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Metallica hopes Detroit will be a long-term "home" for Orion festiival
DETROIT -- What led Metallica to bring its Orion Music + More festival to Detroit's Belle Isle this year?
"You guys needed your grass cut on this island," frontman James Hetfield quipped at a press conference on Thursday, June 6, as nearby workers constructed stages, tents and other structures for the event, which takes place Saturday and Sunday, June 8-9. Bassist Robert Trujillo added, "That`s why James and I came here early. See how nicely groomed the ground is?"
All kidding aside, the Metallica members made clear their commitment to Belle Isle and Detroit not only for the coming weekend but also for the foreseeable future. The group -- which staged its first Orion festival last year in Atlantic City -- has signed a three-year deal with the city of Detroit, and Hetfield and Trujillo sounded like they're hoping for an even longer relationship.
"We're trying to find a home for Orion, and hopefully this will be the one," Hetfield says. "We're testing it out, and this site is amazing. It's beautiful. We love it here."
Trujillo added that the city's musical history makes it an appropriate place to stage the festival.
"There's so much history here. It's rich," he said. "Me as a bass player, some of my favorite bass lines on the planet come out of this city, come out of Motown. There's a history and lineage going back to rock 'n' roll in general and punk and it's all here, rising and coming back to the surface, the way it should. It's great to be here."
Metallica and Austin-based C3 presents expect 40,000 fans -- who will be shuttled to Belle Isle from Cobo Center -- to attend Orion over the two days, where 39 bands and DJs will play on five stages. Hetfield is curating a car and motorcycle show during the festival, while Trujillo will supervise an extreme skateboarding area. Drummer Lars Ulrich will host the Hit The Lights film tent, while guitarist Kirk Hammett will display his collection of horror memorabilia in Kirk's Crypt.
"It's a win-win for everybody," said Phil Cooley of Detroit's Slow's Barbeque, who's curating the food for Orion. "This is an incredible opportunity for small businesses like ourselves to hotels like the Westin and Book Cadillac...It fills our restaurant.s It's another reason to keep the (Detroit) momentum going."
Orion is also a welcome opportunity for Battlecross, the Canton-based heavy metal band that will release its second national album, "War of Will," on July 9 and performs at the festival on Sunday afternoon.
"To get to be part of something this big that waves the flag for Detroit is awesome, so we're very honored to do that," said frontman Kyle "Gumby" Gunter. "This festival is awesome for the local music community...It helps our local bands get a little bit of help getting to national status."
Metallica's Hetfield says he's hoping that Orion will help "not only bands playing this festival but around other clubs. (Fans) will be able to get in and there'll be a buzz around the bands and music in general. Representing local foods and getting local economies kind of going is part of the goal. At the end of the day it's not about us making money at all; it's really about creating some kind of market history.
"And after, who knows, eight, 10 years, if this thing starts breaking even then that will put a little more of a smile on our face."
Tickets for Orion are $90 per day, $150 for a two-day pass and $750 for VIP packages. Visit www.orionmusicandmore.com for schedules, afterparties and other information.
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