It’s official – I’m going to see Metallica live and up-close. Monday the band announced its first American tour in eight years, and by Tuesday the fan club members were able to purchase pre-sale tickets and what a doozy that was.

Aside from working at The Times Bulletin I’m also a college student at IPFW. I attend class on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Since Metallica decided to have the tickets go on sale at 11 a.m. this past Tuesday I can say I wasn’t a very good student for my literature class. Instead I spent an hour of the class in a panic trying to grab VIP/floor tickets to see Metallica, Avenged Sevenfold and Volbeat on July 12 in Detroit.

I mentioned this last week, but I get horrible anxiety while buying tickets. They sell out in seconds and one wrong move could mean you’re not going to the show. It didn’t help that I was in class and trying to not make it completely obvious that I was in freak-out mode and not paying attention. However, with some persistence I was luckier with Metallica than I was with John Mayer, as I actually got exactly what I wanted.

Metallica has made some headlines lately, especially after the band’s performance on Sunday when poor James Hetfield’s microphone was accidentally unplugged by a tech guy just minutes before the performance. The band began to play “Moth Into Flame” and Hetfield’s vocals were gone, but he persisted and made it work. Instead of pulling a New Year’s Eve Mariah Carey, Hetfield shared Lady Gaga’s microphone and the show went on. And what a show it was! Once again Lady Gaga proves her versatility. She’s been a pop artist, a jazz artist and now a metal head. Is there anything she can’t do?

What’s unfortunate is the amount of metal fans I saw that were upset by this. The word “sellout” made its rounds as many fans were upset that a metal band performed with a pop artist.

Metallica has been a band for 36 years now, and it seems some people are upset that they do not act and sound like they did almost four decades ago. I see this quite a bit with many of the bands I love but I’ve never seen it as bad as I do with Metallica and metal heads. I won’t pretend to know a lot about Metallica, as the main reason I listen to them is because they are my boyfriend’s favorite band. But I’ve listened to him talk about the struggles of being a Metallica fan.

It seems almost crazy to me for fans to think a band should never change its sound or appearance. No one is the same person after almost 40 years, I’m not even the same person I was five years ago.

Like I said, it’s not just Metallica fans though; I see this with a lot of fan bases. When a band makes a new album and it sounds like all the other albums I typically see things like, “This sounds the exact same! They need to do something different; this is old and boring!” And when a band makes an album that sounds totally different fans will say, “This is horrible, they totally sold out. I wish they would stick to their roots.”

Here’s what people need to realize, there’s no such thing as being a “sellout” if the band is truly doing what they love and wants to move in a different direction. I’m sure doing the same thing gets boring after awhile. Perhaps one of the many defining moments of Metallica being labeled “sellouts” (aside from Black album) was due to the assumption the band, specifically Lars Ulrich, is money hungry. Cue the Metallica v. Napster trial.

In case you don’t remember the late 90s/early 2000s too well, Napster was a huge file sharing website that essentially let fans download music for free. Well, Ulrich wasn’t too happy to find out that a demo of one of the band’s songs was leaked and was playing on the radio before it was even out. Metallica was able to trace the leak back to Napster and discovered their entire collection of albums on the file sharing website available for anyone to take for free.

To sum it all up, Metallica sued Napster for copyright infringement (other artists like Dr. Dre also sued) and won. Napster ended up filing bankruptcy and liquidating their assets.

According to James Hetfield, 17 years later Ulrich is still hearing about it from fans, saying that it’s still not uncommon for them to hear about how they are money hungry or sellouts for standing up for themselves and other artists.

The thing is, these artists put hours and hours into their work, and it’s a real shame for people to believe they are entitled to it for free. File sharing, illegally downloading, whatever you want to call it, it’s stealing. We wouldn’t steal things from a grocery store, so why do we think it’s okay to steal from a band we love? It’s not selling out for a band to stand up for themselves because they don’t want their art stolen.

Metallica is huge. Even if you don’t listen to them, it would amaze me if there’s a single adult who hasn’t at least heard of them. And as far as selling out goes, I agree with ex-bassist Jason Newstead when he spoke about selling out during the Black album, “We sell out…every seat in the house.”

Metallica may lose fans for trying something different or for standing up for themselves (along with every other artist), but one thing is for sure, they still stand strong, they are legends and they still sell out arenas.