This past weekend, Metallica presented the inaugural Orion Music + More festival in Atlantic City, NJ. Metal Insider’s Bram Teitelman, Zach Shaw and Kodi McKinney were there, as was MI contributor Alex Rudisill. We’ll be bringing you plenty of interviews from the show in the coming week, but here’s our take on day two of the festival. Day one’s recap can be found here.
Day 2: Church On Sunday
BT: One thing we touched on in our day one recap but didn’t really expand on was how well everything was run. Covering the Fest from a media standpoint, the press area had it all: free wifi, water, Red Bull, and later on in the day, pizza and beer. For non-press, food and drink were affordable, with water costing only $3 with free refills. And if you really wanted to pony up, at $750 the VIP experience wasn’t cheap, but came with private bathrooms, unlimited food and booze, and access to a special snakepit-like area up front and covered seating in the VIP area . Sure, that’s expensive, but if you’re traveling to see one of your favorite bands at an all day festival, you’re probably looking at spending at least $100/day on food, drinks, and booze anyway.
Knowing the layout and how Orion was run made for a lot easier of an arrival the next day. After a night of debauchery (or, as was much more common with who we spoke with, exhausted sleep), the crowd began to stumble to the gates. Speaking of the crowd, Sunday’s was larger than the previous day for several reasons. Volbeat and Avenged Sevenfold are both huge bands on commercial radio, which seems to have helped out with attendance. And while I had no idea who Eric Church was until this weekend, he’s got the #1 single at Country radio right now. Since both country music and the 21 year-old Black Album are about as mainstream as it gets, this was probably the more attractive of the two days to some on the fence about going both days.
Another thing we didn’t bring up was how everyone in Metallica had a little something extra going on. James Hetfield had his custom car show, a large collection of muscle cars and random vehicles like Dragula. Every now and then, James would stop by and rev up a car, which sent people running towards the open air tent. Rob got to jam with his family as the Trujillo Trio at the Vans Motorbreath Mini Ramp each day. Kirk had Kirk’s Crypt, in which the guitarist showed off his collection of horror movie memorabilia. And Lars had the “Hit the Lights” film festival, which made the least amount of sense. Unless it was raining (which it wasn’t), there was no real reason to duck into a theater to watch films hand-selected by Lars, even if his dad was on hand to answer questions about his film and the drummer introduced each film. There was also a Metallica Museum, with artifacts like the guitar James was playing when he got burned. Lines for the museum and Kirk’s Crypt were long all weekend.
BT: There was no need for any pretentiousness at Orion. Perhaps that’s why Liturgy’s set didn’t go over. Whether it’s because black metal doesn’t go over at 1pm, Orion attendees don’t like to read theses, or watching a two-piece band without a drummer isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time, the band played in front of a crowd about half the size of the capacity of their Brooklyn haunt Union Pool.
KM: This had the potential to be a breakout performance for Liturgy. They already have tons of underground buzz, they did a great job of pissing off the black metal elite right around the time Aesthetica came out, and they’re still a band that can generate adoration or hatred depending on who you’re speaking to. But the band I saw was getting eaten alive by the echo of A Place to Bury Strangers at the next point in the diamond, and part of that was their reliance on a drum machine. When Fear Factory or Ministry does that, it’s awesome. Liturgy isn’t industrial though, and adding that element into their music took away from its atmosphere and emphasized its simplicity. To be fair, the crowd didn’t help; Liturgy had maybe 50 people actively watching them, but this also isn’t the kind of festival where blog hype will amount to spectators, and they didn’t seem ready to play on this level. Major letdown.
Thy Will Be Done:
ZS: It awesome to see so many people watching Thy Will Be Done at 1:30pm (one of the earlier slots). However, seeing them perform with the Atlantic City skyline behind them was truly a sight to see as well. I know there were a few other acts that started off day 2, but Thy Will Be Done was the perfect way to kickstart the day for me.
A Place To Bury Strangers:
KM: Any worries from yesterday about sets not being loud enough are gone. A Place to Bury Strangers is all about being as loud as possible, and as the noisy-ass modern torchbearers for shoegaze, they were going to have the loudest show here. You can hear them from outside of the park, and they sound like a demented jet engine up close. I’m a complete fanboy for this band; this is my third time seeing them (one gig was at their home venue of Death By Audio in Brooklyn, another at Le Poisson Rouge in Manhattan opening for much more polite-sounding gazers Chapterhouse), and seeing them on the Fuel stage feels like a pretty amazing cosign. Oh yeah, and then there’s “Lost Feeling,” which is closer in suffocating atmosphere to classic Burzum than Liturgy could hope for today. It’s also right about now that I realize I should buy a hat. Whatever, I don’t need my skin. As noise guitarists go, Oliver Ackermann is the man, right down to the custom-built backline and batshit-insane physicality of his guitar breaks. I pry myself away to walk over to Ghost while what increasingly appears to be two guitars angrily humping echoes behind me.
BT: When the lineup was announced, I thought this APTBS were a perfect choice. While they’re not metal, they’re definitely heavy, and any fan of guitar-driven music probably walked away appreciating them.