Orion Festival In Photos: The Bands, The Scene, And The "Potato Tornado"

Maura Johnston
This mural was painted over the course of the weekend on the outside of the Metallica Museum.
I spent the past two days at Atlantic City's Bader Field, which played host to the inaugural Orion Music + More Festival, a two-day "music, arts and lifestyle" bonanza put together by the thrash kings in Metallica. It was pretty great all around—James Hetfield kept referring to the bash as a "backyard party," and while things weren't that intimate, the way that the band left its stamp on all aspects of the festival (particularly the big-tent aspect of the musical lineup) gave it a charge of intimacy and care that was much more present than at other multi-band, multi-day extravaganzas I've attended in recent years. A detailed report will come later, but for now, please enjoy these pictures of various scenes from the past two days.

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James Hetfield And Kirk Hammett Look Back On Metallica's Black Album

Metallica circa the release of Metallica.
This weekend, Metallica will perform 1984's Ride the Lightning and 1991's Metallica during their Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City. In the spirit of reviving those albums, frontman James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett talked about select tracks from each album. Today, they look back on their band's breakthrough from 20 years ago.

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Q&A: Eric Church Talks Reaching Fans Outside Of Country, Metallica's Influence, And The Misinterpretation of "Homeboy"

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With Sinners Like Me and Carolina, Eric Church established himself as one of the most exciting young artists in the country music, mixing man-up rockers like "Lotta Boot Left to Fill" with mature, never-quite-melancholy reflections ("Those I've Loved," "What I Almost Was") on the different paths and people that open and close over the course of a lifetime. Last year's Chief, meanwhile, proved to be his breakout, leading to a tour and a spot at this weekend's Metallica-curated Orion Fest. In advance of that once-in-a-lifetime gig, the two of us talked over the phone about the music he heard growing up, his history of playing rock bars, and how it feels to be the only country act on the festival's bill.

Hey Eric, how's it going? I'm sure you're excited for this weekend.

Man, I'm excited and I'm not gonna lie to you, I'm a little bit nervous about it. I've been to Metallica shows, and I've seen that. Being from another genre, I think it's a crazy thing and a great thing that they're doing this. It says a lot about them, involving other genres like they are is one of the coolest things I've ever heard of. I'm just nervous to get out there and see what people think of us.

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James Hetfield And Kirk Hammett Look Back On Metallica's "Ride The Lightning"

This weekend, Metallica will perform 1984's Ride the Lightning and 1991's Metallica during their Orion Music + More Festival in Atlantic City. In the spirit of reviving those albums, frontman James Hetfield and lead guitarist Kirk Hammett agreed to look back on a few tracks from both. Here's some dirt on several of the tunes from Ride the Lightning.

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Metallica To Throw The Orion Music And More Festival In Atlantic City This Summer

Metallica has announced the first annual Orion Music & More Festival, which will take place in Atlantic City on June 23 and 24 and feature the band headlining both nights and playing the Black Album—you know, Bob Rock, commercial breakthrough, "Enter Sandman," etc.—in its entirety on U.S. soil for the first time. The lineup is more Lollapalooza than Big 4, with Titus Andronicus, Best Coast, Hot Snakes (yes!), and Arctic Monkeys on the bill; sadly, Lou Reed is not on the initial lineup, but we can always hope. Tickets are $125 for a two-day pass and $225 for its VIP iteration, which includes a better space in the general-admission crowd and access to an "exclusive lounge." (Ooh, exclusive!) Full lineup so far below.

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Pazz & Jop 2011: Brad Nelson On Why Lou Reed And Metallica's Lulu Was 2011's Best Album

To supplement this year's Pazz & Jop launch, Sound of the City asked a few critics to expand on the reasonings behind their voting. Here, Brad Nelson talks about the much-discussed collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, Lulu, which topped his ballot and came in at No. 94 on the albums poll.

In the video we see the four members of Metallica, in autonomous cars, approaching a warehouse in the Bay Area, where (this is the only real narrative to take from the video) Lou Reed is waiting. Lou approaches nothing; he has always been there, in front of a microphone, phasing out of shape. There is not much light but the few spotlights amplify beyond their scope, drawing implications into the face of Lars Ulrich, whose mouth diagonally frames his teeth, always, and the whole skull of James Hetfield, newly dynamic with mohawk. Kirk Hammett's guitar looks changed in the light, full of grain. They play. They play a lumbering riff, it seems pulled from a subspace. Gravity acts gently there, woozily. Lou speaks, barks, commanding something from afar. They all start to phase, faces play upon faces. Their images shake into each other, confuse features. They are completely fused in spirit. Lou rubs his eyes. Rob Truijillo tosses his long, weighty hair into glossy octagons of light.

