Metallica does everything big.
The quartet doesn’t just play rock music. It helped popularize the powerful and speedy hard-rock subgenre of thrash metal. The band members don’t just argue and fight. They were so tense during the recording of one of their CDs that their dysfunction was the most memorable aspect of their 2004 documentary “Some Kind of Monster.”
So, it makes sense that after 32 years together, the Rock and Roll Hall of Famers would host a big event for their first time playing in Atlantic City.
Metallica holds its first Orion Music + More festival Saturday and Sunday at Bader Field in Atlantic City. Metallica headlines each show, but they are bringing along both metal — Avenged Sevenfold and Sepultura — and non-metal — Eric Church and Modest Mouse, among others — acts to the event. The festival is expected to draw thousands of fans for each of the two days of music.
Bader Field Metallica performances are the band’s only scheduled North American shows for the rest of this year.
Metallica’s big, swaggering rock sound and testosterone-fueled fans made casinos gun-shy about booking them. Fans never really believed that the band would play here.
“When I heard about (the festival), I was very shocked,” said Kevin Schwegel, of Millville. “The closest I’ve seen them is Camden or Philadelphia. This is once in a lifetime. I don’t think they will ever come back to the Atlantic City area again.”
Schwegel grew up listening to Metallica when he was a teen living in Millville in the early 1980s. He’s been a fan ever since.
Schwegel has seen the band live at least 10 times. His favorite Metallica CD is their second album, “Ride the Lightning” from 1984. The band will be performing “Ride the Lightning” and “The Black Album” in their entirety on Saturday and Sunday respectively.
“I look forward to a great weekend,” said Schwegel, 42.
Metallica’s music festival follows three days of Phish concerts last weekend at Bader Field and the Dave Matthews Band Caravan last year. But the Metallica crowd looks to be younger and more male than those that came for the Phish or Matthews shows.
Atlantic City police have done their homework on the bands participating in the Orion Music + More festival and so officials here would know what to expect, said Tom Foley, director of the Atlantic City’s Office of Emergency Management. This included contacting towns that have hosted concerts by the participating bands.
“We're pretty confident that we have a security plan that’s going to work,” said Foley. The plan includes more security than at the Phish or Matthews events.
John Scullion, a fan of blues, metal and rock ’n’ roll isn’t worried about security. Scullion, 37, of Egg Harbor Township, is looking forward to seeing not just Metallica, but also Sepultura and Suicidal Tendecies. He’s also looking forward to seeing Volbeat, a band from Denmark that reminds him of early Metallica.
“It’s nice actually to have (the shows) now right in our backyard, basically, no driving to Philly, no driving to Camden,” said Scullion, who has seen Metallica at least four times. “It’s nice that they are finally trying to do some stuff like this in Atlantic City.”
With close to 30 bands performing, fans who bought tickets should feel like they got their money’s worth from the concert, Scullion said.
The music festival is also giving a boost to some southern New Jersey rock radio stations.
In the 1980s, Metallica was a cult band that appealed to guys, said Sean Patrick, midday jock at rock station WMGM-FM 103.7 in Linwood. But in the last 15 years, the group has begun to appeal to a wider audience.
“They are honestly like the modern-day Led Zeppelin with their appeal,” he said. “They are 30 years into their career, and they are just as big as they ever were.”
WZXL-FM 100.7, based in West Atlantic City, will give away free two-day passes on air until 5 p.m. today. All radio station winners, who won a pair of two-day passes, are automatically in the running to win an autographed ESP Truckster electric guitar and 2 VIP all-access passes backstage.
Steve Raymond, who has been the program director at WZXL since 1993 said he’s never been involved with something of this magnitude.
“The great thing about this festival ... these are bands that are handpicked by Metallica,” Raymond said. “It’s their favorite music and not always the mainstream.... The band Metallica is really reaching out to not only love their audience back, but to actually introduce them to some new genres.”
Patrick doesn’t just play Metallica. He’s a big fan, who has seen the band four times.
“You had your crowd that was there with Metallica in the early ’80s, and they are really digging the band, but then, there is a younger crowd,” Patrick said “They have mass appeal. You have fans that are young — 9-, 10-, 11-years-old — to the fans, who have been around and ... are now in their 50s,” Patrick said.
Metallica’s inter-generational appeal is demonstrated by the Boney family.
Mike Boney, 49, and his son, Tyler Boney, 16, of Mays Landing, will be attending the Metallica festival together after Dad won tickets. They plan to stick together and watch the same bands. Tyler Boney heard Metallica for the first time three years ago, but the group has already won him over.
“They are my favorite band,” said Tyler Boney, who added he and his father will be seeing the group for the first time. “They have great lyrics, great songs and are excellent musicians.”
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