“Part of the deal was we couldn’t disturb the penguins”: Lars Ulrich looks back on Metallica’s record-breaking Antarctica gig

Lars Ulrich and penguin
(Image credit: Paul Bergen/Redferns, Cornelius Ventures)

Lars Ulrich has reflected on the time Metallica played a record-setting show inside a research base in Antarctica, back in 2013.

The unconventional gig was hosted by Coca Cola at the Argentine Antarctic Base Carlini, and saw the San Francisco metal heavyweights perform to 120 competition winners without any amplification to avoid disturbing the local wildlife, such as penguins.

The event established Metallica as the first band to perform on all of the world’s seven continents, and the second band to ever play in Antarctica, following a performance in 2007 by a group of musical scientists as part of the Live Earth climate change awareness gigs. 

Recalling the concert during a recent appearance on the podcast series Conan O’Brien Needs A Friend, the Metallica drummer explains: "We got an offer from Coca Cola, they were doing a contest for Latin America, and they invited us to come down and play for contest winners on a Chilean Research Base In Antarctica. 

"And so we flew down. Talk about bringing different nationalities together, we were on a Russian icebreaker, anchored off a Chilean research base playing to Argentinian, Chilean and Brazilian Coca Cola contest winners in a space that was maybe twice of the room we're in right now [a small space]."

He continues, "It was a tent that was set up and on top of that, everybody in the audience had headphones on because it was silent-disco style."

Elaborating on their performance set-up, Ulrich adds: "Part of the deal was we couldn't disturb the environment; the penguins and all the incredible wildlife down there. So the only thing you could hear in that tent were acoustic drums and James's [Hetfield] vocals.

"Everything amplified; the guitars, the bass, etc, were all going through boxes into everybody's headphones. So you put all those elements together and that was one of the most unique three or four days ever."

Speaking of the intimate proximity to the fans, the Dane explains: "And on top of it, the band members and all our wonderful crew and all the contest winners were staying on that icebreaker together. So it was a real communal experience and we all had our meals together and if anybody wanted a beverage post show, we'd go down the bar. It was one of the best trips we've ever had".

The memorable gig - which was filmed for a later release - featured Metallica playing a total of 10 tracks, including Creeping Death, For Whom The Bell Tolls, Sad But True, Welcome Home (Sanitarium), Master Of Puppets, One, Blackened, Nothing Else Matters, Enter Sandman and Seek & Destroy. 

Listen to the full podcast episode and watch Metallica's full performance in Antarctica below:

Liz Scarlett

Liz works on keeping the Louder sites up to date with the latest news from the world of rock and metal. Prior to joining Louder as a full time staff writer, she completed a Diploma with the National Council for the Training of Journalists and received a First Class Honours Degree in Popular Music Journalism. She enjoys writing about anything from neo-glam rock to stoner, doom and progressive metal, and loves celebrating women in music.