DETROIT – Metallica’s Orion Music + More changed Erick Munoz’s life last year.
So of course he was on Belle Isle Saturday for this year’s edition of the two-day festival, after driving 14 hours overnight from his home in Chapel Hill, N.C.
“They’re my favorite band. I’d go wherever. It’s totally worth it,” he said on Saturday, June 8, while looking at band artifacts in the Metallica Museum near the Orion entrance.
Munoz, 24 – who saw Metallica for the first time at last year’s inaugural Orion in Atlantic City and slapped hands with frontman James Hetfield – was among the thousands enjoying Orion’s mix of musical styles and lifestyle attractions, all under partly sunny skies and mild temperatures. If they weren’t headbanging in front of one of Orion’s five stages, fans were checking out the car and motorcycle show curated by Hetfield – whose 140 vehicles were mostly from Michigan collectors – guitarist Kirk Hammett’s display of horror memorabilia,and drummer Lars Ulrich’s film tent.
Or they were getting up close and personal with Metallica’s members, who made pop-up appearances around the Orion grounds on the Belle Isle athletic fields. They four introduced the other acts, while Hetfield rolled by the car show to press a little flesh.
And Metallica blew an early roof off the festival with a surprise performance of its 1983 debut album, “Kill ‘em All,” on the Damage Inc. stage.
Metallica and Orion organizers C3 productions of Austin, Texas, have predicted a total attendance of 40,000 over Orion’s two days, with fans coming from all over the U.S. and around the world. Agata Krzywania, 28, came from Poland with five friends, brandishing a red-and-white banner declaring, “James, Wanna meet you at Orion.” All belong to the Polish chapter of Metallica’s official fan club and were ready to spend a weekend immersing in the group’s culture.
“This festival is very unusual and special,” said Krzywania, who also attended last year’s Orion. “There’s so much activity. It’s really something incredible.”
It was a family outing for Greg Arntz of Mount Troy, Pa., and sons Collin, 10, and Cameron, 13. “It’s between rock ‘n’ roll and the country the wife likes,” Arntz, 46, said while the trio eyeballed cars. “I have to bring ‘em up right, y’know.”
Darci and Nathan Gundvaldson of Brookings, S.D., enjoyed last year’s Orion so much that they brought her sister with them to Detroit, as well as their nine and seven year old daughters. “I think it’s really great they brought it back for a second year,” Darci Gundvaldson said, “and it was such a great experience we thought it would be great for the whole family.”
Nathan Gundvaldson also praised the Detroit Orion’s logistics, including shuttle bus transportation to and from the island, saying they seemed “more organized” than in Atlantic City.
Kathleen McCarthy, a Detroit native who now resides in Indiana and a friend of the Dirtbombs’ Mick Collins – whose band performs Sunday -- came home to “support” the idea of using Belle Isle for a music festival. “I like that they have other things besides the music,” she noted. “The cars mean a lot to me. I’m from Detroit, after all.”
Orion also meant quite a bit to Canton-based Battlecross, which launched its second album with a charged, hour-long set on the Frantic stage. The quintet, introduced by Metallica’s Hetfield and Trujillo, played several new songs from its new album, “War of Will,” while frontman Kyle “Gumby” Gunther told the crowd that “it’s really an honor to be here. We’ve played every s*** local venue this state has to offer. Local bands – keep trying.”
Tickets are still available for Sunday at Orion, priced $95. Visit www.orionmusicmore.com for details.
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