This is the Darren Aronofsky-directed video for "The View," the ostensible single from the recorded exchange between Lou Reed and Metallica called Lulu. People treated Lulu supernaturally when news of it first appeared; when it was released it was the absurd, unapproachable record of the year, roundly panned, roundly existentially questioned. In the Quietus, Julian Marszalek wrote, "We have but a short period on this earth." It could not sustain Lulu, the indulgence of five men who had advanced into a totally sealed-off sphere. How much of what they did was metal? How much of it followed the track of the Velvet Underground, into an unforming rock? Most declared neither, that Lulu sounded as if two incomplete records had grafted intemperately to each other. I don't even totally have the words to process it now, even as it tops my Pazz and Jop ballot.

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Underwhelmed And Overstimulated, Part IV: The Joys Of Nicola Roberts And The Problem With Odd Future

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Nicola Roberts, having herself a lucky day with the Village Voice.
Sound of the City's year-end roundtable, with contributions from Tom Ewing, Eric Harvey, Maura Johnston, Nick Murray, and Katherine St. Asaph, continues. Follow along here.

Hey all. Again, thanks to Maura for putting this together, and thanks to Katherine for not only writing another outstanding recap of 2011 but also handing off to me no less topics than Bon Iver, PBR&B, K-Pop, all hip-hop, the cloud, and trollgaze. Where should I start?

Not with trollgaze, but we'll get there, for better or for worse. How about Nicola Roberts? I completely agree with you on that record, Tom, and I know from conversation that Maura and Katherine do too. (Eric?) I'd imagine that my experience with it was pretty common: Blown away by the singles, and by the fact that Cinderella's Eyes was almost a Girls Aloud album, it took me a while to allow it to develop into much more than that. I still enjoyed it plenty—amid the worst year for music ever, how could you not?—but not as much as I did once I started paying closer attention to its latter half.

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Lou Reed And Metallica And Darren Aronofsky Make A Video

Last month lots of ink and pixels were spent on Lulu, the collaboration between downtown bard Lou Reed and thrash lifers Metallica—"worst album of the year or maybe ever" declarations; "you just don't understand what Lou is trying to do" cries from partisans/people suspicious of the unwashed's lack of knowledge about the Frank Wedekind plays the album was based on; head-scratching so fervent it resulted in bleeding. But for all that hue and cry and Internet arguing, the thing didn't make much of a dent sales-wise; it debuted on the Billboard 200 at No. 36, selling 13,000 copies in its first week, and then nosedived off the chart in week two. Blame the leak, which came a couple of weeks before the album's bow in stores, or blame the bad buzz, or blame the economy—but don't blame a weak promotional campaign: Despite the soft launch, a video by a big-name director—Requiem For A Dream/Black Swan helmsman Darren Aronofsky—debuted over the weekend. It's for the 3:45 single edit (work with me here; the full track's 5:18!) of "The View," and it starts off as your pretty standard black-and-white "guys rehearsing" clip (complete with people getting out of their cars), then gets hazier as the murk of metal and back-and-forth shouts by Reed and Metallica frontman James Hetfield intensifies. And of course, it ends with Reed being thrilled by the brilliance that has just ensued. Clip below.

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Lulu: Lou Reed, Metallica, And The Sound Of Comment Sections Howling In Protest

The ever-evolving microgenre of "trollgaze" isn't just limited to whippersnapper up-and-comers. Today we look at one of this week's most chattered-about albums, the Metallica/Lou Reed collaboration Lulu, to try and deduce one thing: Can a 90-minute double album based off German Expressionist theater and performed by a bunch of dudes who decided they really, really liked each other after jamming in honor of the Rock & Roll Hall Of Fame actually be an Internet con? Sound of the City's highly mathematical analysis, below.

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Regurgitating Prisms, Deepening Curtsies: Which Lyrics Are Really From Lulu?

Compiled by Matt Ealer, Josh Gallaway, and Brad Nelson

Anton Corbijin
Lulu, the unearthly result of a collaboration between Lou Reed and Metallica, is composed of slow, meditative, minimal riffs and sometimes snaking, ambient horror over which Reed, in a sort of drained yet bold drawl—as if working around the idea of the music—articulates graphic, surreal and vaporous images of Lulu (of the Frank Wedekind plays Earth Spirit and Pandora's Box) and her worshipers. A triumph of lazy spiral-bound nihilism, the style is relatively easy to inhabit (brazenly sexual, casually racist, occasionally disregarding how words work), and so we've assembled several fake rhymes and strewn them about real live lyrics from this impossible record. Can you tell the difference?

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