Orion Music + More – Day Two Recap Orion Music + More – Day Two Recap

Words and Photos by Charles

I wake up in my socks after eleven and a half hours of blissfully dreamless sleep, still clutching my phone, cocooned in endless layers of cheap polyester sheets.

The AC is sputtering.

I feel fucking great.

This is the first Sunday in a long, long while that I didn’t wake up with a distinct sense of dread, the shakes or any semblance of Catholic (inchoate, inexplicable, inescapable and which I will totally [for the purposes of this article] blame on one bastard nun named Sister Maureen who once called my parents in for an emergency meeting because I used a purple crayon to color a cow. “Cows aren’t purple, is the problem? Can you explain this?!” HISSSSS!!!) regret.

I don’t even seem to be bothered by the fact that I am a man without his coffee.

I mean, fuck it, right?

METALLICA!

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I walk a while, find a cup and head over to the festival to catch A Place to Bury Strangers and Liturgy who are playing dueling sets in some errant intellectual post-all battle of the not-meant-for-daytime bands (assuming, of course, they’re even dimly aware of each other’s existence) which, when listened to from a very particular area in front of a beat bronzed motorcycle outside the Hetfield Ultimate Bitchin’ Ride and Hog Off (Ed. Note: Orion Custom Car + Motorcycle Show) makes a truly inspired cacophony well worthy of a chunk of Zorn’s MacArthur cash.

So pay up, Johnny.

“It actually kind of makes sense here, huh?” I say to some lady stuck with her boyfriend’s bags.

“Yeah, I guess.”

“Do you like these bands?”

“I don’t know. They’re really fucking loud though.”

She points sheepishly at the Fuel Stage where A Place to Bury Strangers is playing.

“Yeah, they are. I’ve seen them a bunch of time. You should do yourself a favor and get right up front. It’ll blow your fucking teeth out.”

She does.

I head over to Liturgy who are playing Frantic, the only stage that comes with a tent.

Have I mentioned that?

It’s true.

Anyway, I know there are a shit ton of people who hate on Liturgy for that goddamn Black Metal symposium where Hunter Hunt-Hendrix (that is a fake name, right? Ironic WASP?) went on about the Haptic Void or some such nonsense. I don’t know. To be honest, I never managed to make it past the solipsistic polysyllabisms but that’s less his fault than the Ouroboros of art culture intellectualization that fucking ruins every aesthetic and will one day disappear into it’s own well-lubricated asshole and leave us all to appreciate trees for being trees or whatever.

Fuck art, let’s rock.

But Liturgy aren’t rock.

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I’m not really sure just what they do but their sound is vaguely comparable to hearing a distant pterodactyl wail her mournings for Juliet as if the Capulets were Commodore 64s and Romeo was a Japanese fuck hammer and their whole transcendental tragedy could only be conveyed by an aged catamite and his curly blonde friend who both play their guitars with an almost shocking listlessness that earns them the thinnest audience I will see all weekend.

All right, it’s probably not the guitars. It’s probably everything.

A Place to Bury Strangers, on the other hand, are outstanding.

I was, admittedly, a little apprehensive about seeing them as their narcotic David J sets fire to the Jesus and Mary Chain back when their were thin and bitter and riots ensued brand of sonic violence is something tailored for the evening. Every time I’ve seen them has been under the light of a damaged art film screening and some very well formulated strobes.

But they, deliver, man. Ripping the shit out of the open air, defying the sun to come and stop them from being the loudest goddamn band at the festival. Guitars and basses as smashed, choked, tossed. Drums choke and bellow. At one point, just to really drive home the point that what they do is maximum volume, Singer/Guitarist Oliver Ackerman turns his PAs towards the audience and points his Mic stand at the amp.

I see my new lady friend stumbling away, hands pressed tight to her ears mouthing “Wow.” I can’t say as I blame her.

The sound is blistering.

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There are a lot of people in Avenged Sevenfold shirts. Some are in kilts. I count dozens before I start wondering just who this fucking band is and what, exactly, they’re telling me with shirts assuring “It’s Your Fucking Nightmare.”

