Fans ready for Metallica concert on the hill
It's the day Metallica fans across the Maritimes have been waiting for, as the band hits the stage Thursday night in Halifax.
Three of those die-hard fans travelled from Newfoundland and Labrador in a old van that they are hoping to use to attract Metallica's attention.
Now, these Metallica fans from Mount Pearl, N.L., have given the 1988 Dodge Caravan — a steal at just $120 — a new life as "Vantallica."
Larry Goulds, Andrew Pope, and a friend known only as "Skully" couldn't resist the chance to customize the vehicle.
"Girls love it," said Pope.
"The work was probably a couple of days, it took us a three dozen beer job, whatever spray bombs we could get from each other's sheds," said Goulds. "We got her painted and now she looks sick."
There's a special sound system installed in the back that works only when the windshield wipers are turned on. Of course, it plays only Metallica tunes.
Goulds said the trio has high hopes for the van.
"We're hoping Metallica wants to buy it off us and burn it," he said.
'No tickets given away'
The heavy metal band was brought in by MacKay Entertainment, a group that is officially headed up by Michelle MacKay, the wife of concert promoter Harold MacKay.
His business shut down last fall after poor ticket sales for last summer's concerts on the Halifax Common.
Harold MacKay said Thursday's event is a success, although he said he can't talk about specific numbers.
"We're not allowed to divulge ticket numbers because of artists' confidentiality agreements, but this hill will be chock-full today, so there was no tickets given away with this show, none whatsoever."
By noon Thursday, hundreds of fans had already found their spot on the hill. Among the most die-hard fans was a group of three from Fredericton.
"It's in the East Coast. How many times does that happen, [that] someone awesome comes through the East Coast? So we really had to hit up something like this," said Nichlos Pilon.
Pilon's 15-year-old car died as the group drove to Nova Scotia, so he gave the car to a towing company in exchange for a lift into the city.
"I thought about it for a bit but the car wasn't worth enough to actually go and salvage [it], so we said, 'Go for it'. We really wanted to come see the concert," said Pilon.
"We did up all the paperwork and traded it, another car showed up and they told us to hop in and they gave us a ride to Halifax," said one of Pilon's companions, Megan Glenwright.
The group isn't quite sure how they're getting home on Friday.
Rain in forecast
Meanwhile, the forecast for the concert is for steady rain.
"Who cares about the weather? It can snow, hail, sleet, I don't care. It's Metallica," said fan Bill Arsenault.
Site manager David MacKay said while he hopes the weather holds up, the show will go on either way.
"It's business as usual for us, so we're not too worried about the rain at all," he said. "I'm hoping the weather gods are on our side and there's not going to be any."
MacKay said efforts are being made to preserve Garrison Grounds.
Back in 2009, a night of heavy rain during the Halifax Virgin Festival left the site a muddy mess.
To prevent that from happening again, MacKay said plywood planks are being scattered around the site.
"We protect the grounds as much as we can. It's all dried out now and, you know, there's some tracks from some tractors here and there," he said.
"Other than that, it's just a little bit of grass and it can always be patched up in the end."
People are encouraged to wear rubber boots and raincoats, but umbrellas aren't allowed on the concert site.
The Citadel Hill site accommodates about 30,000 people.