Since bursting onto the scene in 2019, MDLBEAST Soundstorm has quickly solidified its status as the region’s biggest live music festival, welcoming hundreds of thousands of young Saudi music fans to its ever-expanding, purpose-built site in Banban. The festival has grown year on year, attracting ever higher-profile artists and expanding its offerings across multiple genres, and for its 2023 edition, this growth reached a whole new level as heavy metal icons Metallica made their first ever appearance in Saudi Arabia, gracing Soundstorm’s new and improved BIG BEAST stage.
According to MDLBEAST’s Executive Director of Events, Michael ‘Curly’ Jobson, the prospect of Metallica playing Soundstorm had been high on his wish list for quite some time, having known the Metallica and Q Prime family since the mid 1980s. “The dialogue began some time ago,” he told TPiMEA, explaining how a casual conversation with ex Q Prime colleague Brian Celler led to a call with Metallica’s Manager Tony DiCioccio, and Production Manager, John Mulder. “Once we got on a call and helped them understand the kind of festival experience they would be walking into, we got it done pretty quickly. They invested great trust in us to deliver what we promised.”
For Metallica’s PM, John Mulder, there were no preconceived notions of what Soundstorm would be like. “We had never been to Saudi Arabia before and we didn’t know what to expect,” he admitted. “However, from the moment we started working with the MDLBEAST team, to walking on-site and seeing the enormous stage, the level of professionalism, teamwork, and love that went into everything was stunning.”
Photos: Oskar Brewitz, MDLBEAST