Orion Music and More - Belle Isle, Detroit - June 8th, 2013
Review by Mike Bax
Photos by Dave Mead, Cambria Harkey and Dave Rodriguez
Determined to put their own date-stamp on an American festival, Metallica, along with promoters/organizers C3 Presents, have set up shop on Belle Isle’s, Canada facing side, for the 2nd annual Orion Music and More festival.
Offering fans a two-day culturally immersive experience in music, arts and lifestyle, Orion Music and More cannot simply be called a metal festival. Organizers and the band themselves have gone on record multiple times stating that Orion could ideally become a music festival that happens to be curated by Metallica. A fifth stage was added to the festival this year (the Sanitarium stage) catering to EBM and Dubstep music and that stage was crowded with fans for the entire day.
The breaking news of the day wound up being a surprise 45 minute set of music at 4:45pm by Metallica, where the band played the entire Kill 'Em All album on the Vans Damage Inc stage. Billed as ‘dehaan’, with only a gritty black and white photo on the Orion website, fans were posting questions about the band, questioning who they were and how they got onto the bill. As a banner was raised on the Vans Damage Inc stage with dehaan crossed out and 'Metal Up Yer Ass' scrawled over the logo in the familiar looking Metallica looking font, the jig was up. Fans from all over the venue flocked to the smallest stage at the festival to see the Orion Music and More curating band deliver their debut album in its entirety.
This surprise Metallica set threw a bit of a wrench into the Tomahawk performance, which was supposed to start at 5:00pm. Only MIKE PATTON could seamlessly walk on stage, fire up his music and levy a blistering set of material as 'Whiplash' was being performed one stage beside him.
Music fans had their choice of 19 musical acts on this first day of Orion Music and More. Bands playing included Foals, Tomahawk, Infectious Grooves, The Orwells, Dead Sara dehaan (Metallia), FLAG, Matt Clarke, Dirtyphonics, Borgore, Dillon Francis, BASSNECTAR, BATTLECROSS, Death Grips, Silversun Pickups, The Bronx, Dropkick Murphys, Rise Against, and day one headliners Red Hot Chili Peppers.
In addition to the musical features, Orion Music and More had numerous additional attractions:
2013 Custom Car + Motorcycle Show:
100 of the best Customs, Hot Rods, Muscle Cars, and Custom Motorcycles were on display again this year at the Orion Custom Car + Motorcycle Show inside the festival grounds, throughout the entire weekend. Orion ticket holders will be able to check out incredible machines from across the world, including James Hetfield’s West Coast Chopper, 1936 Ford Custom “Iron Fist” and a 1953 Buick Skylark “Skyscraper”, as well as Rob’s 1964 Buick Riviera.
Globe of Death:
The Nerveless Nocks brought danger and excitement to Orion this summer! The Globe of Death is a daring and exhilarating motorcycle stunt act, where fear is not an option. Fans watched this world-famous thrill-show family race their motorcycles within the confines of an 18-foot-tall steel ball cage.
Motorbreath Alley Art Show:
Car art enthusiasts were invited to deck out the Motorbreath Alley Gallery with their best custom car art!
2013 Hit The Lights Films:
Lars Ulrich was super excited to be focusing on all things “Metallica Through The Never,” the upcoming 3D feature film that will hit IMAX theatres in North America on September 27th. The film’s director, Nimrod Antal, was on hand, along with editor Joe Hutshing, and producers Charlotte Huggins and Adam Ellison. Bob and Jeanne Berney from Picturehouse, a leading independent film distribution company, joined in to talk about theatre distribution, marketing, and publicity.
Kirk’s Crypt was back, bigger, better and more horrific than ever. More monsters, more of Kirk's horror collection, more icons of horror cinema in person, more to experience monster madness, and simply TOO MUCH HORROR for one mind to handle. Kirk's likeness toys were on display just outside of the crypt. Leatherface Gunnar Hansen (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre) and master of FX, Tom Savini (Dawn of the Dead, From Dusk Till Dawn, Creepshow and more) were also in attendance.
2013 Vans Damage Inc. Stage + Vert Ramp:
This year Orion organizers attached the Damage Inc. Stage to the Vans ramp! Fans watched pro riders tear up the 30-foot wide Vans Vert Ramp while some equally intense bands — and special guests — performed live.
2013 Metallica Museum:
The Metallica Museum in 2013 featured Classic Metallica Guitars (including the last bass that Cliff Burton ever played), Amps, Lyrics, Merchandise, Stage Props and More.
Enter Met Club:
For Met Club members, Orion Music + More included a pimped out lounge with exclusive access just for die-hard fans. With comfy lounge seating, a bar, and plenty of shade, Enter Met Club was an exclusive spot for members to meet-up, mingle and engage with one another… only this time, it was better than before.
2013 Feed ‘Em All Food Court:
Orion is not your average music festival, so it only makes sense to include food and drink options that appeal to the range of rockers hitting up the fest. Organizers enlisted the help of Detroit restaurateur and entrepreneur Phil Cooley of Slows Bar-B-Q to fill Orion’s food area, Feed ‘Em All, with some of the region’s great offerings.
2013 Ktulu’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Emporium:
Artists, collectors, and enthusiasts participated in the second annual Ktulu’s Rock ‘N’ Roll Emporium, an experience-based market only found at Belle Isle.
2013 My World Village:
Orion Music + More prized a healthy planet and healthy lifestyles, which aimed to minimize its impact on the environment and invited all guests to join the effort, with ROCK & RECYCLE and waste reduction. Last year, Orion fans avoided using over 26,000 water bottles by using free refilling stations throughout the park, so once again fans were encouraged to bring an empty water bottle. Meanwhile, Forgotten Harvest collected excess food from the food courts and put it to good use to help supply some of the 260 emergency food providers in the Detroit area. While at My World Village, fans were able to get on the list with Love Hope Strength’s bone marrow database, support Project C.U.R.E.’s efforts to improve medical practices in over 120 different countries, see how Detroit SOUP is benefiting the surrounding community, and learn about early skin cancer prevention with The Ronnie James Dio Stand Up and Shout Cancer Fund.
