Metallica, Orion stage, 9 to 11 p.m. June 23, 8 to 10 p.m. June 24
What can be said for a band this iconic? Metallica has been at the forefront of the American heavy metal scene since their inception in 1983. Managing to produce top 10 singles as well as iconic albums, the band is truly worthy of legend status. Watching them either night at Orion 2012 you can’t lose as they perform 1984’s “Ride the Lightning” on Saturday and 1991’s “Black Album” on Sunday (both in their entirety). Home run no matter which night you choose.
Best Coast, Orion stage, 4 to 5 p.m. June 24
Let’s be honest, surf pop is pretty much a dead genre. Of course, dead genres are the bread and butter of hipsters worldwide and California’s Best Coast does an admirable job of being both “hipster approved” and still being plain ol’ “catchy.” In other words, you don’t need to be some d-bag with an ironic mustache and an “I’m cooler than you” attitude to appreciate their glassy melodies and infectious hooks ... but it couldn’t hurt either.
Modest Mouse, Orion stage, 7 to 8 p.m. June 23
One of the most celebrated darlings of the alt-pop scene, Modest Mouse gained popularity with the classic (and oddly both water-themed) indie pop gems “Float on” and “Missed the Boat”. Without a full length release since 2007, their appearance at Orion fest is sure to appease fans who have been pining for their return.
The Gaslight Anthem, Orion stage, 5 to 6 p.m. June 23
Bruce Springsteen manages to influence artists everywhere, but to those born and raised in New Jersey, his force seems downright inescapable. That is certainly the case with New Brunswick punk rockers The Gaslight Anthem. While their soaring hooks have a strong voice of their own, the likelihood that “Badlands” was playing in the background when they were written seems quite high.
Arctic Monkeys, Fuel stage, 8 to 9 p.m. June 23
British indie powerhouse Arctic Monkeys are sure to be one of the most exciting acts at Orion 2012. Now four albums deep into their career, they have proven themselves to be more than your basic flavor of the month indie band. With a rabid fan base and widespread success (their first album remains the fastest-selling debut album in British history) their contribution to the UK’s post punk revival will likely be remembered for years to come.
Avenged Sevenfold, Fuel stage, 7 to 8 p.m. June 24
One of the biggest bands in the current metal scene, Avenged Sevenfold has sold more than 4 million albums worldwide (no small feat for a heavy metal band these days). Not without their share of tragedy, in 2009 original drummer “The Rev” (born James Owen Sullivan) died from an overdose of prescription pills and alcohol. The band has since rebounded and managed to produce the album “Nightmare” which debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard top 200.
Eric Church, Orion stage, 6 to 7 p.m. June 24
Yet another sign of country music’s sudden nationwide acceptance is the addition of Eric Church to the main stage at Orion 2012. Known for his hits “Drink in my hand” and the oddly titled “Springsteen,” Church is sure to turn more than a few heads at the festival, and he may just win over some who thought country was not their cup of tea. Then again the metalheads may sacrifice him over a pit of fire in the name of Satan himself. Who knows…
Cage The Elephant, Fuel stage, 6 to 7 p.m. June 23
Hailing from Bowling Green, Kentucky, of all places, Cage The Elephant has been steadily climbing the alternative rock charts for the last several years. Fueled by strong songwriting and a notoriously high energy stage show, it’s no wonder this band was voted “Best New Artist of 2011” in Rolling Stone’s annual reader’s poll. Look to catch your own glimpse of their onstage prowess as they invade the Fuel stage Saturday night.
F***ed Up, Fuel stage, 4 to 5 p.m. June 23
Sure, their name makes it all but impossible for their proud grandmothers to brag about them down at the bingo hall, but Toronto’s F***ed Up doesn’t seem to care what anyone thinks anyway. Known for trashing MTV stages and men’s rooms alike, the band seems to favor destruction as an art form. That’s the spirit of hardcore punk though, and without it the time spent screaming wildly into the microphone would likely seem a bit silly.
Jim Breuer Heavy Metal Comedy Tour, Frantic stage, 4:15 to 5:15 p.m. June 23
Jim Breuer has always wished he was a heavy metal singer. Instead he became one of the most popular comedians of his time. Saturday at Bader Field, Breuer will still be up to his usual antics, but this time he’ll be backed by a live heavy metal band to help fuse the comedy-metal genre with equal parts “bang your head” rock and “pee your pants” laughter.