Are they really that fucking bad?

I mean, I had a dream once where I skinned my family in a small mountain town and then paraded around with their heads begging kindly, horrified strangers, to “JUST FUCKING END ME!”

So, like that?

A malt drunk kid and his friend explain for the price of a cigarette.

“They’re like, you know, Metallica…only kind of pussies…or for pussies…so like, nu metal posers or something, you know…like new Metallica, I guess…only heavy, kinda…shit. We just really wanted to see Arctic Monkeys. Dude, they fucking RULE!”

So, no?

Lying ass liars.

James Hetfield introduces Ghost on the Orion Stage. I can’t hear what he’s saying. It’s been two hours since that weak ass cup of coffee and the joys of not having a hangover are beginning to slip into shaky ennui. I need some fucking caffeine.

Ghost are…okay?

Actually, they might be great in a murkier setting with lights and doom and smoke but on an enormous stage at 2pm their theatrics seem rather hokey. They’re loud, sure and heavier than I anticipated for all that undead pope’s community theater belting but there’s something about the white druids in plastic plague masks who form the backing band that just drives me to reach for my Claritin.

I head over to the Black Angels, a band I’ve been trying to catch for fucking YEARS now, it seems (thanks Queens of the Stone Age…ya fuckin’ dicks) and am sorely disappointed.

It’s not that they’re bad at all.

It’s just that I’m sleepy. It’s just that it’s Sunday. It’s just that it’s slow, droning psychedelic hums and strums when I need something forceful and uppity and, again, if this were evening or if I smoked weed or…man, there have been a lot of bands recently that would just work so well on marijuana. That sucks. I fucking hate weed.

I want to punch a baby in the face.

I get myself a Red Bull instead.

They’re free in the Media Tent and totally ill-advised since there’s something about energy drinks that make me a little wonky. But a man’s gotta do, right? There’s loads more here to see and I’ve got to be chatty for my interview with A Place to Bury Strangers so I pound that shit like it’s my job.

Which, in a way, it is.

I go to see Landmine Marathon whose singer is a girl and, as my radio friends from yesterday informed me, “is really cute until she does that scream (because) she sounds like a dude (and) that’s not cute, dude.”

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She does not sound like a dude. She sounds like the Cookie Monster which is a vocal “style” that is particularly kind to and therefore favored by dudes who are eager to appear intimidating and/or evil but are afraid of damaging their vocal chords by actually screaming. It’s kind of pussy, really and certainly doesn’t require a dick. In fact, dick is so irrelevant to the Cookie Monster genre that from now on, every time I listen to Napalm Death, I’m going to picture Barney with a big old pair of fake tits. Yeah. I like that.

The band, itself, sound like their name is Landmine Marathon. There’s a circle pit.

She is kind of cute, though.

Gary Clark, Jr. is on the Fuel stage. He’s all aviators and electric blues soul swagger. There are a lot of people here to see him. That’s cool.

Actually, that’s really cool.

Today’s performances are considerably more eclectic than yesterday’s fare (which was varied but leaned heavily towards the fast, white and angry) and though I am not necessarily a fan of many of the acts on display I am happy to see that so many other people are and even if they weren’t when they first saw the first black artist of the weekend take the stage, they certainly are when they leave.

I spy, with my little eye more and more Avenged Sevenfold tees.

Jesus, these guys are popular.

I arrive in time to hear Soul Rebels play “Enter Sandman.” Genius. A big, brass New Orleans take on the track that took Metallica from venerated thrash road warriors to international monoliths of rock. It’s flawless.

Understanding, at once, that I have stumbled upon the apex of their set, I move on lest I fall into a trap of free funk suckage.

But where?

Perhaps they have snacks in the Media Tent.

BURRITOS!

Awesome!

Nothing says metal like a burrito.

I take beef. I chow down. In a blur of meat and antihistamines and Red Bull (and then a Bud or two to bring me down) I interview A Place to Bury Strangers. They are nice. They are charming. I talk too much. The drummer looks bored.

