Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Orion - A Legendary Weekend In Music and In Detroit

This past weekend Orion Music & More headed to Detroit. The festival, put on by Metallica, is in its second year, with the first in Atlantic City, NJ and this year in its new and hopefully permanent home on Belle Isle. Throughout the week leading up to the event, Detroit was full of both speculation and excitement. No one was quite sure what to expect, but once the Instagram scavenger hunts for 2-Day passes began, the hype grew and we were all ready to see what this fest was all about.

Friday night there were two Pre-Parties for Orion, one at St. Andrew's Hall featuring Baroness and Coliseum. The other, which we chose to attend, was at The Majestic Theatre with The Orwells, The Bronx and Chevy Metal (featuring Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters). On our way to the show, word quickly began pouring in that Metallica actually showed up to the St. Andrew's show to introduce Baroness, which quickly improved our opinion of the legendary band. We were hoping they would show up at our show too, but that never happened.

Regardless, we were thrilled with our pick for the night! The Bronx fuckin' rocked, as they always do. We are afraid the band may have been a little disappointed in the crowd, as not too many turned out, but that just means the next time they head to town we have to show them an even better time. 

Chevy Metal headlined the show and proclaimed themselves the "wedding band from hell" which was a pretty accurate description. They played a ton of favorites from the 70s and 80s and joked with the crowd, which made it seem like we really were just hanging out and partying together. Taylor is amazing on the drums, so that in itself was entertaining. Needless to say, after Friday night we were really looking forward to what the weekend would bring.

Once Saturday morning rolled around, Orion was already a legendary concert, but not exactly for the right reasons. Reports were filling social media, talking about 3 hour lines for tickets, super long waits for shuttles, and complaints about fans missing the bands they wanted to see. People were pissed and their opinions of this festival were not so great. Luckily, by the end of the weekend the concert goers' views changed and we started hearing words like "epic", "legendary" and "music history" get thrown around by everyone we talked to.
Photo Courtesy of Orion Music & More - Credit: Dave Rodriguez
So what made this festival so "epic"? The list is long! Amazing lineup, perfect weather, fans from all over the country and the world... let's just say Metallica knows how to put on one hell of a party!

Our day on Saturday started off pretty awesome. We got a later start, but lucky for us, that meant we walked right up for our tickets, got right on a shuttle, and started our day off by walking up to Metallica playing a secret show, on one of the smallest stages on the island, under the code name Dehaan. The band played "Kill 'Em All" in it's entirety, which was a once in a lifetime experience for the 1,000-ish fans that were lucky enough to witness it. Throughout the set more and more fans kept walking up in disbelief.
Orion Music & More - Credit:Dave Mead
Next up we wandered around to get the vibe of the whole festival. The stages were spaced far enough apart that they weren't interfering with each other, yet they were close enough that you could get from one to the next quick enough to see the bands you wanted to catch. There were a ton of people, but it was open enough that you weren't traveling in herds. Belle Isle is seriously a beautiful place for a concert like this!

Orion Music & More - Credit: Jack Edinger

The vast array of music on Orion brought together a wide variety of fans, but also allowed attendees the chance to check out all sorts of music. For instance, we officially checked out our first EDM show, with Bassnectar, which was something we probably wouldn't have done otherwise. But, it was fun, good people watching and LOUD! We definitely get the appeal now.

Some other highlights of Saturday were hanging with our good friends in Wilson, checking out Rise Against, FLAG and Red Hot Chili Peppers.

Orion Music & More - Credit: Dave Mead
Orion Music & More - Credit: Cambria Harkey
Orion Music & More - Credit: Dave Rodriguez
Day 2 of Orion was pretty great as well! We didn't hear any complaints like the day before. In fact, most people made it sounds like it was smooth sailing!

The masses were excited about the big names of the day, Deftones, Gogol Bordello and (of course) Metallica.
On the other hand, we were really looking forward to seeing someone else. Rocket From The Crypt! And we weren't the only ones! James Hetfield came out before the band's set to personally introduce them as a band he loves and was excited to see. Pretty amazing! Several of the bands of Orion were in the somewhat small crowd to check these guys out, as were many of Detroit's favorite musicians. You would never have been able to tell that RFTC took a break for several years and have only played a handful of shows since their return. They were super entertaining and as cliche as it sounds, they didn't miss a beat. We hope they keep it up and stick around for awhile! (We also think they need to tour with Mariachi El Bronx, since they have very similar taste in clothes!)

Orion ended with a pretty amazed crowd that enjoyed pyrotechnics and Metallica - on an island, in Detroit, with their friends. It definitely made for a monumental experience and a weekend that none of us will ever forget. Yeah, there were a few kinks that needed to be worked out, but hopefully those won't be an issue in the upcoming years,  because at the end of the night James  Hetfield announced  that Orion will be held in Detroit again next year.
Orion Music & More - Credit: Cambria Harkey

Despite the problems, there were tons of things that Orion did right. As we said, the location was awesome as were the bands. But, there was more to it than that. Between bands, there was plenty to check out, with Kirk's Crypt, the Metallica Museum, a car show, films and pro-skaters.
The food court was full of Detroit favorites like Slow's and Mercury Bar, all decently priced. There were plenty of bars, so you didn't have to wait long for a drink and you didn't have to pay as much as at most events. Everything was kept clean, mostly because of a promotion that Orion put on awarding fans a free shirt if they went around and picked up a whole bag of recyclables. A great idea to prevent trashing the island and a good way to keep people occupied if there wasn't someone they wanted to see at that second.

Overall Orion Music & More was a success and a blast in our book. It's well worth the $150 for a 2 Day Pass. As many people pointed out, they've paid that much to see just one band on the bill in the past, whether it was Deftones, Metallica or RHCP. We hope everyone else had as great of an experience as we did. And, even more so, we can't wait to do it again next year!

1 comment:

  1. Such a great weekend. Really hope Metallica does this again next year, because there isn't a single other fest out there that matches the diversity of this lineup.