Metal fans are the nicest fans in the world. With a dedicated fan base that loses their shit when someone on stage even utters the name Eddie Trunk, it was almost as if the crowd at the inaugural Orion Music + More Festival were looking forward to an East coast metal festival to blow Mayhem and Warped out of the water. Different generations of fans littered the audience, from the parents who brought their kids to the show to the teens who made a quick stop at Hot Topic to pick up their first Metallica shirt before the festival.
“I think you’re the only band wearing all white,” I said to Titus Andronicus drummer, Eric Harm. He looked over at his bandmates, “Oh shit, we are. Oh well!” Orion might have been the only festival with a de facto dress code that wasn’t hipster chic, and strived to soak up as much heat as possible. But, this was just one thing that made this festival feel like an escape from the ones we have already. With a lineup that you can’t find anywhere else, and an audience that might not be seen at your Bonnaroos or Coachellas, Orion effectively opened the door for future festivals of different ilk.
It was immaculately organized, with stages only minutes apart from each other and yet little to no sound bleed. The sight lines were great, and the bathroom lines were short. Outside of music, there were exhibits like Kirk’s Crypt, with a collection of people in complete zombie garb and props from famous horror movies, while James Hetfield brought in muscle cars and vintage bikes to bolster the aesthetic of the festival. Perhaps Atlantic City doesn’t have the prettiest, or any, skyline but it did provide for breezy weather and nice late-night options for attendees.
Some people exhibited a mentality of “If it ain’t metal, it ain’t good,” scorning fans at the festival for anything other than Metallica. Thankfully, most people were the metal fans that I know well, picking up someone when they fall in the pit and asking if they’re okay. They were the kind of audience open to new musical opportunities, visibly becoming fans of the acts in front of them. At Orion, you could walk from a mosh pit to Best Coast, or from a female vocalist with a growl to, well, Best Coast. Over the weekend, I lost my voice trying to speak or sing over more decibels than I’ve ever been exposed to and capped off each night with a Metallica performance. While some may have been off gambling in Atlantic City, Orion was the only sure bet in town.