Metallica's Orion Festival Offers Accessibility, Rock History in Detroit Move
Promoter C3 Presents hopes the move will lead to a more affordable, "gorgeous" festival as the event returns in June.
Accessibility and affordability were key factors that led to a location change for Metallica's second Orion Music + More festival.
Though last year's inaugural event at Bader Field in Atlantic City, which drew 50,000 over two days, was deemed a success, Charlie Walker of Austin, Texas-based C3 Presents tells Billboard that there were shortcomings that resulted in the shift to Detroit's Belle Isle on June 8-9.
"We've always had Belle Isle on the list; we just never had quite the right show to go there," Walker explains. "We thought the [Orion] concept had [proven] itself, and Detroit, with that rich musical history plus a great rock history and the fact that there's this gorgeous island in the middle of the river, it seemed like a good place to go."
Walker says C3 and Metallica -- which announced the Orion lineup, co-headlined by the Red Hot Chili Peppers, on Monday -- expect Detroit, served by its own airport as well as by those nearby in Flint, Toledo and Windsor, Ontario, will be somewhat easier to get to for those traveling, an estimated half of the 40,000 hoped-for each day, and more affordable once they get there.
"In Atlantic City, because of the sheer number of casinos, it was difficult for us to get affordable hotel rooms for the audience," Walker says. "We found they were much higher than we wanted our customers to have to pay. Because of the fact Atlantic City is based on tourism, they were able to get those high summer rates. When we were looking for a new home, we wanted to get a little better range of hotel options for our customers."
Another major change for this year's Orion will see Metallica playing just one of the days, closing the festival on June 9, rather than both as it did in Atlantic City.
"The Metallica guys are really quite busy through the weekend, we found, with their own things, and all the side projects going on," Walker says, referring to James Hetfield's Custom Car & Motorcycle Show, Kirk Hammett's Crypt, Lars Ulrich's Hit the Lights Film Tent and Robert Trujillo's Vans Vert Ramp. "It was a little much for them to play both nights and do all the other stuff they're involved in during the festival. It was a great opportunity to put another big headliner on and, we think, make it even more special."
C3 has used the Chili Peppers at its other festivals, including Lollapalooza, Austin City Limits and Big Day Out in Australia, and Walker says, "They were kind of a no-brainer for us. They can hold their own with Metallica but have a slightly different audience than Metallica, which plays to the variety that's part of the festival. Walker says the Metallica members were "active and vocal" in helping determine the rest of the Orion lineup, which now stands at 31 bands on five stages and will probably grow a bit more before June. There will also be a variety of club shows and after-parties following Orion's 10 p.m. shutdown each night, but those are still in the process of being determined.
Tickets are currently on sale to Metallica's Met Club members, with those on the festival's E-list getting a crack starting Wednesday. General public tickets go on sale March 1 for $150; single day tickets were sold for last year's Orion, but Walker says no determination will be made about this year's event until about a month before the festival. More information and updates are available at www.orionmusicandmore.com.