On July 8th, 2000, Metallica were left scrambling when singer-guitarist James Hetfield injured himself in a jet skiing accident prior to their performance at the Kentucky Speedway in Sparta, Kentucky. However, rather than canceling the gig altogether, the band recruited a handful of friends in high places to join them onstage and play through a few Metallica staples and a good chunk of covers. The whole show is an amazing feat packed with incredible moments of improvised grandeur, but perhaps the most amazing portion is when System of a Down frontman Serj Tankian and guitarist Daron Malakian joined the band for "Mastertarium," a medley of "Master of Puppets" and "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" that Metallica played throughout that summer tour.
The dazzling 10-minute spectacle began with then-current Metallica bassist Jason Newsted hopping on the mic for "Master of Puppets" while System shredder Daron Malakian played all of Hetfield's rhythm guitar parts without missing a goddamn note. "[Daron] came up to me last night when we had to put this show together," Newsted told the crowd before they played. "He says he knows every fucking Metallica song. That is a beautiful thing." Newsted also deserves a heap of credit for handling lead vocals on "Master" and barking with a vigor that rivaled Hetfield himself.
Then, System crooner Serj Tankian trotted out halfway through the medley and gracefully picked up singing during "Welcome Home (Sanitarium)" while reading the lyrics from a paper sheet. Even though he wasn't familiar with all of the verse words, Tankian knew the chorus like the back of his hand and screamed it with the forceful wackiness of System's heaviest moments — which is fucking awesome to hear.
"It takes some big fucking balls to come up and play with Metallica, man. Motherfuckers are alright," Newsted remarked after the song went off without a hitch. He wasn't lying. Even though SOAD are a massive arena act in today's metal climate, at the time of this show, they hadn't even released their breakthrough album Toxicity, so this was basically the equivalent of the hotshot openers with one kick-ass debut album climbing onstage with the genre's top dogs. Respect.
It's a tremendous fortune that pro-shot footage of this show even exists, so you need to pause everything you're doing right now and watch it above via YouTube.