June 25, 2012
THE ORION MUSIC + MORE FESTIVAL, BADER FIELD, ATLANTIC CITY, NJ – JUNE 23/24TH 2012
...HOPE YOU DIDN’T MISS IT BECAUSE REALLY, YOU SHOULDA BEEN THERE...
You really shouldn’t live your life with past regrets, and I’m not one to push that agenda...but I hope you didn’t miss ORION, because if you did, well you’ll not just regret it, you’ll goddamn motherfucking regret it! Because the truth is, well, you missed it. And really, you shoulda been there...
“How much were tickets?” a van driver, Sean, asked me the night before the "private" Metallica weekend for 30,000+ people commenced.
“$150 bucks for two days, all taxes and fees included!” I replied.
“Wow...two days huh? So that’s $150 bucks for two days and you get to meet the band...”
I watched Sean digest the information and smile.
He was, of course, right.
Because ORION was a music festival, a music festival including the likes of Arctic Monkeys, Eric Church, Ghost and Sepultura, ORION was a music festival that had Metallica perform The Black Album in its entirety one night and Ride The Lightning the other, and ORION was about so much more. Which you’ll know if you were present, and I guess if you weren’t then, well... you shoulda been there.
ORION was about what you could do, not what you couldn’t do. ORION was about being able to go places you couldn’t rather than not being able to go anywhere at all. ORION was about having almost too much to see as opposed to not enough. ORION was about pushing the boundaries of choice as opposed to having dictated to you what was going to happen...you wanna hear some music? Well hello! Here’s four stages! You wanna hear and partake of some conversation with members of the ‘Tallica family? Come and join us. And you wanna get a next-level grip on exactly who the fuck these guys in Metallica are? Consider yourself invited...unless, of course, you missed it. In which case, well...you shoulda been there.
Advertising entails telling you about the attractions and the cool stuff, selling them, maybe trying to make sure they’re as shiny and mesmerizing in print as possible, perhaps even occasionally over-selling the article involved. And listen, I’m a writer, I know about an adjective or 25 and I think I know how to capture a moment with honesty. But the adverts for ORION, and my forthcoming description of how it was, both fail spectacularly to convey the true scope of the “lifestyle” areas Lars, Kirk, James and Rob had. These were not just tents with a few nicely lit bits’n’bobs thrown in to occupy five minutes of your time before you went out to get another beer (which, incidentally, was priced at the sort of affordability gigs in the ‘80s had! Yes, ‘80s prices, grab that concept and hug it...unless, of course, you were buying over-priced beer at some other event...)
No, these were slices of their lives cut fresh from their hearts and shared with love and revelation. Lars didn’t just show some of his favorite films, he wanted to sit and chat with you about them. He brought his father, Torben, along for some chatting too. He brought directors along for a chinwag. He even handed me a mic so as we could have a bit of a babble. But most importantly, he handed you a mike (if you were there and didn’t miss it!) so as you could chat. Lars loves to watch movies and chat when he’s at home with a free moment on his hands (that’s the tough bit, the free moment) so when I tell you this was a chance for him to do what he doesn’t get to do at home as much as he’d like to, believe it. For those of you who were in the cinema, you were in his living room at his gaff...and for those of you that weren’t, well...you shoulda been there.
James decided it might be fun to share his passion for vintage vehicles, kustomization and all things grease and wrench and crafted car related. It wasn’t a couple of matte painted bangers and some buddies from the garage, no, it was tens of dozens of vehicles to make you weep (I had my eye on a late ‘60s/early ‘70s Mustang GT and a ’66 GTO convertible, oooooo man I wanted them, I craved them, oh and the ‘64/’65? Falcom too). Het was there at 1:00 pm first day to check ‘em out for himself (he had a couple of goldens of his own you might have seen in magazines before, including the Voodoo Priest) and much like he does in his home “shop” sometimes, he partook of a car chopping session, ostensibly to show you all how it’s done but I suspect more so as he could enjoy doing some car kustomization while on the road. By the way, he thanks you for giving him the chance to have home fun on the road, and I’m sure it was a two-way deal because you got to hang with Het and his heartfelt passion...unless you weren’t around Bader Field at all. In which case, well, shoulda been there.