2013 f.y.e. Record Store + Autograph Tent:
Fans were able to visit with their fave bands when they visited the f.y.e. Autograph Tent for each day’s Schedule of Artist Autograph Sessions.
ESP Guitar Experience:
The festival’s official guitar sponsor, once again brought the ESP Guitar Experience, a place where fans could get hands-on with the high-performance instruments they make for Kirk Hammett, James Hetfield, Deftones, Dillinger Escape Plan and many others.
The CAMP (Community Arts Moving Projects) was an exhibition of touring art pieces from Detroit’s finest creative talent. Whimsical light benders, monumental steel sculptures, organic structures, and illuminated objects were exhibited in this space. This was the last opportunity to see all of these pieces in one place before they are redeployed to help beautify Detroit neighbourhoods. CAMP believes that the continued progress of Detroit may be augmented through the exhibition of the region’s exemplary creative talent on the global stage. Through the combined efforts of Opportunity Detroit, the Detroit Techno Foundation and the Movement Festival, C.A.M.P was able to showcase some of Detroit’s most talented artists on Belle Isle at ORION.
From a purely musical standpoint, day one of Orion Music and More offered many musical highlights. Some fans stood in front of certain stages determined to see entire sets of music from three or four bands, while others walked around from stage to stage, taking in a little bit of everything the festival had to offer. In this sense, Orion Music and More is indeed well on its way to becoming an event for MUSIC fans, and not just metal fans. One of the finest performances of the day (in my opinion) happened on the Fuel stage at 3:00pm as the UK five-piece FOALS dropped everyone's jaws for an hour of quite unique British progressive rock, starting with a supped up live rendition of the instrumental 'Prelude' from their latest album Holy Fire.
Quite frankly, I could have just stood in front of the Fuel stage for the entire day. Everything there blew my mind. After Foals, Tomahawk played a killer live set of ultra LOUD and heavy material compromised of the best offerings from Tomahawk's four commercial releases. Featuring four fine musicians - Mike Patton (Faith No More, Mr. Bungle, Fantômas), Duane Denison (Jesus Lizard) John Stanier (Helmet) and Trevor Dunn (Mr. Bungle, Fantômas, Secret Chiefs 3, Melvins) - Tomahawk as a live experience is something any music fan needs to behold. Duane Denison was on fire for the entire hour. And Mike Patton, arguably one of the finest singers on the planet, set the bar high for the festival by the time the band was doing their rendition of 'Rape This Day' early into their performance.
The third of three acts on the Fuel stage was a re-united Infectious Grooves. Comprised of Mike Muir and Steve Brunner (Suicidal Tendencies), Robert Trujillo (Metallica), Stephen Perkins (Jane's Addiction) and Jim Martin (Faith No More), this marked the first time in over a decade that Muir, Trujillo, and Perkins had performed Infectious Grooves material together. The addition of Jim Martin and Steve Brunner made this more of an event than a mere reunion. James Hetfield was side stage, banging his head and enjoying the show along with the rest of us. Stirling covers of 'Mountain Song' (Jane's Addiction) and 'Immigrant Song' (Led Zeppelin) along with some classic jams like 'Punk It Up', 'Stop Funk'n With My Head' and 'Therapy' made this hour long set by Infectious Grooves something magical to behold.
James Hetfield and Rob Trujillo introduced Battlecross before the Detroit locals took the Frantic stage and tore up the crowd with an hour of their pummelling metal. The Orwells, on the Vans Damage Stage were an interesting band to watch as well. Vocalist Mario Cuomo certainly has an emotive stage presence. The band's mixture of punk jams and crooning vocals seemed to work quite well together. I knew nothing about them prior to seeing them perform, and I quite liked what I saw.
Fans were easily entertained on the Budweiser Orion main stage by The Bronx and Dropkick Murphys, two acts that have built up really strong fan support with years of touring under their collective belts. I've seen both of these bands perform at other festivals already. It was a given that they would easily get an audience reaction long before they took the stage. James Hetfield gave a nice introduction to the Silversun Pickups, who took the stage late, Hetfield joked, due to some 'dehaan band' throwing the whole festival out of whack. Ex members of Black Flag (performing as Flag) appeared on the Vans Damage Inc stage at 6:30p and delivered some of the finest Black Flag material to a mixed crowd of onlookers. Sure there was no Greg Ginn or Henry Rollins… but Stephen Egerton, Keith Morris, Bill Stevenson, Chuck Dukowski and Dez Cadena did a fine job, regardless.
While the Santiarium stage pulsed and surged for the entire day, entertaining fans new and old to the magic that is EBM and Dubstep, I only really got the chance to check out Dirtyphonics. The four fellows in that band, wedged on a riser behind a large videotronic screen, blasted the hell out of the crowd for the entirety of their set. Everyone watching them was totally into it, and I found the energy entirely contagious. I stayed and watched a good chunk of their performance, which was a lot more than I had originally planned on.
By the time the Red Hot Chili Peppers walked on stage at 8:00pm sharp and started into 'Dani California', the Orion Music and More festival had, in my mind, already achieved its goal. The vibe was awesome. There were more people swamped in front of that main stage than Orion last year in New Jersey. I'll bet that there were Red Hot Chili Peppers fans who were just attending for the single day. The Chili Peppers effortlessly ran through their repertoire of hit material to a satisfied crowd of attendees, as the sun set over Belle Isle on what turned out to be a perfect day of both weather and music.