If you were thinking about avoiding Bader Field in Atlantic City the weekend of June 23-24 because you’re just not a fan of heavy metal music, you may want to reconsider your decision.
Last week, Metallica, the enduing metal band, announced more additions to the lineup for its first-ever, years-in-the-making Orion Music + More festival. And not all of the 29 acts scheduled are metal bands. Far from it.
While the media may be branding Orion a heavy metal marathon, Metallica is looking — and booking — with a broader audience in mind. Musical styles that will be represented include everything from brassy New Orleans jazz to soul, punk, country, psychedelic and even comedy with a heavy metal twist.
“We’ve had the idea of doing our own lifestyle festival with lots of diverse music and fun and games for years,” Metallica drummer and founding member Lars Ulrich said on the band’s Web site (Click here to read AC Weekly's interview with Ulrich). “Finally this year all the practical ducks lined up in a row, and we are beyond psyched to bring Orion to our fans, friends and the curious.”
The curious and musically open minded who buy passes to the two-day event shouldn’t be disappointed. In addition to bands from a variety of genres such as Arctic Monkeys, Avenged Sevenfold, Modest Mouse, The Gaslight Anthem and F**ked Up, Orion Music + More will include bands and solo artists who hardly fit the metal mold.
The different musical genres represented at the festival reflect the diverse musical interests of the members of Metallica, the band said. Metallica got serious about planning the festival in December after its weeklong 30th anniversary celebration of the band’s debut at the Fillmore in San Francisco.
Metallica and the promoter of the festival, Starr Hill Presents, have also made Orion Music + More fairly affordable to the masses, too. A two-day “early bird” pass purchased now is $150. Do the math; with 29 acts already scheduled (and the possibility of more), that works out to around $5 per band).
For those who consider money no object, VIP passes are available for $750. For that price, perks include unlimited access to a private lounge, space on a viewing platform with premium sight lines of the main stage, beer, wine and other beverages and catered food all day.
Here’s a preview of a few of the festival’s recently-added acts:
Eric Church - About 10 years ago, this country music singer-songwriter, who makes his Atlantic City headliner debut Saturday (March 17) at Trump Taj Mahal, was on the verge of quitting music, getting married and joining the corporate world. But music was more powerful than love, so he broke off his engagement and — bankrolled by his father for six months — moved to Nashville to chase his dream. His debut LP Sinners Like Me spun off four Top 20 singles, and his third studio LP Chief, released last year, not only hit the top of the country chart but also produced his first No. 1 single, “Drink In My Hand.”
Gary Clark Jr. - Inspired by traditional blues artists like John Lee Hooker, T-Bone Walker and Lightnin’ Hopkins, but with a singularly distinctive sound, Clark’s guitar style has often been compared to that of Jimi Hendrix. He’s considered one of the leaders of the rock scene in Austin, Texas, and while he blends a variety of musical genres like rock, soul, blues, he has a broad and independent music streak that puts him in a category all by himself and makes him impossible to label as one particular kind of musician.
Soul Rebels - This eight-man New Orleans-based band of brass musicians was once referred to by the Village Voice as the “missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” Their music celebrates the sounds synonymous with the Crescent City, but don’t mistake them for a cover band. They’ve taken both modern and classic New Orleans jazz and infused it with R&B, funk, hip-hop and rap and even added vocals. “Most of our original [songs] have vocals,” group co-founder Lumar LeBlanc said. “You wouldn’t have done that in a traditional brass band.”
Jim Breuer’s Heavy Metal Comedy Tour - It’s no joke. Then again, it is. The Saturday Night Live alum, who’s still trying to live down the “Goat Boy” character he created on the show, is serious about his music and is a big fan of heavy metal. His heavy metal show combines stand-up comedy with impressions of heavy metal singers and bands singing children’s songs (like Ozzy Osborne doing “London Bridge is Falling Down”).
Roky Erickson - At 65, he might be the patriarch of Orion Music + More. For sure he’s the most tortured soul in the lineup. He gained cult-hero status because throughout his troubled life, he’s made more headliners for his behavior and his mental problems than he has for his psychedelic music. A founding member of the band 13th Floor Elevators, he was busted in 1969 for possession of a single joint, copped an insanity plea and spent more than three years in a mental hospital. Ten years after he was released, he signed an affidavit stating that a Martian had taken residence in his body, and he gradually disappeared from the music scene. By the end of the 1980s, he was little more than an obscure answer to a trivia question. But with the help of his brother, he began turning his life around and returned to music and in 2010 released his first album of all-original material in 14 years.
Casual conversations with the stars. Watch the Emmy-winning Curtain Call with David Spatz, Saturdays at 6pm on WMGM-TV NBC40.
“We like things that are big,” Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett tells Atlantic City Weekly. “But we also like things that are interesting. As we evolve, we want to do bigger, interesting things.”
“The unpredictable is part of the appeal of this band. That makes it fun for the fans and those who are in the band. We do things a little differently than other bands.”
"As far as the new stuff goes, the new stuff is definitely very, I don’t know, I would probably say it’s our most aggressive stuff to date. As far as a full collection of songs that we have so far, we’ve probably got about 10 songs for the next album, and then, yeah, it’s definitely not leaning towards the acoustic sound at all. "
An entertainment classic never goes out of style — especially with casinos and the people they attract. That seems to be the booking strategy at several Atlantic City casinos as they scramble to complete their spring and summer lineups. What had already been shaping up to be a strong season for shows is now on the verge of becoming the biggest and most diverse collection of attractions the city has seen since the dice began rolling down the Boardwalk 34 years ago.
Along with a new Orion Festival news ticker added to the band's site, Metallica has added a Damage Inc. stage that will feature "lots of cool, heavy, thrash and punk bands."
The second of four musical events has been revealed for Bader Field with the band Phish announcing on its web site a summer tour that includes a trip to Atlantic City for three nights of performances on Friday, June 15, Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17.
This weekend's party is bringing you The Hot Tub Fringe Stage, a sick metal playlist we've compiled for your enjoyment — and some gnarly pictures of some of the greatest heavy metal hairstyles throughout the ages.
Plus the Mummers return to Boardwalk Hall, the Album of the Week ('Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan') and Drew Toonz on Metallica
"[Atlantic City's] location was really central. You’ve got good facilities, it’s not, you know, like 39 miles on some two-lane country road — that kind of vibe, you know, so it’s just the fact that it’s practical, there’s a lot of facilities and since we’re not doing like a camping thing we thought it would be good to be close to infrastructure so the fans do have like the backbone of a place like Atlantic City at their disposal."
Plus Valentine's Day dining deals at Absecon Lighthouse and Lucy the Elephant, the Album of the Week (Dr. Dog) and Drew Toonz.
If you’re into rock, blues and a touch of southern raunchiness, it doesn’t get much better than ZZ Top. The Texas trio has been playing music for close to 40 years together (unbelievable!) and — as last year’s Live From Texas release showcased — ZZ Top still cooks like a mother.