The top Trujo, Mr. Roberto Skateboardio-Surfelini-Trujillo, loves his boards. He loves his surfboard, he loves his skateboard and so hey . . . ramps, skaters throwing moves that you only see in movies, AND some surfing to be seen out at the water’s edge in Atlantic City (he’d have brought bigger waves if he could’ve I know) and all with VANS and Billabong supporting the daredevils. I didn’t get half the chances I wanted to see Rob’s world at ORION (file under – ‘A Fucking Incredible Amount of Cool Shit To Do and Not Enough Hours in The Day’) so guess what? Well, I missed some of it, but hopefully you saw all of it unless you weren’t anywhere near Atlantic City at all in which case, well, you really shoulda been there.
And then there was Kirk’s Crypt. Which was really “Kirk’s chance to have a big old fucking space with as many of his favorite things as inhumanly possible" sitting amidst spreads from his forthcoming Too Much Horror Business book, his own classic car resplendent with Kirk Von Hammett behind the wheel, a half dozen or so zombies, a make-up artist to turn you INTO a zombie, and a few horror flicks amidst the movie posters. Plus, the biggest horror nerd at Bader Field, aka Mr. Kirk Hammett, was in for a bit of horror chat too (when he wasn’t surfing with Rob) which of course those of you who were there know and reveled in and those of you who weren’t will know, once again, that...well...shoulda been there! Because you know what? All the members of Metallica were, repeatedly, from noon ‘til 11 both days, partaking, engaging and enjoying a vibe and concept that felt even better than I think even they expected...
AND the music...yes, there were over 30 bands that I wanted to see but couldn’t get to, over 30 bands of a range and diversity that beforehand (frankly) seemed to terrify the shit out of prospective observers and participants with regards to fit and form and style and genre and ‘will they be booed off?’ and ‘what if it doesn’t work?’ and ‘you can’t really do that if you’re a metal band ‘cos the kids won’t diggit!’
Well guess what? The kids dug it. They dug going from Landmine Marathon to The Arctic Monkeys. They dug going from Ghost to Eric Church. And they dug going from The Soul Rebels Brass Band to Sepultura, because there was absolutely nothing forced about any of it. Catch a sound that’s interesting? Go to it. See a band that looks cool? Go watch ‘em. Don’t actually give a shit and wanna do something else? Well, on you go and have at it then! No pressure but every opportunity to experience a broad musical palette if you wanted. It was very similar to festivals like Glastonbury, where bands like Queens of The Stone Age shared bills with Air, or Reading where bands like, err, Metallica shared the event with groups such as Pulp. Yeah, that sort of vibe, the one when it was about what you could listen to not what you couldn’t...of course, you’d know that if you were present. And if you weren’t? Well, you shoulda been there...
See, I just wrote all that yet I know that regardless of all the fine words, I haven’t captured the fucking vibe nearly as well as it actually was!!! Because you DID have to be there.
I haven’t even mentioned the Met Club tent, the coolest clubbers hang-out you could imagine, the comedy tent, bristling with that Master of Comedic Ceremonies Jim Breuer offering some heavy light relief, or the Orion marketplace who’s name I forget because I didn’t get to spend nearly as much time there as I wanted, where you could do what we ALL love to do at festivals and buy trinketry, t-shirts and souvenirs from the old days.
And did I mention things like water being $3 bucks for a bottle but then free via refilling stations? Did I mention the concept of not over-filling the area so as every inch was covered with heaving sweaty humanity (when ‘Tallica was on that normal service was resumed)? And did I mention the concept of a security team designed NOT to hassle people every 20 yards, to move them on, to bark at them about what they couldn’t do, to bum their trip out repeatedly minute after minute, hour after hour. You, err, really shoulda been there, because I have never quite experienced any festival weekend that felt so inclusive, comfortable and cool.
Lars just said “DON’T MAKE IT SOUND LIKE AN ADVERT!”
Well, oi! Listen! In that case, next time you decide to do your own festival, don’t fucking well do so much cool shit, don’t show up at your lifestyle areas so much and don’t make it such a great weekend hang. Then maybe we can write the story about a “normal festival,” you know, one where the toilets are overflowing with piss, the crowd is absolutely hammered because there’s nothing much to do between bands other than drink too much and where the closest you get to gauging the band’s spirit is seeing if they’ve broken a sweat during the fucking encore! The truth is Lars, how the fuck can it NOT sound like one? Because I was there. And this one’s for all the people that weren’t because they-don’t-know-what-they-missed and-they-shoulda-been-there!
And truth be told? I hope I have the chance to embarrass you a little more next year, just as I hope the kids who DID miss it get a chance to “ORION” a weekend next year...given what a massive, open and enjoyable goddamn party it was, I’m going to wager that the chances are decent...
Monday June 25, 2012, on a plane home, tired but wired.