Summer Festival Gradecard: Orion Festival, Day 2

After a few drinks at the Detroit Brewing company (their Detroit Dwarf really hit the spot) and a pleasant stay in a Romulus-area hotel (literally every hotel in downtown detroit was booked solid.) our editorial team returned to Belle Isle for our second round of Orion Festival. The journey on to Belle Isle went much more smoothly the second time around—evidently the complaints about day one's bus situation came through loud and clear. The second day seemed less populous at first, and more relaxed, but by the end, wound up being probably twice the party day one was.

The Bad:

°All Shall Perish's sound
All shall Perish are a modern technical-and-hardcore-style death metal band from the bay area of California, the same neck of the woods that Metallica hailed from. While i'm not personally a fan of their music, I admire their political lyrics and technical acumen, and I hoped their live show would win me over. That didn't happen, mostly because their set sounded like incomprehensible mush. Bass frequencies drowned out everything. This is no fault of All shall Perish's, but it's still unforgivable. Literally, the only place on Belle Isle where the mix sounded palatable was in a port-a-potty.

°Unnecessary reunions
Day 2 filled out its running time with some of the finest rock bands from the mid to early nineties, including punk/rockabilly-with-horns animals Rocket from the Crypt, and Vista Chino, who are formerly members of Kyuss (Kyuss' lead guitarist/songwriter, Josh Homme, left to form Queens of the Stone Age). Perhaps those bands should have stayed in the nineties. Both bands' sets felt subdued—not what you want from hard rock elder statesmen.

The Worst:

°The Joy Formidable's last-minute cancellation
British Rockers The Joy Formidable were slated for a mid afternoon set on the huge Orion stage, in front of a large, situated crowd. The band wound up canceling at the last minute due to travel difficulties—word had it the band hadn't even made it to Detroit Airport. When they were supposed to start setting up. As a result, fans who could have gotten great positions to see many of the other, excellent bands that day did not.

The Good:

°Metallica's museum exhibits.
The resolved bus situation let us take a leisurely stroll around Belle Isle before the bands started, and spent a good deal of time observing a series of exhibits curated by each individual member of Metallica, exploring their non-musical interested. Of particular note, James Hetfield's vintage car show appealed to my inner Top Gear fanboy, while Kirk Hammet's collection of horror-film memorabilia took us face-to-face with super-rare props, such as the monster from It Conquered the World!, And Hammet's series of guitars decorated with Universal Horror film posters. They even had to shut the place down early so he could use a guitar themed like Boris Karloff's The Mummy onstage.

°Metallica's deep-cut set
Gulls circled overhead like vultures as the sun set through a cloud of gravel dust, giving our star a fiery halo, and Metallica took the stage to their longstanding intro, Ennio Morricone's “The Ecstasy of Gold.” In other words, it felt like the apocalypse even before Metallica exploded into “Blackened,” with its merciless chug and prophecies of doom and gloom. The boys played for two hours at a near-constant climax, ripping through most of their watershed album Master of Puppets, and incredibly deep cuts: the ten-mintue death march of “Disposable Heroes,” the sleazy croon of “Carpe Diem Baby,” and even “I Disappear,” the song they penned for the Mission Impossible:II  soundtrack. For their final Motor City encore, the four horsemen played their rendition of Bob Seger's “Turn the Page,” and then brought four kids from the make-a-wish foundation onstage to help drum for “Seek and Destroy.”  consummate professionals always, Metallica closed their own festival out with a once-in-a-lfietime set catered to their diehard fans.

The Best:

The Dillinger Escape Plan's bizarre psychodrama.
But the best show of the weekend award went not to Metallica, nor to Gogol Bordello (who put in an incredible set) but to pop-math-hardcore mavericks The Dillinger Escape Plan.

Long rumored to write music by rolling dice, or through other bizarre methods, The Dillinger Escape plan are famous for making some of the most complex and abrasive guitar music in the world, and for putting on often death-defying live shows. Every member of the band has broken a major bone in his body.

So it was only a slight surprise when Ben Wineman, lead guitarist and songwriter, took the stage with his right arm in a cast, sitting on a comfy dormitory chair while the remaining four members of the band played songs from their (excellent) new album One of Us is the Killer without him. In between songs Wineman would critique his bandmates, harshly, even though they played their keisters off.

At this point in time it's worth noting that Wineman's rivalry with DEP vocalist Greg Puciato is a major theme in the band's history. The two got into a short, but public, twitter war late last year. Their ideologies don't exactly mesh: Wineman is a straight-edge Bostonite, while Puciato is public about his love of hallucinogens, lives in california, and dates pornogrpahic actresses. In an interview with Decibel magazine, Puciato admitted that much of the new record is about his feud with Wineman.

Which is why Wineman's injury may have fueled Puciato to give the performance his all. In a feudian turn, DEP felt like the striving children yearning for their father's approval, and in so doing absolutely decimated the audience. By the end, both Puciato and Wineman had taken turns surfing into the crowd, the aforementioned easy chair had been ripped to shreds and of course, a-la Kieth Moon, the drum set was completely trashed.

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what rock and roll should be: psychotic, dangerous, and fun.