Orion Festival In Photos: The Bands, The Scene, And The “Potato Tornado”


I spent the past two days at Atlantic City’s Bader Field, which played host to the inaugural Orion Music + More Festival, a two-day “music, arts and lifestyle” bonanza put together by the thrash kings in Metallica. It was pretty great all around—James Hetfield kept referring to the bash as a “backyard party,” and while things weren’t that intimate, the way that the band left its stamp on all aspects of the festival (particularly the big-tent aspect of the musical lineup) gave it a charge of intimacy and care that was much more present than at other multi-band, multi-day extravaganzas I’ve attended in recent years. A detailed report will come later, but for now, please enjoy these pictures of various scenes from the past two days.

Orion was held at Bader Field, just across the water from Atlantic City’s main drag, Atlantic Avenue. (You know, the one from Monopoly.)

Kirk Hammett’s tent of horror-movie memorabilia had long lines throughout the weekend, so this sign advertising appearances by the star of The Exorcist was as far as I got as far as a glimpse inside.

Each member of Metallica had an area devoted to one of their passions—Hammett had the aforementioned shrine to scary movies, Lars Ulrich had a tent where he showed films (including Before The Wall: Body & Being, directed by his father and with a soundtrack by Ulrich) and interviewed directors, Robert Trujillo played the Vans-sponsored skate ramp, and James Hetfield hung out at the car and motorcycle show, which had some of his vehicles on display. This was not one of them, but the way the green and purple sparkled in the sun was pretty great.

Fucked Up were in fine, sweaty form under the baking sun, and Damian Abraham certainly deserved this pat on the head.

Before certain bands played, members of Metallica would come out and try and contextualize them for those people whose tastes might not have ventured far beyond Metallica’s releases. One of my favorite moments of the festival came when Lars Ulrich introduced Hot Snakes and said that they had been “the soundtrack to my fuckin’ life” for the past year—while he said this, John Reis looked down and had a bashful grin on his face, which warmed my heart. The band then ripped through a set of cracked-pavement surf-rock, and while there were diehards in attendance, they also seemed to attract more than a few converts.

These guys had the best seats (standing room?) in the house for Arctic Monkeys’ set on Saturday.

My favorite non-Metallica set of the weekend was by Arctic Monkeys, who, thanks to being from the UK, are old pros at the whole festival thing. Their music has taken a bit of a darker turn in the past year, sounding more wobbly and bleary-eyed but retaining the tightness that made early hits of theirs like “I Bet You Look Good On The Dancefloor” crackle. Alex Turner is a fantastic frontman, too.

The Swedish prog-doom outfit Ghost were absolutely spellbinding, and not just because of the elaborate getups worn by frontman Papa Emeritus and the Nameless Ghouls backing him up—their gloomy music is shot through with hooks, and the way their melodies lure in the listener makes the spectacle they put forth at 2 in the afternoon underneath a fairly punishing sun all the more shiver-inducing.

This guy had the patch game on lockdown (the front of his vest had a The Real Thing-era Faith No More patch as well as a host of others). R.I.P. Revolution Rock, indeed.

The “potato tornado,” or, one really long potato chip, on a stick. Surely some Brooklyn eatery will snap up this fair-food-borne idea for artisanal purposes soon enough.

Two members of Titus Andronicus repped for Brooklyn’s Shea Stadium during their Sunday-evening set, which started off with three blistering new songs and featured a slightly made-over lineup.

The weekend’s other long line stretched outside the Metallica Museum, which collected memorabilia and art from the band’s storied history (the head of “Doris” from the …And Justice For All tour, various instruments, album and tour poster art). This poster from a show on Staten Island is “vintage” enough to be from the pre-718 era.

The sunset scene before Metallica’s festival-closing, Black Album-honoring set. It almost looks… peaceful. (It actually was; this festival was exceedingly well-run, with a great atmosphere all around.)