Orion Music + More featuring Metallica
For the first time ever in the USA, Metallica hosted a 2-day festival, featuring artists they have either toured with in the past or bands they were fans of. The festival was held at Bader field in Atlantic City, NJ and run by the same people who run Lollapalooza. With 1 main stage and 3 side stages, there was music from all genres of rock being played, as well a comedy show featuring Jim Breuer, along with a couple of tents setup with Kirk Hammet’s horror exhibit, Metallica memorabilia, car show, graffiti artist, and a skateboard ramp.
Playing for the first time, the Black album in its entirety in the USA on Sunday and Saturday – they played in its entirety the album, Ride the Lighting. Right off the bat, you can see a lot of thought was involved in planning out the surroundings. Never was there a line for the bathroom, enough food vendors to never have a line back up more than a few people, free water stations, giveaways for people who helped pick up the trash, so the grounds were always clean. If there was any suggestion to be made, it would be for more areas of shade to cool off that were close to the stages.
With over 40 acts playing we will highlight some of the best performances. Opening the show at the main stage was Baroness – Lars Ulrich came out and introduced the band out of Georgia who are about to release their 3rd album, Yellow & Green put on a great set that kept building with energy. The Sword opened the Fuel Stage; they were on the last tour in America with Metallica and with no introduction, just walked on stage and went about blowing everyone away with their straight up Heavy Metal.
One of the surprise bands for me was Letlive; never having heard of them, I was blown away by the sheer energy of singer, Jason Aalon Butler. Butler was all over the place as he jumped into the crowd, did his version of a slip & slide on stage, tried to car jack a festival worker’s car and hanging on the scaffold of the stage before jumping off.
Hardcore punk band out of Canada Fuckedup did their best to keep up the pace of the side stages as singer; Pink Eyes performed most of the show in the crowd as he gave everyone a hug and sang with his shirt off to the delight of their fans. Seeing the faces on people who have never seen this band before was priceless.
Cage the Elephant kept up the bands, whose singers jumped in the crowd and for me, gave the best set of the day other than Metallica – playing hits like In One Ear, Sell Yourself, Ain’t No Rest for the Wicked and an amazing version of Shake Me Down.
Rob Trujilo introduced Suicidal Tendencies to huge roar from the crowd as they greeted the Thrash/Punk legends. Singer, Mike Muir displayed a ton of energy onstage and seemed to be enjoying himself. The guy’s playing was tight and sounded just as fresh as it did some 30 years ago and Rob Trujilo joined them for a song as he remarked how amazing it was to be playing alongside them again.
Closing out the side stages for Saturday was Arctic Monkeys from England and representing Indie Rock. Playing one of their last shows for awhile, they poured everything they had into it and had the crowd going crazy. This is one band I would love to see again and hoping it’s not a long wait.
We will get to Metallica soon, but onto day 2 of the festival.
With cooler temps and a stronger lineup of music than the previous day, opening the show was, A Place to Bury Strangers – a band that relied a lot on guitar feedback and drawn out songs. While the Fuel stage might not have been the right setting today with a stage full of rock coming up after them.
A band that I was looking forward to seeing all weekend was Ghost, who came out with a creepy vibe as they slowly entered the stage with singer, Papa Emeritus. I think the huge main stage swallows up the visual performance and should have been swapped to the Fuel stage, given that they gave a great performance and created a lot of fans that day.
Gary Clark Jr. lit up the stage with his Hendrix- like guitar playing, mixed with classic blues guitar picking. Clark turned the crowd of rock fans in his favor playing his hits. If you’re into guitar-driven blues rock, this is an upcoming player to keep your eye on.
Back to the main stage, I checked out Best Coast and for some reason the main stage was not hitting on all cylinders until later in the night. Not really a fan of this type of music and left me shaking my head.
Volbeat came out and as they always do, impressed. With the crowd growing, by far the largest crowd was today and Fuel stage became a mini-Orion Main stage. As a few shouts of Volbeat came from the crowd, by the time they walked off, the whole place was cheering for them as they conquered another stage.
James Hetfield introduced the next act, Eric Church, as a country rebel and belonged here as much as anyone. Church did everything to show he did belong and played a high powered country/rock set that had the crowd moving along to the music and making a nice comeback for the main stage acts.
Sepultura came on to tribal music and had a very powerful and uplifting presence feeding the crowd their intense music from Brazil. Always a crowd favorite, they proved tonight they were ready to get back into the game full force. This was one of the most tight and powerful performances of the night.
Avenged Sevenfold closed out the Fuel stage and we will have a review on them and their amazing, once-in-a-lifetime performance at Orion fest.
The band everyone was here for, including the bands, hand-picked to be at the festival was Metallica. Playing their own festival for the first time in the United States and headlining two nights was fan’s dreams come true. Playing on a huge stage that included the famous Snake Pit, the crowd was ready both nights to cheer on their heroes.
First night they played Ride the Lighting along with several hits to fill two hours, the next night was the Black album played from end to front kept the crowds heads banging.
Last time I saw Metallica was when Kid Rock opened for them, so seeing back-to-back nights was a treat. Fans from all over flew into Atlantic City – some as far as Australia, some who have seen them close to 200 times and told me they never get tired of seeing them play and that the fan base is now considered a family.
Both nights were truly amazing, seeing a band so huge playing to their fans as if it was the first time and going out to the greet them on the side walkway stage as they played hits like Hit the Lights, Four Horsemen, Master of Puppets. They ended each night with One and Seek & Destroy.
Would love to see this festival continue each year and grow to the point where Orion Music + More is mentioned along side with the other great festivals around the world have to offer.
Review & Photos provided by Peter Lizano