Orion Music + More Festival Rolls into Atlantic City

Metallica’s big two-day affair takes over Bader Field June 23-24. Read interview with Kirk Hammett, and find out about parking, prohibited items, bands, festival map and who's playing on what stage when.

By Ed Condran

Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Jun. 20, 2012

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UPDATE: Click here for a photo gallery from the two-day festival at Bader Field.


“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.”

It doesn’t get much bigger than the Orion Music + More Festival, which is slated to hit Bader Field in Atlantic City Saturday and Sunday, June 23 and 24.

Metallica, which organized the inspired fest, will headline Saturday and Sunday. The former night the iconic thrash-metalists will play their 1984 album Ride the Lightning in its entirety. It’s the first time that Metallica will give Ride the Lightning the front to back treatment. They will do the same with the Black Album (from 1991) the following evening. The disc, which is also known as the eponymous Metallica album, is the band’s most popular set to date. It includes the menancing “Enter Sandman,” the powerful “Sad But True” and the moving power ballad “Nothing Else Matters.”

“When we made it I no idea that it [the Black Album] would have ever crossed over like that,” Hammett says.

That album didn’t just cross over, Metallica did as well. 

Read last week's interview with Kirk Hammett.

The group is among the most massive in the world and it’s helping other acts, some of which are underheralded, get some serious exposure with the Atlantic City festival, announced by the band earlier this year.

The Arctic Monkeys, who were touted as the next great thing out of England, when their first album, Whatever People Say I Am, dropped in 2006, impressed as openers for the Black Keys during the spring. Suck It And See, the band’s fourth album is full of catchy, snide cuts.

“What’s been so good is that we’ve been able to get a lot of exposure,” vocalist-guitarist Alex Turner says. “That’s always a good thing.”

New Brunswick’s Gaslight Anthem will preview songs from its forthcoming album, 45, which drops in late July.

Read: Lars Ulrich Interview, why Metallica chose Atlantic City for the Orion festival?

Alt-rock darlings Modest Mouse will perform Sunday just prior to Metallica, which goes to show that you don’t have to bludgeon fans with the same style of music ad nauseum at a festival.

Metallica has nailed it in terms of coming up with an eclectic group of acts that deliver uncompromising music.

Cage the Elephant, the young band out of Kentucky — obviously weaned on plenty of Nirvana and the Pixies — has come a long way courtesy of its catchy pop-rock, which it will showcase Saturday.

“We’re looking forward to it,” vocalist Matt Shultz says. “Who wouldn’t want to be part of a festival that Metallica is putting on?”

One of the finest acts few have heard of playing the Festival is Best Coast. The California based band is comprised of ardent Metallica fans. The group’s breezy single “The Only Place” is the best ode to the Golden State since Dirty Gold’s “California Sunrise” dropped last year. The band’s album is full of melodic, pleasing tracks. Best Coast is one of those acts that is certainly on the rise.

Watch: Video of Metallica announcing the Orion festival in Atlantic City in February

Of course, there will be some metal at the show. Brazilian headbangers Sepultura will perform. The venerable band has been at it as long as Metallica, since it formed in 1984.

There will be some metal and comedy, too, as Hunterdon County’s Jim Breuer will bring the laughs and the noise as his heavy metal comedy tour stops at the fest. 

“Metallica has always been one of my favorite bands,” Breuer says. “There is no other band like Metallica. If you’re into metal, you have to be into Metallica.”

And there is no other festival like Orion. The distinct personalities of the four members of Metallica will come alive for the festival as fans will be able to experience “lifestyle” tents and attractions put together by each band member. 

The straightforward mind of the band, James Hetfield is a huge automobile enthusiast. He collects cars and also builds engines and will display his pride and joy, a 1936 Auburn Roadster, among many other of his custom cars at Orion. Hammett, who is a horror-film memorabilia collector has put together “Kirk’s Crypt,” which will include film props, comics and posters.

Bassist Robert Trujillo, who embraces the outdoors, has made sure that there will be a skateboarding show at the site. And for those who would like to trek to the beach from Bader Field, there will be a surfing competition.

The fest smacks more of the Warped Tour than Ozzfest. In fact, Vans, who sponsors the Warped Tour, has put together a group of riders, who will perform on a mini-pipe at Orion.

Who knows what kind of surprises are in store for fans of Metallica and other bands?

UPDATE: Click here for a photo gallery from the two-day festival at Bader Field.

Orion truly will be a break from the homogenous, which has dominated rock fests for the last 20 years. The event is a throwback to a generation or two ago when festivals were eclectic and exciting. 

Orion is one more major event that proves that Atlantic City can handle festivals of any size. Can Atlantic City take on a South By Southwest-type of fest (four days and nights of music)? The town is certainly making an argument for the case and the massive Orion festival, following three shows by Phish the weekend prior, is certainly a step in the right direction.


The Orion Music + More Festival 

When: Saturday and Sunday, 
June 23-24, 1pm start 

Where: Bader Field, Atlantic City.

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