Metallica Play Surprise 'Kill 'Em All' Set At Orion Festival
The band's surprise appearance was billed as the unknown group "Dehaan" and Metallica frontman James Hetfield let fans in on the secret in a coded way on his Instagram page earlier in the day by saying, "Don't miss Dehaan! #MUYA #mff#UwillRegretMissingThem#IfUdoUmightKillEmAll #winkWink#getIt?"
Another hint that the mystery band had a tie to Metallica was given away in the name "Dehaan". Dedicated fans would notice that the star of Metallica's upcoming movie, "Through The Never," is an actor by the name of Dane Dehaan (Chronicle, The Amazing Spider-Man 2), who plays a member of the band's crew that is sent out on a mission during the band's set in the film. The synopsis says that while he is on this mission "he unexpectedly has his life turned completely upside down."
antiMusic's Anthony Kuzminski was on hand at the festival and has this report about the surprise set: When the artist line-up for Orion Music + More was announced a few months back, those who were closely dissecting the wide and vast array of artists noticed a band called "dehaan". No one could find anything out about the band, but the band revealed little tiny clues over the weeks leading up to the festival so at 4:30 on a perfect summer afternoon, the crowd around the Vans Damage Inc stage was full of fans anticipating a potential surprise from Metallica. The banner of "dehaan" was crossed over and replaced with "Metal Up Your A**", an infamous Metallica t-shirt and what was originally supposed to be the title of their debut 1983 LP which eventually became Kill 'Em All.
Shortly after 4:30, fans excitement went up a notch with the appearance of Ray Burton to the right side of the stage. His appearance elicited a chant of "Cliff-Cliff-Cliff", honoring the late Metallica bass player who helped take Metallica to another level musically. Ray went to a microphone and told the crowd to have a great time before James Hetfield appeared telling the crowd that "dehaan" was a mystery band from Baltimore before a shot of distortion paired with Lars Ulrich's crashing symbols initiated "Hit the Lights", the lead cut from Kill 'Em All. In honor of its 30th anniversary, the band decided it would be a good time to tear through the speed metal masterpiece in full. What followed over the next fifty-five minutes was a blistering joy ride of not just nostalgia, but peak into a world that most of the attendees could only imagine in their dreams. Something Metallica has done better than any other band (possibly aside from Iron Maiden) over the last decade if shifting between the present and the past. They are an ever evolving band who continues to reinvent themselves but are acutely aware of the fervent fan following they have and with every opportunity they get, they give the fans what they want. In 2006 when they toured Europe, they played Master of Puppets nightly in its entirety. At last year's Orion festival they performed Ride the Lightning in full the first night and Metallica aka The Black Album the following night. This is not because they have lost their creative mojo, but because it is what the fans want. Due to the speed with which these songs were written and recorded, they may not fit into the mold of an arena show, but at Orion, the songs were a reminder that Metallica was and still is the very best at what they do. When Hetfield told the crowd "This is like a festival, but a club as well", everyone understood completely what he meant. There was a communal and familial atmosphere to their set, with several life long fans holding their children on their shoulders from a distance so they can see, grasp and understand what this band means to so many people.
No sooner did Metallica launch into their set than a spirited and intense mosh pit open up. This was clearly Christmas for many as no one had envisioned Metallica ever performing Kill 'Em All top-to-bottom just for what it would take physically to make it a reality, but they didn't disappoint. Guitarists James Hetfield and Kirk Hammet was aligned as their guitars slashed and swayed the crowd into further hysteria on the metal roar of "The Four Horsemen", the ruthless swing of "Jump in the Fire" and astonishingly ferocious "Phantom Lord". Lars Ulrich delivered unconventional power behind the drum kit from the machine gun drum opening of "Motorbreath" and the quick-footed precision of "Whiplash" which required breakneck force that rippled throughout the crowd. Bassist Robert Trujillo was on another plane with his performing during the set. Of the four members, he has the toughest job as he has to live in the shadow of a ghost, the late Cliff Burton. Despite this, Trujillo captured Burton's spirit and on the bass solo "(Anesthesia) - Pulling Teeth" he managed to deliver an emotional wallop to the crowd as his bass provided an emotional wallop to the crowd's heart. His fingers glided across the neck of his bass he was merciless and meticulously underpinning the band as they rallied around him taking the shred fest into a spiritual space. Metallica is a band who locks in on their musical mission every time they lift their instruments. Few bands can replicate this bond even if they tried. Closing out the set "Seek & Destroy" and "Metal Militia", not a single fan was disappointed. The band made their way off the stage but not before Lars Ulrich stepped behind a microphone with a wry smile telling the crowd "Next up ReLoad". I've always believe the key to life is humor and as much grief Metallica received post-1991, I think they have carried themselves and respected their fans better than any touring band on the planet over the last decade. Read Tony's full report to find out about the rest of day one at the festival.