I assure myself I’m learning.

Is thirty-three too old to learn how not to be a blabbering fan boy ass who chokes up on his own ideas the second ANYTHING starts recording?

Tell me it’s not.

Please, please tell me.

I cross a field to get to Torche (whose knew album Harmonicraft is infinitely better than Meanderthal which I thoroughly enjoyed the fuck out of) and pass Best Coast en route.

“FUCK YOU, BETHANY!” I yell, flipping her and her fucking band off as hard as I fucking can.

I abhor them and their sunglass boredom.

Where’s that Black Angels baby?

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Torche are as awesome as they should be. Big metal major riffs. Simple, pleasant singing. I remain flabbergasted that one of these dudes used to be one of the sludging monsters behind Cavity who still uplift my day to day with their feedback instrumentation and swamp mist screams.

The crowd eats it up. Beer. Pits. Awesome.

This shit makes sense in the sun. It’s fun. It’s vibrant. It’s, dare I say, catchy. Almost accessible to a mainstream audience which is, I suppose, why they’ve teamed up with Volcom after years and years and years in the indie racket. Good for them. They deserve a little paid attention. Hydrahead will make it by on their back catalog and repackaging vinyl Isis live reissues.

I walk past Best Coast again to make sure that I still hate them.

I do.

Seriously, Best Coast…who the fuck do you think you are playing on Metallica’s stage like that? YOU HAVEN’T EARNED THE RIGHT! You’re just some fucking girl and that other dude and you totally ripped off the Vivian Girls who totally ripped off the Shop Assistants but then you thought “Oh, you know what I’ll do to distinguish myself? I’ll be sad. I’ll cover Beach Boys songs so that they sound like rusty tin and ass and self-satisfaction and I’ll release them via limited edition seven inches for the edification of kinda/sorta pretty girls, hopeless fan boys and that dude from Wavves who totally wants to do me! Now, that’s vogue!”

Ugh.

I enjoy a rage blackout for about an hour.

I think Jim Breuer was there.

I see straight in time for The Black Dahlia Murder’s call for a massive circle pit which, of course, they receive. The singer is chubbier and more shirtless than I would have imagined. He has a 9-5 haircut and a beer belly rocker that reads “HEARTBURN” which is about the punkest fucking thing I’ve seen in years. The band espouses a particular fervent brutality but the crowd is much less horrifying than I had been led to believe through the day’s murmurings (“Someone’s gonna die, dude.”). Yes, they are aggressive but I’ve seen more fights at Melvins gigs (at a ratio of three to zero) and there are plenty of cute young girls in flip flops getting all up over the melee where they are able to crowd surf, ungroped and into the massive arms of some very patient security.

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I think I hear Volbeat. What are they Danish?

Ed. Note: Yes.

I remember that I have drink tickets and head back to the Media Tent to collect.

The guy behind the bar kinda looks like my dad.

I order a Bud. He informs me there are only three left.

“Yeah, there were a bunch of them leftover from the Phish concert last weekend and for some reason no one thought to order more.”

“Oh, shit.”

“I know so you’d better drink them all fast before somebody else does.”

“What else you got?”

“Bud Light.”

“I’ll do it.”

I hang out with my dad’s doppleganger a while, slugging Buds and talking shit. He used to be something of a punk, he tells me. Saw the Clash once. Used to get all fucked up at CBGB’s but then he had a wife and kid and suddenly, Jersey which he assures me isn’t all that bad once you get used to it.

“But there’s nothing here that’ll ever be CB’s.”

He tells me that New Jersey – Atlantic City in particular – has a lot of history.

“For example, did you know Bader Field was the first recognized airport in the country?”

“I didn’t.”

“It’s true.”

Ed. Note: It is. According to Bader Field’s Wikipedia page, Bader Field was, in fact, the first place to be referred to as an “air-port” and received that distinction in a 1919 newspaper article by Robert Woodhouse.