Volbeat, Fuel stage, 5 to 6 p.m. June 24
With equal doses of Elvis and Metallica meandering around their music (often taking place within the same song) Denmark’s Volbeat puts a truly odd spin on heavy metal. It’s fusion, but it manages not to sound contrived, which is tough to achieve when adding everyone from Social Distortion and Johnny Cash to The Stray Cats all in the same pot.
Hot Snakes, Frantic stage, 6 to 6:45 p.m. June 23
Garage noise punkers Hot Snakes got their start back in 1999 as a side project of band member John Reis while he was taking time off from his other band, Rocket From The Crypt. Attempting to produce a more raw, primal sound than any other projects they had previously been involved in, Hot Snakes developed their sound via a DYI approach to both recording and releasing their records. After breaking up in 2005 the band took several years off before reuiniting last year, much to the joy of noisy garage punks everywhere.
Titus Andronicus, Frantic stage, 7 to 8 p.m. June 24
Semi-local boys they are, hailing from Glen Rock, N.J., this indie punk act takes its music quite seriously, which in a genre so chock full of wise-ass tongue in cheek acts is somehow quite refreshing. Singer Patrick Stickles sings with an urgency and passionate warble that reminds one of Conor Oberst (aka Bright Eyes). The music is ripe with references to the band’s home state, which should endear the crowd at Orion to them immediately.
Gary Clark Jr., Fuel stage, 3 to 4 p.m. June 24
A true artist, Gary Clark Jr. plays music dripping with soul and passion. Declared by some to be “The Savior of the Blues,” Clark has made a name for himself in the music world, recently sharing stages with the likes of Eric Clapton, Buddy Guy, Jeff Beck and other blues giants at the Crossroads Guitar Festival in addition to making appearances at Bonnaroo and the Red White and Blues event at the White House.
Lucero, Orion stage, 3 to 4 p.m. June 23
Lucero is known for its original blend of country and a rootsy style of American punk rock with a bit of a southern twist. Originally from Memphis, Tenn., the band’s sound incorporates various instruments not often found in any type of popular modern mainstream music (accordion, pedal steel guitar, etc). Gravelly vocals, tight musicianship and earnest lyrics make this band one of the true gems of the last 10 years.
Roky Erickson, Frantic stage, 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. June 23
A pioneer of psychedelic garage rock, Roky Erickson has had an interesting life experience to say the least. His early music success as a founding member of the 13th Floor Elevators was later surpassed in the headlines by time spent in prison for drug possession (in which he claimed innocence due to insanity). A diagnosed schizophrenic, Erickson has at various points claimed that a Martian had invaded his body and (while unmedicated) developed an obsession with the U.S. mail that nearly sent him to prison for a second time.
The Black Angels, Frantic stage, 2:15 to 3 p.m. June 24
It’s droning, it’s psychedelic, it’s awash in reverb. That’s what pops into the mind upon first hearing The Black Angels. One would need repeated listenings and a good bit of patience to begin to notice the subtle intricacies of the musicianship. Either way, it was good enough for Roky Erickson who featured The Black Angels as his backup band in 2008.
Baroness, Orion stage, 1 to 2 p.m. June 23
Another southern sludge metal act, Savanah, Georgia’s Baroness combines their sludge with elements of progressive metal which manages to switch things up quite a bit. The band’s roots are in punk, and singer John Baizley’s vocal style routinely evokes that punk sensibility which at times seems out of place. Frankly, this music is too advanced for a vocal to fall flat on its face. With the right tweaks this band could be amazing.
Soul Rebels, Frantic stage, 3:30 to 4:15 p.m. June 24
New Orleans musical traditions run as deep as the bayous they are birthed from, and Soul Rebels manage to harness the best of this tradition while simultaneously breaking away from it. Their music comes from a desire to blend modern pop and hip-hop influences while still keeping true to the traditional style of brass bands that The Big Easy has made famous for years. The Village Voice described them as “the missing link between Public Enemy and Louis Armstrong.” That about sums it up.
