METALLICA's Lars Ulrich says that it could be a year "at the earliest" before rock bands are allowed to play arena concerts in front of tens of thousands of fans.
Speaking Tuesday (November 10) at CNBC's Evolve Summit, the drummer said: "As we unfortunately have to come to grips with, the last thing that will happen are big concerts, you know 20,000 people in an arena, 50,000 people in a stadium." He went on to say that liive sporting events are much easier to bring back than concerts, given they are "slightly more orderly" than a sold-out rock show tends to be.
"The good news on the live concert front, when METALLICA and other bands like METALLICA play big arena or stadium concerts again, then you can pretty much count on the fact that COVID, as we know it now, is over," he said.
Although METALLICA's drive-in concert, which was pre-recorded and played at more than 300 outdoor theaters in Canada and the U.S. in August, was "a success," Ulrich doesn't see it as something that he and his bandmates can keep doing indefinitely.
"I don't know what kind of legs that kind of experience will have because I think it's more of a one-off event," he said. "I don't think it’s something you could do too often. The burnout factor is too big."
Ulrich said that concerts will return "slowly," possibly once a vaccine has been rolled out to the general public.
"What we know now compared to three months ago, six months ago, is that the wait is unfortunately going to continue to be long," he said. "I would say ... third quarter, fall of next year, at the earliest, is what we're betting on right now."
As previously reported, METALLICA's "Live & Acoustic From HQ: Helping Hands Concert & Auction" will be streamed live from the band's headquarters in San Rafael, California on Saturday, November 14.
In early May, the four members of METALLICA overcame social distancing to record a new version of their song "Blackened", with each member separated in his own home. The split-screen video was posted to the band's social media channels. That same month, Ulrich told Swedish talk show host Fredrik Skavlan that he and his bandmates were "sending ideas to each other via e-mail and via Zoom and [trying to] make music in these unusual situations."
In August, METALLICA broadcast the aforementioned show to hundreds of drive-in and outdoor theaters across the U.S. and Canada, as part of the "Encore Drive-In Nights" series. The concert was filmed nearly three weeks earlier, on August 10, at the Gundlach Bundschu winery, about a 30-minute car ride from the band's headquarters in San Rafael, California, and was subsequently edited and mixed by the band's award-winning production team to the highest standards possible.