He tells me I am not drinking quickly enough.

I apologize, meekly explaining that I’m still working.

He doesn’t buy it.

“It’s after five. You should be drinking. You should be getting ready for Metallica.”

“You’re right.”

One more and then I head over for Sepultura.

Goddamn, their new singer is huge.

Ed. Note: Charles’ continued reference to Sepultura’s current frontman, Derrick Green, is apocryphal, at best as he has been performing with the band since 1998.

HUGE!

I catch “Arise” (vintage thrash) and “Ratamahatta” (which is my favorite song to sing along to which I don’t know the words to at all, whatsoever). They close with “ROOOOOOOOTS! BLOODY ROOOOOOOOTS!!!!”

Yeah, buddy.

How goddamn long have I waited to hear this song? A decade? More? When I first heard it, I honestly believed that Sepultura were monsters. Brazilian Godzillas, caked in the blood of the innocent and trying their ungodliest to destroy the last loving synapse of my pathetic human brain.

Right now, I feel much the same though I really do miss Max’s scream.

Avenged Sevenfold has just taken the stage with flames.

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Apparently EVERYONE is here to see them.

Out of some sort of deep-seeded contrarianism, I decide my time would be better spent continuing my love them on their records/hate them fucking love relationship with Titus Andronicus because, at least, their fans wear pants.

And I’m glad I do.

Because this is the best I’ve ever seen them.

Raw, rough and bordering on the humorless, they make a sweaty mess of the stage. Perhaps it’s the appearance of new material that’s got them going. Perhaps its knowing that with so much of the crowd amassed before whatever the fuck an Avenged Sevenfold is, what audience they do have (which is entirely respectable) is there to be sufficiently rocked by the only New Jersey natives to take a stage this weekend.

Ed. Note: We didn’t check.

Whatever the reasoning, Titus fucking bring it. They skip on the flourish and horseshit that marks their flaws as live players and present us with their nut tight homage to early Springsteen, The Clash and drunk Modern Lovers as if all our lives depended on them playing as hard as fucking possible. New songs abound but they close with what seems to be an endless medley of the greatest triumphs to come from The Monitor which, in and of itself, is perhaps the greatest big bad batshit expression of the potential for historical cum literary (sometimes, aggravatingly so) rock and roll I’ve heard since…um…I don’t know, actually.

Titus Andronicus are certainly a band with a niche.

So, yeah, it’s great.

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And the fans are transcended.

One sweaty kid comes up to me after their set to apologize for blocking my pictures. I shrug it off.

“Shit happens, man. Don’t worry about it.”

“I was just so fucking excited to see them. They’re my favorite fucking band, man. I mean, I wanted to see Metallica. That’s why I’m here, you know but I live in upstate New York and nothing ever fucking happens there…no one ever plays there so I never, ever, EVER thought I’d get to see them.”

“What did you think?”

“It changed my life.”

High five.

Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold. Avenged Sevenfold.

Why do I hate that name so hard?

Is it because it’s as sophomoric as getting a tattoo of a Chinese symbol for “Warrior” on your dick in the hopes that, one day, you’ll…oh, forget it.

They’re still playing so I check them out.

Fuck it.

They announce this show is going to be released as a live DVD so the crowd is encouraged to consolidate several unique pits into one massive pit for the last song which they do and then there are fireworks.

More fire.

Awesome for the initiated, I bet.

After the set, some guy starts selling bootleg Metallica t-shirts for $20 a pop, hiding an ample stash in his underwear.

I am impressed.

Ed. Note: We, at Pinpoint, do not condone the bootlegging of Metallica (or any band, festival, etc.) merchandise and would suggest that, if you are so inclined to procure memorabilia at a rock show, that you do so through approved channels so that the people you love get paid and you aren’t left holding a shirt with a typo.

Scores of others are milling around searching through booty (lost shoes, mostly), pleading with security guards for set lists, drum sticks, picks, ANYTHING!

A security guard is finally fed up.

“FUCK OFF! GO SEE METALLICA!”

