My Top 5 Unknown Bands from Orion Music + More Festival

I failed.  I knew I would, but I tried hard.  Ok, not that hard.  But I made a good run at attempting to catch a glimpse of almost every band that performed over the 2 day Orion Music + More Festival.

By bringing in bands from a wide spectrum of genres, Metallica wanted to create a Europeanesque festival in the U.S.   And, I’d say they succeeded.  For a look at my overall impression of the festival including a photo gallery, checkout this blog.

My goal here is to point out some acts that I might not have checked out otherwise, except for maybe Gary Clarke Jr.

Gary Clark Jr.

In preparation for Orion, I listened to a few tracks by GCJ.  Impressed with his overall sound and vibe, I was excited to see him perform live.  Especially considering I’m a guitar player who dabbles in playin’ the blues.

Bottom line, this guy’s the real deal.

Some reviews noted that he was the new Hendrix or Stevie Ray Vaughan.  For me, those 2 guitar players hold iconic status, so comparing anyone to Jimi or SRV gets my attention.

GCJ’s humble stage presence and modest demeanor remind me of Hendrix.  His careful note selection captivated all of us.  Would I throw his music into my regular mix? YES!



The Miami-based band put on a great show on the smallest of the Orion stages, aptly named Damage Inc.

I did some research on Torche before heading to Orion and thoroughly enjoyed the music from their 2008 release Meanderthal.  Decibal Magazine ranked Meanerthal #1 on their list of Top 40 Extreme albums of 2008.  Harmonicraft is their newest album, released earlier this year and is absolutely worth the listen.

It’s hard to classify this band.  In one sense you think metal and the other you think hard rock (think Alkaline Trio).  Their sound is big and hard hitting.  Steve Brooks’ vocals meld nicely with the chunky guitar rhythms.

Cool band, for sure.

If you haven’t heard of them, check them out.  Would I put them in my regular mix? Yes. Definitely.

Eric Church

I’m not a country music fan.  Well, I am if you consider names like Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, and Hank Willams Jr. country music.  What I’m not a fan of is the new generation of designer jean- cowboy hat-pop country.

Opinions aside, I was actually looking forward to seeing Eric Church perform, particularly after James Hetfield announced him as “country’s bad boy.”  That, along with the giant banner hanging above the stage featuring a skull with a “Busch Light” trucker hat and aviators.

His band was heavy.  I mean the guitars were heavy!  Their sound was perfect for the main stage and they drew a good crowd.  To be fair, it’s not difficult to draw a crowd at a festival with lyrics like, “Jack Daniels kicked my ass again last night.”

Would I buy an album and listen to it regularly?  Probably not.  But I enjoyed their set and the change of musical pace on that warm sunny afternoon.

The Gaslight Anthem

Gaslight are local East Coast boys gaining in popularity.  I can see why.  I enjoyed their live show.

They are obviously influenced by Bruce Springsteen, another local East Coast boy done good.  You can hear influences of Motown mixed with a bit of grit in their sound.  Cool stuff.

Gaslight is a rock band.  If you’re shopping for some new rock, check them out.  Their style is very accessible and easy to listen to.

Would I put them in my regular mix?  Sure.  They seem like nice guys.


Playing on the biggest of all stages, the Swedish metal band Ghost was clad in full-length white garb.  The singer wore a clergy cassock and skull makeup.

I, along with others, was fully entranced with the band’s stage presence and big sound.  Not normally a fan of Swedish Heavy Metal, I’m glad I checked these guys out.  Towards the end of their set they played a cover of the Beatles, “Here Comes the Sun.”  Which seemed odd and fitting all at the same time.

After their set closed, I had a strong suspicion that they gained some new fans on American soil.

Are they going in my regular mix, I’m undecided.  Although I like the song, “Ritual.”  Check it out.