The Sword, Fuel stage, 2 to 3 p.m. June 23
Pushing a distinctly “retro” feel into their metal, Austin, Texas, natives The Sword stomp down hard with a palpable weight that all but forces a comparison to Black Sabbath. Using guitar tones (and riffs) that seem more in line with ZZ Top than Korn help to push their classic metal vibe out even further into the forefront. This ain’t Slipknot. And frankly, thank God.
Don Jamieson, Frantic stage, 3:45 to 4:15 p.m. June 23
They say two out of three ain’t bad, and that seems to be the thinking at Orion this year as two out of the three hosts of VH1 Classic’s “That Metal Show” will be performing live on the Frantic stage. Don Jamieson was a relative unknown until landing the co-hosting gig and has since gone on to star in the hidden camera prank show “Meet the Creeps” as well as a stint on HBO’s Inside the NFL (both with partner Jim Florentine).
Jim Florentine, Frantic Stage, 5:15 to 5:45 p.m. June 23
Jim Florentine first gained mainstream notoriety as one of the more famous prank callers on Comedy Central’s “Crank Yankers.” Since then his star has continued to rise both as a stand-up comedian and in sharing one third of the co-hosting duties (With Eddie Trunk and Don Jamieson) on VH1 Classic’s surprise hit “That Metal Show.” Florentine is known for his deadpan delivery and is currently on tour with the Killers of Comedy.
Wooden Shjips, Frantic stage, 1:15 to 2 p.m. June 23
Mixing up a batch of sonic ingredients borrowed from the Velvet Underground, My Bloody Valentine and even a wee bit of Neil Young, San Francisco space rockers Wooden Shjips manage to produce a unique sonic landscape unlike any of their influences. While the lyrics can be nearly impossible to decipher, the mumble-drone vocal style fits this band perfectly (even if it won’t produce many campfire-style sing alongs from the crowd).
A Place to Bury Strangers, Fuel stage, 1 to 2 p.m. June 24
The words “heavy” and “metal” both come to mind when listening to this band, but this music is as far from heavy metal as you can get. Instead, their “heaviness” comes from the raw visceral intensity of their sound and the “metal” comes from the fact that their guitars sound like they are being played by machinery one might buy at at The Home Depot. A Place to Bury Strangers has an intentionally abrasive harshness to their music, yet somehow manages to be both ambient and oddly relaxing.
Liturgy, Frantic stage, 1 to 1:45 p.m. June 24
It’s Black Metal from Brooklyn! And yes, that comes along with all of the visual stereotypes you might expect from a black metal band from Brookl: shaggy beards, vintage clothes, an “isn’t it ironic that I play black metal” expression, etc. The music is described by the band as “transcendental black metal,” which I guess it is. That’s about all I can say about this.
Ghost, Orion stage, 2 to 3 p.m. June 24
Following in the satanic footsteps of traditional Scandinavian black metal, one would hardly expect gorgeous, catchy melodies to be a part of Ghost’s M.O. — but they absolutely are. That fact in itself instantly makes this band 10 times more interesting than your run-of-the-mill doom metal band. Their live theatrics recall the tone of a black mass as each band member (all nameless, known simply as “anonymous ghouls”) helps the creepiness factor by dressing only in hooded robes while their singer dons a sort of satanic pope garb. It all borders on silly (and much of it seems tongue in cheek), but it’s good fun and, honestly, great music.
Charred Walls of the Damned, Frantic stage, 6 to 6:30 p.m. June 24
Their name comes from one of the funniest bits the Howard Stern Show has ever aired, which makes sense considering their drummer and founding member is none other than Stern show writer (and frequent on-air personality) Richard Christy. Charred Walls of the Damned is the latest heavy metal outfit for Christy, who has played drums in the past for metal giants Iced Earth and Death.
Shuli Egar, Frantic stage, 4:30 to 5 p.m. June 24
It seems Richard Christy will not be the only alum from the Howard Stern Show to be making an appearance at Orion this year. Unlike Christy, Shuli Egar does not have any drumming chops to speak of, but is known on air for his frequent interview segments with Stern show “wack pack” members. Egar also manages to have some pretty tight stand-up material that is sure to force a few chuckles from the headbanging crowd.