METALLICA!

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Tonight’s the Black Album which is not actually called the Black Album at all but is, in fact, Metallica’s eponymous release (as the video they play before they perform it in reverse order as they did last night with Ride the Lightning takes great pains to remind the audience) which changed the metal (and musical) landscape forever and made the members all stinking rich.

And it’s not nearly as good as I remember.

That’s not Metallica’s fault, though.

This record meant a lot to me twenty-one years ago (Holy shit, Metallica is old enough to drink?) but so did Tommy’s Burgers, my turtle and a lazy-eyed girl named Annette. I was a kid and, as a kid, was ignorant of a lot of what was possible in music. I heard Metallica and I heard heavy. I heard evil. I head the truth.

But none of that is true.

Arguably, the album does have its more hefty moments (“Sad But True”) but they’re a pittance compared to what Metallica had done before or what I would hear after (grindcore) and the sentimental balladeering (“Nothing Else Matters”) that really lost the die hard fans back then just sounds so fucking dated now.

And I’m a little embarrassed to think of how I used to write their lyrics in my notebook like stolen poetry.

I get a burger from the place I promised yesterday. Fries again. They remember me. We chat. I lost a Bud Light in a Port a Potty. I get another. “Blackened,” “One,” “Search and Destroy.” I try and take pictures this time. I move up front where some skinny, shirtless boy flips me off and exclaims:

“THIS IS MY MOSH PIT RIGHT HERE!”

I take his photo.

Ed. Note: We never received it.

I need to go.

I don’t go home this time, though. No. This is my last night in Atlantic City. I’m not that drunk. I’m going out.

I hit up a local package story where I meet some dude who shot Titanic. I give him my card, pick up two maximum Budweisers (24 oz. a pop for those who aren’t Jeff and Kwame) and a brown bag.

I meet a prostitute.

Her name is (Ed. Note: Redacted). She is five and a half months pregnant, has a beautiful pitbull named (Ed. Note: Redacted) and just got out of prison for selling meth.

She only did four months but it could’ve been worse if her dad wasn’t a (Ed. Note: Seriously, Charles? REDACTED!) but it’s still all good because she quit partying there when she found out she was pregnant.

We walk up and down Atlantic Avenue for two hours, smoking cigarettes (“I quit partying easy, but this shit is hard.”) and shooting the shit. She knows everybody on the street. Cops, junkies, dealers. She tells me all about Back Pages, how to avoid a dirty trick and what a miserable place Atlantic City is turning now that they’re trying to get the families to come in.

“Family money ruins everything.”

She tells me we’re walking into a neighborhood that I probably shouldn’t be going into on my own.

I wonder if I’m going to get rolled.

I don’t.

We head back. She asks me about the show. I mumble something swift and emphatic with a contrived sense of detachment.

I want to be interesting.

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“Yeah, a bunch of people offered me tickets and I was like, ‘What? Just because I’m white I wanna go to the white folks’ show?’”

“Yeah, there were a lot of white folks.”

“Fuck that, yo.”

I watch her dog while she takes a piss at the bus station. She points out tourists who are tripping their balls off. I laugh. We both do. I consider that of all the situations I could have ended up in tonight, this is, by far, the best.

She drops me off a block from my motel.

She knows the place well.

We hug. She thanks me for hanging out and staving off her boredom. I want to tell her she made my weekend.

I want to explain that all the filth and grime and fury, the hardness, the darkness, the posture of the white male en masse before the pyrotechnic fury only the wealthiest of rock stars can possibly afford is a pitiful excuse for dignity and that she, pregnant, sober, with a five and a half year old who she raised/raises alone and who she wants to give up hooking for but doesn’t know how to deny him the lifestyle she wants him to always be accustomed to, living in a house with no electricity with no real complaints is one of the strongest, noblest, most unflinchingly badass human beings I will likely ever meet but I can’t.

It would be embarrassing.

“You take care of yourself, baby.”

“I will, doll. You too.”

“Oh, you know it.”

Shit yeah, I do.



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