ZS: To be honest, I was a little nervous after seeing Metallica’s Ride The Lightning set the night before. Then I became even more nervous when Metallica opened their second night with the same two songs as the night before (“Hit The Lights” and “Master Of Puppets”). So when they went into “Fuel,” I was relieved knowing that they WEREN’T playing basically the same set list (side note: the fact that we were extremely happy to hear ANY song off of Reload, even a great song like “Fuel,” should highlight how disappointing day one’s set list was). And when Metallica went into “The Shortest Straw,” I was not only pleased that the set list was changed a little, but also amazed at how amazing and tight they sounded (aka the exact opposite of how “Call To Ktulu” sounded the night before).
But Metallica still had The Black Album to play in its entirety. While one could argue that they’ve had a whole European tour to nail it, Metallica nonetheless sounded top notch. Furthermore, the performance for me personally reminded me how awesome The Black Album actually is. Maybe it’s because it’s been overplayed so much that I forgot how kick ass songs like “Holier Then Thou” and “My Friend Of Misery” are. And even though they’ve become staples and (like the album) been overplayed EVERYWHERE, I personally can never get tired of hearing Metallica perform “Enter Sandman” and “Nothing Else Matters.” Hell, let’s face it, it’s because of those two songs and that specific album I and thousands of others were standing in an abandoned airport in Atlantic City.
KM: There’s a reason I didn’t weigh in on Metallica Night 1: I was too disappointed to attempt to mark it with words. They looked like an aging band going through the motions, not the glorious space-thrash monsters they once were. In short, it was emblematic of every complaint people have had about them over recent years: self-indulgent, by-the-numbers, devoid of soul and feeling. If it had been any more obvious, Lou Reed and The Table would have been special guests.
But that’s the thing about Metallica: even when they stink up the joint, it’s a tougher grade because you know the beast that’s sleeping. Tonight, it woke up, gnashing its teeth and tearing away at everyone as the band roared into “Fuel.” It might not have been as good or as comprehensive as their world-destroying Big 4 set – and how do you play “Orion” there but not here? – but this set was extremely well-sequenced, and heavier on old material than Night 1 had been. Plus, there is no arguing with “Holier Than Thou” or a rare rendition of “The Shortest Straw.”
BT: After hearing the same two opening songs as last night begin, I got anxious that Metallica were phoning it in. That went away by the time they played …And Justice For All‘s “The Shortest Straw.” The Black Album has become shorthand for rock over the last 21 years, but it wasn’t diminished by hearing it played backwards. Unlike my compatriots, I didn’t think that Metallica was that bad on Saturday, but they were on fire today.
As ridiculous as this sounds, there’s more than one parallel to be drawn between Metallica and Insane Clown Posse. More often than once, Hetfield called the Metallica fans “family,” which is a rallying cry for ICP fans. And like ICP, Metallica now have a successful multi-day festival to call their own. However, this isn’t something that people have to feel ashamed about. It seemed to me like a lot of people left with newfound appreciation for at least one band. And I never thought that I’d be using the word “civilized” to sum up a festival, but it completely applied to the first Orion fest. Metallica referred repeatedly to it as the “first annual” fest throughout the weekend. Lars said in a video message that the band would be deciding whether they would be doing the festival again in the next several weeks. Hopefully they decide to do it again, as this is the gold standard that I’ll be judging other fests by.
By The Numbers:
Songs played by Metallica that their festival is named after: 0 (really guys?)
Songs played by Metallica that their stages were named after: 1 (“Fuel” – thankfully not “Frantic”)
# of Metallica songs covered by other bands: 1 (Soul Rebels covered “Enter Sandman”)
# of Metallica shirts: way too many to count
# of Eric Church shirts noticed on way to festival: 1
# of Styx shirts noticed at festival
# of artists sponsored by Bud Light, with an onstage banner saying as much: 1 (Eric Church)
# of Avenged Sevenfold tattoos on women, including one awful tramp stamp: 2 (that we noticed)
# of drunk women walking around with a male inflatable blow-up doll: 1
# of attendees per day, as estimated by police: 35,000 – 50,000
# of attendees on Saturday, according to someone at the gate: 21,000 [source]