Popcorn, nachos and plastic cups dotted the skies. Breasts had been bared as the roaming camera panned the crowds looking for a woman who would oblige 43,000 voyeuristic fans in Rich stadium wanting to sneak a peek.
And, when Axl Rose finally burst on to the monstrous stage Saturday night -- almost two hours after Metallica had finished -- his 5 o'clock shadow had grown into a 10:45 healthy scruff.
Sometimes, one word can drive a stadium full of people -- many of whom had been partying for hours before Faith No More's 45-minute warm up and Metallica's two-hour-plus party -- into a crazed frenzy: "Buffalo," rock 'n' roll's bad boy said, his way of introducing the song "Welcome to the Jungle."
Rose then ripped into a satisfying, gut-wrenching version of the rock ballad that had all the subtlety of a double knock-out punch. Two massive four-legged inflatable beasts with dagger teeth wiggled their red fingers throughout the song.
Despite occasional feedback -- quite possibly the only thing that can overpower the high-pitched raspy wail -- the man of a million and one costume changes strutted and swayed with the confidence of one who knows he is holding most of Orchard Park in the palm of his sweaty hand.
There were ample guitar solos. Slash's sizzling fingers set his guitar ablaze throughout the show and performed a melodramatic version of "The Godfather Theme." Gilby Clarke dominated the spotlight occasionally with precision playing.
And if the band hadn't taken so much time to get on stage, this reviewer would have had more time to describe the second half of the powerful set. Before Guns N' Roses' long set, Metallica cruised through a high-voltage show highlighted by vocalist-guitarist James Hetfield's smooth-as-gravel voice, Lars Ulrich's spit-fire drumming and Kirk Hammett's agile and electrifying guitar playing.
True to form, the band's music hit the core of everyone's soul Saturday -- and not because of sentimental lyrics. Jason Newsted's incessant, thudding bass reverberated through the stands, where enthralled fans expressed their gratitude by thrusting their fists in the air.
Hetfield, more of a musical presence than a showman like Rose, didn't fully engage the audience until three quarters through the 15-song set.
When the group fired into an explosive version of "Seek and Destroy," Hetfield's menacing growl was backed up by thousands of fans shouting the refrain in robotic monotone. Near the end of the heavy-hitting song, Hetfield leapt from the T-shaped stage and allowed the frenzied fans to grope him and sing along.
Still, some sweaty Metallica fans weren't as mesmerized by Hetfield. They were more concerned with forming large circles of "mosh pits." The teen- and twenty-something fans, full of testosterone, and whatever else, engaged in a variation on "pickle in the middle," in which the pickle egged those around the fringes to push him out of the middle.
The men of Metallica were at their heavyweight heavy-metal finest during "Unforgiven," in which Hetfield toned his growl down to a dull roar and let Ulrich's drums rifle through the crowd.
"Enter Sandman," the final encore, sizzled as much as the golden flames exploding on the stage.
Newsted provided fans with the guitar solo that was one part "Star Spangled Banner," one part Led Zeppelin and 98 parts unadulterated metal.
Faith No More, a band whose style is more suitable for an intimate setting, warmed the fans up with a set highlighted by a energetic version of "We Care a Lot" and "Epic."
Guns N' Roses, Metallica and Faith No More
Saturday in Rich Stadium