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Metallica says Orion's coming back; Producer's not so sure
DETROIT -- The members of Metallica say their Orion Music + More festival is coming back to Detroit in 2014 -- "definitely," according to bassist Robert Trujillo.
The event's producer isn't quite as certain, however.
"I don't know if we'll be back or not," Charlie Walker of C3 Presents, the Austin-based promotion firm that produces Orion and has a flexible three-year agreement with the city of Detroit, said on Sunday morning, June 9. "I think we'll go through this one, wrap it up, see what the feedback is. I think we'll look at the attendance and what the actual, final expense budget comes in at, which is sometimes a little different than what it's supposed to be.
"Then we'll sit down and try to get a grip on what to do next."
Walker said Orion drew about 20,000 fans to Belle Isle on Saturday, June 8, about the same as the inaugural Orion's first day last year in Atlantic City. There appeared to be even more at the festival on Sunday, when Metallica closed Orion with its scheduled set -- having played a surprise performance of its 1983 debut album, "Kill 'em All," on Saturday.
Operations throughout the weekend seemed to run smoothly -- the most glaring exception being long lines for ticket sales and pick-up at the Cobo Center, which organizers apologized for via Twitter on Saturday and corrected on Sunday by adding more stations. The shuttle bus system from Cobo to Belle Isle also worked well; Walker says it took about 65 minutes to clear the island after Saturday's show, while a steady egress during Metallica's set on Sunday helped alleviate the lines leaving the island that night.
Some residents of Windsor, however, did complain about the noise coming from the island -- particularly from the Sanitarium electronic music tent.
"The first year on a new site, it takes awhile," Walker notes. "Sometimes what works on paper doesn't always work in reality. So we made some adjustments. It's a version 1.0 learning curve any time you're in a new situation like this."
But, he added, "The site's awesome. It's laid out really well. The (Detroit Parks and Recreation Department) did such a good job getting the site ready for us. They've been fantastic. We were thrilled with the way it laid out, and I think people are amazed at how awesome the lace is when they get over here."
Metallica's members were equally effusive on Sunday. Starting a performance with his Trujillo Trio, the bassist promised the crowd that Orion would indeed be coming back, and during a golf cart ride back to his trailer Trujillo added that, "You can tell Belle Isle is the perfect location for an event like this. This is such a great city and it has such a rich (music) history. I'm really glad we're here...We'll be back."
Frontman James Hetfield intimated the same during a couple points during Metallica's show on Sunday. He spoke of a seemingly certain future when he promised," you gotta know the first year there's going to be some crew-ups. So next year, hopefully, it'll be even better." And at the end of the concert he asked the crowd, "You think we should come back next year?" to a clearly affirmative response. "As long as you promise you'll be back too -- and bring some friends!" Hetfield added.
At a press conference on Thursday, June 6, Hetfield noted that Metallica's main goal right now with Orion is to "see some smiles. We're not expecting this thing to break even for awhile, really. It's a long term investment. It's not about us making money at all; it's really about creating some kind of market history, and after eight, 10 years, if this thing starts breaking even then that will put a little more of as mile on our face and it won't be as much of a personal investment."
Trujillo seconded that "realistically it's going to take awhile before this Orion machine really kicks into gear. We're actually losing money on this, but we'd like to create an event that can help old and new creative people, different types of bands, different styles of music and really try to create one big barbecue, so to speak, for a big party. We do our best."
C3 and Metallica will evaluate this year's Orion festival and discuss next year's even in the coming weeks, Walker said. But some of this year's media partners said C3's marketing wing had already spoken with them about hammering out deals for next year, possibly before the end of the summer.
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