That Time Hardcore Metallica Fans Were Trapped In Las Cruces
One of the most interesting concert experiences in our area took place in Las Cruces in 1997.
I recently posted an article about concert venues in El Paso and Las Cruces and in it, I mentioned a "sleepover" that once happened in Las Cruces. I promised to tell the story for those who weren't there so, here it is ...
January 6th, 1997, was a wintry day in the Borderland. It was cold, cloudy and there was a good chance for snow. El Paso winters are tame, snow is rare and, if we do get any, it's not much and typically gone pretty fast. This time was going to be different.
As the day went on, snow did begin to fall and around 5 or so, my friend and I started out to go see Metallica and Korn up in Cruces. Another friend was driving down from Colorado to see the show and we were all looking forward to catching up.
Then the storm, which ... as I recall ... was coming down on us from Colorado, became a full on freaking blizzard, completely shutting down Las Cruces and El Paso.
I-10 and ALL the other major traffic arteries were closed so my friend and I had to take Highway 28 into Cruces as no other roadways were open. At one point, visibility was zero.
I had the passenger door cracked open so I could look down at the road going by and let my friend know if he was getting too near or too far from the lane marker.
With irrigation ditches along the sides of the road, that was important info.
It took a couple of hours for us to finally make it to Cruces and we thought for sure the show had either been cancelled or we'd missed half of it. Luckily, Metallica and Korn were aware of the situation and delayed the show. Meanwhile, Las Cruces had closed. Businesses shut down and sent their employees home due to this epic storm.
Our friend made it by the way, after going through every road closure he encountered by telling the cops manning the road-blocks that he only needed to get "one more exit" down. He did that across half of Colorado and all of New Mexico.
The show was insane, you can see some photos from that night here. The setlist was loaded with crowd faves and new material and Metallica blew our minds with a fake accident during Enter Sandman that made it appear props had collapsed, the power blown out and people hurt. A moment captured in the video, "Cunning Stunts".
After the show, most roads were still closed and every hotel/motel room in Cruces got snapped up. (And room rates got jacked up ... big time.) We were lucky enough to get a room right across from the only business open. A Whataburger with a line about a mile long.
We already had beer and once food and shelter were arranged, we actually had a pretty good time. Many fans back at the Pan Am Center though could not return to El Paso so NMSU officials allowed them to stay the night in the Pan Am.
Hence the first and only concert "sleepover" in Borderland history.