Metallica and Friends Thrill and ‘Kill’ at 2013 Orion Music + More Festival
Metallica and their musical friends brought a number of unforgettable performances to the sophomore outing of the metal goliath’s Orion Music + More festival, which may have found a permanent home on Detroit’s Belle Isle.
Metallica’s Orion Music + More is easily the most unique major rock festival in the United States. More established festivals like Lollapalooza (now headed into its 9th year in Chicago) and Rock on the Range (which just concluded its 7th year) may have more of the technical details worked out, but it’s hard to match Orion in the personality department. Metallica have their hands in every aspect of this festival and it certainly shows. Orion may have had some early logistical hiccups, but you can tell that the band is going out of their way to make this a special event for their fans.
Getting into the venue itself proved difficult the first day. The massive line for ‘Will Call’ tickets ran most of the length of the Cobo Center due to there only being four ticket agents on duty. Shuttle busses stationed outside the Cobo were the only way on and off of the island. The only problem was that at 1:30p, it was a 20 minute walk to the end of the line and then another 30 minutes of waiting in said line.
Once you were on Belle Isle, there was plenty to be seen both on and offstage. Perhaps the most memorable performance of the entire weekend took place when a mystery band named “dehaan” took the small Damage Inc. stage at 4:30PM. There had been speculation about who the band actually was due to there being no information about them online. Turns out it was Metallica themselves performing their debut album ‘Kill ‘Em All’ in its entirety. The band fired through each track like 1983 was just yesterday. They even blew the dust off of the prolific bass-led track ‘Anesthesia (Pulling Teeth),’ which marks the first time the track has been performed in full since 1986. Oddly enough, several people missed out on this special set, despite Dropkick Murphys telling everyone at the other end of the field that they heard someone was performing Metallica songs over there. There wasn’t a fist that wasn’t in the air as the band riffed their way through the thrash metal classic ‘Seek and Destroy’ and then closed with the spastic and grinding ‘Metal Militia.’
The secret set proved that Metallica were going the extra mile to make this memorable for the fans. Would they have sold more two-day tickets if they were listed as performing both days? Probably, but the way they executed their secret set made the experience that much more special. Plus it gave Lars a chance to joke that they would perform ‘Re-Load’ in its entirety next. They did not.
Rise Against hit the main stage shortly after “dehaan” wrapped things up, and upped the intensity with high-energy rockers like ‘Re-Education (Through Labor)’ and ‘Ready to Fall.’ Silversun Pickups also brought some life to the middle of the day after an intro from Mr. James Hetfield, who watched from side stage as the band turned in excellent performances of ‘The Royal We,’ ‘Well Thought Out Twinkles,’ the hard-hitting ‘Mean Spirits’ and eventually closed with fan fave ‘Lazy Eye.’
Red Hot Chili Peppers finished off the first day of Orion in grand fashion, with a career spanning set. The band sounded at the top of their game and managed to pack 19 songs into 2 hours. Oddly enough, they acted as if they would play ‘Especially in Michigan’ twice, yet never delivered. They did, however, give fans plenty of other great tunes to enjoy, such as ‘Soul to Squeeze,’ ‘Under the Bridge,’ and, finally, ‘Give It Away.’
After a great performance, the fans exited the venue to again face impossibly long lines to get aboard the shuttle bus. Luckily, someone got the word out about the issues that plagued day one and somebody fixed them. There was virtually no wait in or out of the venue on day two, despite there appearing to be more in attendance.
The only long lines on day two were for food, beverages, the Metallica Museum and Kirk’s Crypt. The latter of which featured Kirk Hammett’s impressive collection of horror movie memorabilia. There were a few more hard-hitting acts the second day and All Shall Parish set the tone by provoking the crowd to start a circle-pit during the day’s first set. The Dillinger Escape Plan ripped things up on the Fuel stage with unpredictable guitar arrangements and vocalist Greg Puciato’s blood-curdling screams.
On the other side of the field, alt-rock fans waited for the Joy Formidable to take the Orion stage, which never happened due to the band having difficulty with travel. Deftones were the next act on that stage and turned in an incredible set. They started with a trio of tunes from their previous album, ‘Diamond Eyes,’ and also played classics like ‘My Own Summer (Shove It)’ and ‘Change (In the House of Flies).’ Unfortunately, the set became difficult for some to hear after Destroid filled the air with robot noises from his set on the too-close Sanitarium stage.
Finally, Metallica took the stage and closed the weekend with a bang (actually, several if you count the pyro and fireworks that accompanied some of the later tunes). They didn’t do the full album thing, nor did the rumored appearance of Bob Seger happen, but the band still thrilled by plowing through the classics. ‘Orion,’ ‘Master of Puppets,’ ‘One’ and ‘Battery’ were among the highlights, as was the explosive rendition of ‘Enter Sandman’ that led to the band’s encore. The band went ahead with their version of ‘Turn the Page’ without Seger and gave a proper send off to those who missed “dehaan” with ‘Seek and Destroy.’
As James Hetfield mentioned during their headlining set, the weekend was not without mistakes. However, the band did go the extra mile by fixing the issues where many others would’ve just let it ride and made note of them for next year. Little things like that, having the best smelling port-a-johns in music festival history, having a wide selection of food from local vendors and the members of the band introducing the acts and hosting car competitions make Orion an experience that, while quite large in size, is oddly intimate. Hetfield also seemed genuinely concerned when he asked if everybody enjoyed the festival being held in Detroit and hinted that it would likely return to the site. With everything that they fixed in one day and all the things that went well, it will be pretty amazing to see what they have in store for next year.