Metallica’s Orion Music & More Festival took over Detroit’s Belle Isle over the weekend. The festival, which had its inaugural year last summer in Atlantic City, signed a three year deal with Motor City, and year one seemed to go extremely well, with highlights including a “surprise” Metallica concert on a small stage,
And, as was the case last year (and per the festival’s title), the festival is about more than music. Fans could experience Metallica history by walking through the museum housing band memorabilia. There was a classic car show that James Hetfield of Metallica frequently visited over the two day stretch and Kirk Hammet of Metallica terrified metal heads with his haunted house.
For those in need of adrenaline, motorcycle daredevils The Nerveless Nocks had “The Globe of Death,” a giant 18 foot tall steel ball cage, where Michelangelo and Carolina Nock with their son Cyrus wowed audience with motorcycle stunts inside the cage. If “The Globe of Death” wasn’t up your alley, you could watch professional skateboarders on the Vans Vert Ramp, a 30 foot ramp, attached to the Vans Damage Inc Stage. For the festival-goer who wanted to do good while rocking out, there was the Rock & Recycle Crew. If you volunteered to fill a unique bag with recyclables, you received a commemorative shirt made of recycled materials.
Of course it was Metallica’ Sunday night headlining set brought in the most traffic to the island. It was a two-hour set including Metallica standards (“Master of Puppets,” “For Whom the Bell Tolls”) and local hero Bob Seger’s “Turn the Page” as one of the encores. Fireworks and lasers flew across the sky, marking a successful festival on the Detroit island.
Saturday night saw the Red Hot Chili Peppers closing out the evening with a high energy set as many fans were still walking in to the festival, catching the very last few songs. Long waits for tickets and shuttles caused problems, but were remedied on Sunday as fans were ushered in at a more efficient rate. RHCP fans were treated to all their hits including “Californication,” “The Adventures of Rain Dance Maggie,” and more as Saturday came to a close.
The Sanitarium stage over the weekend became almost a festival with in a festival. DJs kept the fans dancing with Electronic Dance Music (or EDM, in the parlance of the times) and flashing lights. Bassnectar and Destroid saw huge crowds during their bass heavy sets over Saturday and Sunday. With the success of this stage – which pointed out that metal fans enjoy DJ culture and music as well as guitar-heavy bands – expect it to draw larger crowds and artists in the coming years.
The big surprise of the weekend was Metallica playing a secret set under the name “Dehaan” on Saturday afternoon. Word got out quickly, as the band began to play a 10-song set lasting nearly 55 minutes, consisting of every song on Metallica’s 1983 debut, Kill ‘Em All.
Robert Trujillo of Metallica saw the most stage time this weekend. He had double duty on day one, playing for “Dehaan” and with a one-off reunion of supergroup Infectious Grooves (which also included Trujilio’s former Suicidal Tendencies bandmate Mike Muir, and Jane’s Addiction drummer Stephen Perkins, along with guest guitarist Jim Martin (formerly of Faith No More). The funk metal supergroup rocked through Led Zepplin’s “Immigrant Song” and their own hit “Therapy.” On Sunday, he played the Vans Damage Inc stage with the Truijilo Trio and his normal Metallica set to close out the evening.
Rumors swirled the Orion grounds during the Truijilo Trio set with a possible appearance for Foo Fighters’ Dave Grohl, but they turned out to be just rumors. (However, Grohl’s bandmate Taylor Hawkins’ other band, Chevy Metal, performed at a festival “pre-party” Friday night at the Majestic Theatre).
Orion wasn’t all national acts either, a few local bands from Detroit were featured on the bill and drew heavy crowds. Battlecross performed a standout set of pure thrashing metal on Saturday. Hetfield introduced Battlecross and could be seen side stage head banging along to the music. Truijilo introduced the band Death on Sunday to the masses. The band has seen a recent resurgence in popularity due to a recent documentary called A Band Called Death.
The only noticeable problem to Orion attendees this weekend, besides ticket and shuttle issues Saturday, was the last minute cancellation of The Joy Formidable due to ‘travel issues.’ They were scheduled to take the Orion main stage on Sunday.
So sorry Orion Fest, we’ll make it up to you Detroit. R&R&M
— joyformidable (@joyformidable) June 9, 2013
Orion will return to Detroit for the next two years, with hopes of the city becoming it’s permanent home. Earlier in the week, Hetfield told press conference attendees that they’re “trying to find a home for Orion and hopefully this will be the one… This site is amazing, it’s beautiful. We love it here!” And judging by the crowds, Detroit loved it too.
– Steve Wiseman & Shelia Taylor, CBS Radio, Detroit