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Metallica show was heaviest ever — literally — for Pinnacle Bank Arena
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Metallica show was heaviest ever — literally — for Pinnacle Bank Arena

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Metallica at the Pinnacle Bank Arena, 9.6.18

The sound and lighting gear Metallica brought to Lincoln last week made it the heaviest production Pinnacle Bank Arena has ever hosted.

Another Pinnacle Bank Arena-related record was set Thursday night.

It wasn’t the largest attendance ever. The 15,000-plus who turned out to see Metallica was the second-biggest concert crowd in the arena’s history.

Nor did the show have the highest beer sales. It wasn’t the longest show by a featured artist. And there's no way to measure whether it was, musically, the heaviest.

But the production for the thrash-metal quartet's concert was literally the heaviest — setting a record for the most weight that has hung from the arena's rigging grid, a rectangular collection of steel beams that is attached to the major trusses that hold up the 5-year-old building's roof.

That number alone — at least 190,000 pounds, with a "dynamic weight" of up to 240,000 pounds — is mind-boggling.

It is even more impressive because the show was performed on a stage in the center of the arena, with all the production gear, sound and lighting, hung in a circle in the middle of the building.

Metallica's lighting system is made up of cubes with built-in lights and video screens that move up and down throughout the show. The dropping of the cubes creates the dynamic weight that pulls down on the rigging.

That setup required 158 rigging points, and a Wednesday pre-rigging to get them ready for the Thursday morning load-in. Pre-rigging, which sets the points and gets the cords to lift the equipment ready, can be a long, complicated process. 

Earlier last week, the Metallica pre-rig took 9 hours, 50 minutes at Minneapolis’ Target Center. In Lincoln, Wednesday's work was finished in less than five hours, reportedly to the astonishment of the Metallica crew.

Thursday’s load-in and set-up was a standard day, with the 20 trucks arriving at 8 a.m. and the production set by 4 p.m.

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Hanging the show required planning months ahead.

“The arena’s built for it, but we got back together with the structural engineer who worked on the building for this show,” arena manager Tom Lorenz said.

“We had her work out where and how to hang it. We got a signed-off engineer’s letter to hang it and had our rigging specialist come in to make sure it was done safely and in the best possible way.”

Rigging Pinnacle Bank Arena took far less time than it did in Minneapolis because of differences in the buildings themselves.

“The structural design was developed for doing concerts,” Lorenz said. “That was a desire we had during the design phase, about having the structural capacity to hang the biggest shows and to have the building really fitted for concerts. The architects, engineers and builders gave us that.

"That gives us a leg up. This is unique. Not every building will be able to put up all of their (Metallica) show. We were able to do it well and do it fast.”

The latter was aided by the efforts of the riggers from International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees Local 151, the Lincoln stagehands union, and its Omaha counterpart, Local 42.

“These guys now have a national reputation of being a great local to work with," Lorenz said.

There was another impressive production mark set Thursday as well.

The show, which ended just after 11 p.m., was taken down and loaded out in 2 hours, 25 minutes. That’s a record for the Metallica tour, which has been out for more than a year.

“They were pleased and amazed,” Lorenz said. “That will set a standard for the rest of their tour.”

Reach the writer at 402-473-7244 or

On Twitter @LJSWolgamott.


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Entertainment reporter/columnist

L. Kent Wolgamott, the recipient of the 2018 Mayor’s Arts Award, has written about arts and entertainment for Lincoln newspapers since 1985, reviewing thousands of movies and concerts and hundreds of art exhibitions.

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