As an avid festival-goer for a few years now, I’m slowly getting the hang of getting through multiple days of seemingly endless walking, expensive food/beverages, long waiting periods between sets, conflicting schedules and all the craziness that revolves around trying to get a spot towards the front of the stage. And while there are certain components that ring true no matter which festival you may be referring to, the beauty lies in the performances and the unique experience that goes with being one of the few people on Earth that are present for the awesomeness that is about to go down. The Metallica-curated festival, Orion Music + More, definitely delivered and I couldn’t have asked for it to have gone all that differently.
Let me start out by saying that, for whatever reasons may be, I did not take in the festival for all that it offered. For as much as I wanted to catch sets from bands like FIDLAR and my hometown’s The Orwells, or check out the Metallica museum and Kirk’s Crypt, I just couldn’t.
Day 1, for me, started with Foals. The UK band filled the air with their dance-y brand of Rock and cool grooves worthy of the hype they’re starting to generate. After that, we headed over to see the Dropkick Murphys. The Celtic punk rockers immediately drew a crowd, but once word got out that Metallica were around to perform I had to leave and check that out.
Bit of advice regarding festivals: whenever you see a crowd running towards something, that’s when you must drop what you’re doing and follow!
The metal legends hit the stage as dehaan and played their debut album Kill ‘Em All in its entirety. Ignoring the surprise factor, Metallica put on a hell of a show as they ripped through Thrash Metal classics “The Four Horsemen,” “Motorbreath” and “Seek & Destroy.” They sounded like not one day had passed since the album originally dropped (we were approaching the 30th anniversary of its release), playing as hard and fast as fans of that era of the band’s music can hope for. 15 year old me would have gone crazy if “he” would’ve seen this performance, Kill ‘Em All being one of my favorite albums at the time.
After being sufficiently pumped thanks to that surprise Metallica performance, we headed over to the main stage for Rise Against while also hoping we can end up with a good spot for the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The Chicago band played excellent live renditions of fan-favorites like “Sattelite,” “Prayer Of The Refugee” and “Savior,” getting the crowd riled up and moshing; making it feel like everyone there was around to see Rise Against.
The Chili Peppers came on an hour later and swept through all the “classics.” Personal favorites “Scar Tissue,” “Can’t Stop,” “By The Way,” “Californication,” “Under The Bridge,” and “Higher Ground” absolutely killed, with all of us fans singing along to Kiedis’ every word like we were the Chili’s personal thousands-strong backup singers.
You can buy the official live cut of the Chili Peppers performing at Orion Fest HERE.
If we started Day 1 late, we started Day 2 even later!
With a menu that included pb & j sammy’s (won’t be having those for a long time) and sharing a decent-sized jug (!!!) of Jack & Coke, we got to Belle Isle just in time to catch Japandroids. The Canadian duo played a no-frills, all-Rocking set that helped justify their following. My buddy is a big-time Deftones fan so we cut the Japandroids viewing short and headed over early enough to get a good spot for their show and man did we get we want. Slipped through the moshing and craziness that is a live Deftones show to end up landing in what was technically the third row. Chino and the rest of the Cali rockers played tracks like “Diamond Eyes,” “My Own Summer (Shove It)” and “Change (In the House of Flies).” I even got to tap Chino on the arm, who came down to perform by us.
Deftones set the stage perfectly for Metallica, that is until security came in and tried to remove those of that weren’t bearers of the green VIP wristband.
Note to concert/festival organizers: real fans aren’t only those that pay a little extra for their ticket but rather those of us who fight through mosh-pits and slick their way to the front of the stage (*without pushing and being a dick about it) or get their early enough and willingly stand for hours without leaving for food or drinks, or see any number of bands that may come on before them (whether we like them or not) as long as our dedication is rewarded with the front row spot for our favorite band that we worked so hard for.
After an hour of fighting off security guards who tried removing us from the pit (thanks to the teamwork of all of us who were unwilling to budge), Metallica came on stage and proceeded to kill it. These guys demonstrated exactly why they’re Rock/Metal legends and heralded so highly. Surprises like “I Disappear” and “Carpe Diem Baby” filled out a setlist that also included classic headbangers like “Orion,” “Master Of Puppets, “One,” “Turn The Page,” “Enter Sandman,” and “Nothing Else Matters” (see above).
No “Unforgiven” or my all-time favorite song of theirs, “Fade To Black,” but that hardly mattered. Metallica put on possibly one of the best shows I’ve ever witnessed (and if you follow my instagram, you’d know I’ve seen a ton of shows!). Lars still bangs the drum like a maniac (on beat), Rob Trujillo’s playing stance looks bad-ass live and it’s like his sound personified, Kirk Hammett’s guitar work is the stuff of legend and James Hetfield’s voice is as powerful and menacing as ever. Metallica is awesome, and if there were ever any doubts of that (definitely not by me), Orion Fest killed all of that.