Suicidal Tendencies, Damage Inc. stage 6:45 to 7:30 p.m. June 23
One of the most influential and important bands in the history of thrash, Suicidal Tendencies has managed to stay afloat despite having to juggle a constantly revolving lineup over the course of the last 30 years. One of the only thrash bands to ever achieve any type of mainstream success (their videos were actually played on MTV back when MTV showed videos), the band has proven their worth and is sure to pack ‘em in tight when they hit the Damage Inc. stage Saturday at Orion.
Sepultura, Damage Inc. stage, 6:30 to 7:15 p.m. June 24
A legend in the heavy metal world, Brazilian band Sepultura has sold over 20 million albums worldwide. Their style of metal has evolved over the years, first beginning in the ’80s as a death/thrash act and then moving on to experimentation with industrial metal and hardcore punk in the 1990s. Sepultura has changed band members more times than most people change socks, yet that seems to be one of the keys to why this band still sounds fresh nearly 30 years into their career.
The Black Dahlia Murder, Damage Inc. stage, 5:15 to 6 p.m. June 24
Named for a famous unsolved crime from the 1940s, Michigan’s The Black Dalia Murder is known for bringing its own brand of melodic death metal to the scene. While the band sound is clearly metal driven, there are obvious influences of punk and hardcore thrown in as well. When it’s all put together, it seems to work well, and in truth it’s nice to have some melody sprinkled over your death metal these days.
Torche, Damage Inc. stage, 4 to 4:45 p.m. June 24
Formed in 2004, sludge/stoner metal band Torche has brought its slow-churning style straight from the bowels of Miami’s otherwise upbeat musical landscape. About as far away from Gloria Estefan that one can get, this particular Miami sound machine relies on droning riffs and pounding drums to get their point across.
LETLIVE, Damage Inc. stage, 2:30 to 3:15 p.m. June 23.
Aggressive post punk from Los Angeles, LETLIVE features a vocal style that one might produce naturally if having been shot in the kneecap with a revolver. It’s desperate, it’s angry and it’s screaming. Fresh off a tour of Australia on the Soundwave Festival, LETLIVE is sure to please crowds at Orion.
Red Fang, Damage Inc. stage, 5:15 to 6 p.m. June 23.
Red Fang is a heavily bearded band and they pretty much fit the preconceived stereotype of what you might expect a stoner rock band from Portland, Ore., to look like. But that’s not a bad thing as the look somehow fits the sound. The music is powerful with a vocal that sweeps through their chugging riffs with surprising sonic grace.
Kyng, Damage Inc. stage 3:45 to 4:30 p.m., June 23.
Currently on tour with fellow Orion acts Red Fang and The Sword, Southern California trio Kyng brings a more-surprising-than-you-would-think hybrid of classic rock, hard rock and heavy metal to the stage. With a vocal style that suggests influences from Alice in Chains and Danzig and drumming that can go from groove oriented to blast beats in the blink of an eye, Kyng certainly has the ability to keep the listener on its toes.
Landmine Marathon, Damage Inc. stage, 2:45 to 3:30 p.m. June 24
Ahh, women and death metal ... such a rare, yet beautiful sight. Not many bands have ever put together this combo, but Landmine Marathon has proven that not only can women sing death metal, but they can grunt and growl along with the best of them. Finally a little eye candy in a genre that has frankly been dominated by ugly, sweaty, poorly dressed guys for way too long now.
Black Tusk, Damage Inc. stage, 1 to 1:45 p.m. June 23
Certainly not the most handsome band you will come across, but then again that may be fitting for an act from the deep south that describes its own music as “swamp metal.” The truth is that’s about the most accurate description one could come up with for this particular brand of sludge. It’s heavy, mud-crusted and likely full of snakes. Sounds like a swamp to me.
Thy Will Be Done, Damage Inc. stage, 1:30 to 2:15 p.m. June 24
Christian heavy metal seems to be a genre that is by nature at odds with itself. How can a band be metal and be so, well ... Christian? Thy Will Be Done ignores this puzzling question and chooses to bring on the growling vocals despite it all. They hit the stage at Orion at 1:30 on Sunday. Let’s hope mass lets out on time that day!