The Story Behind Metallica’s “Snake Pit”

What happens when Metallica takes a cue from the restaurant business? The “Snake Pit” is born. This exclusive area has been shaking up live concerts for nearly three decades.

Metallica's Lars Ulrich (shirtless) and Kirk Hammett proudly hold a fan-made flag during their 'Wherever We May Roam' tour in 1991, above the 'Snake pit' stage area, with a massive crowd of fans below.
“Wherever We May Roam” tour 1991-1992 (“Snake Pit” stage area)
Key Takeaways
  • Metallica’s “Snake Pit” debuted in their 1991 “Black Album” tour for select fans and VIPs.
  • Inspired by restaurant seating, it aimed to put fans at the center of the action.
  • Evolved to hold up to 1,200 fans but remains exclusive.

How It All Started With the “Black Album”

The “Snake Pit” first slithered its way into Metallica’s concerts during their 1991 tour for the self-titled album. Yeah, you got it, the “Black Album”. The coiled snake on the cover? It shares its likeness with the Gadsden flag. Metallica grabbed that imagery and decided, “Let’s bring it to life on tour!”

So what’s the “Snake Pit”, you ask? Imagine standing front and center, so close to the band you can almost touch their guitar strings. This prime real estate in front of the stage got dubbed the “Snake Pit”, and it became the domain of a select crew of fans and VIPs.

Imagine standing front and center, so close to the band you can almost touch their guitar strings.

But here’s the kicker. This wasn’t some flash-in-the-pan gimmick. Nope, the “Snake Pit” had legs—or should I say, scales? It stayed on as a fixture in Metallica’s live shows, even as the band rolled out more albums. All part of the plan to make fans feel like they’re in the thick of it, not just spectators.

How a Restaurant Idea Cooked Up Metallica’s “Snake Pit”

So, where did Metallica cook up this sizzling idea for the “Snake Pit”? Believe it or not, they took a page from the restaurant biz. Yep, you heard that right. Lars Ulrich spilled the beans that one of their managers in New York back in the late ’80s and early ’90s was the brain behind this concept. According to this culinary visionary, the best seat in any restaurant isn’t by the window or in a private booth. Nah, it’s in the kitchen, where the magic happens.

And so, the “Snake Pit” was born—a space where fans could be smack-dab in the center of the action, much like that coveted kitchen seat. It’s not just about watching the show; it’s about feeling the pulse, the beat, and the sizzle. All thanks to a restaurant philosophy turned rock legend.

How the “Snake Pit” Serves Up a Chef’s Table Experience

Ever hear of a “Chef’s Table”? That’s the VIP seat of the food world—a table right in the thick of the kitchen action. People pay top dollar for this. They get to see the chef doing his knife-wielding magic, sometimes with a custom menu. Sounds cool, right? Now, imagine that, but swap out the aprons for guitars.

This isn’t a regular Tuesday night dinner; this is a feast of the senses, seasoned with shredding solos and pulsating drums.

That’s pretty much what Metallica’s “Snake Pit” is. You’re not just a spectator; you’re part of the spectacle. This isn’t a regular Tuesday night dinner; this is a feast of the senses, seasoned with shredding solos and pulsating drums. You’re so close you can almost taste the sweat. It’s not just a show; it’s a curated experience. Just like how the Chef’s Table lets you peer into the culinary arts, the “Snake Pit” immerses you in the sweat and sound of live metal. Get your forks—er, I mean horns—ready.

The Anatomy of the “Snake Pit”

Picture this: a diamond-shaped stage. Dead center? That’s the “Snake Pit”. We’re not talking a roped-off VIP section in the back. We’re talking the heart of the action. This was a cozy space, fitting just 30 to 40 fans initially. You had to win a radio contest or be a VIP to get in. Or maybe be a friend or family—yes, it was that tight-knit.

Fast forward a few decades. The “Snake Pit” is still here, and it’s gotten roomier. Nowadays, you could find up to 1,200 fans packed into this metal mecca, all thanks to local rules and a bit of fire marshal kindness. Three decades on, this isn’t just a stage gimmick—it’s an institution. It’s Metallica saying, “Come closer. Let’s turn this up together.”

A Fan’s Ultimate Dream

Think of the “Snake Pit” as the Holy Grail for Metallica fans. This isn’t just prime real estate; it’s the realm of dreams. The experience goes beyond just hearing the band—you feel the music, see the sweat, become part of the show. Getting in? Well, that’s another story. It’s like winning the lottery, especially in the early days when the Pit could only fit 30 to 40 fans.

Even with its evolving capacity, the “Snake Pit” has retained its charm and allure. You’re still elbow-to-elbow with die-hard fans, as close to the band as you can get without strumming the guitar yourself. The essence? Unchanged. It’s the same immersive, irreplaceable experience it was decades ago.