James Burchman traveled to Grand Forks from Galena, Kan. to see Metallica.

He and his friend, Ron Webb of Mandan, N.D., have seen the rock band numerous times, but they keep coming back for the headbanging experience for one reason.

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"Because they rock," Webb said. "They get your blood moving."

The band that has been going strong for nearly four decades didn't disappoint. Thousands flooded into the Alerus Center Saturday night to see Metallica, which kicked off the concert with a fiery light show, heavy guitar riffs and enough decibels to shake the any seat in the house.

It's uncertain how many tickets were sold for the concert before it started, but it was expected to be one of the biggest music events in Grand Forks history. Fans from across the region poured onto the Alerus Center floor to surround the stage in the middle. Others sat in the stands on either side of the stadium that typically hosts UND football.

The stands weren't completely full for the venue that can hold 21,000 people, but the Alerus Center appeared to be near capacity. George Strait holds the record for most tickets sold for a Grand Forks concert when he sold more than 19,500 tickets for his "The Cowboy Rides Away" tour in 2013.

But concertgoers had a night of rock on their minds. Comedian Jim Breuer warmed up the crowd, and he had die-hard fans who had been to multiple Metallica events welcoming first-timers. A lucky bride and groom that had their wedding reception in the Alerus Center was invited to have their first dance on the stage just before Metallica began to play.

"Welcome to the family," the crowd shouted.

The band pulled out all of the tricks, from flame shooters to using what appeared to be small drones to give a starry effect for one song.