After years of headlining others’ festivals, heavy metal band Metallica is finally playing one of its own.

The first Orion Music + More Festival will take place on June 23 and 24 at Bader Field Airport in Atlantic City, NJ. More than 20 bands will join Metallica during the two day event where the Dave Matthews Band had three successful shows last year.

In addition to music, the festival will offer as-yet unnamed comedy acts, as well as a variety of experiential elements that are described as reflective of the band’s individual passions, such as surfing and skateboarding. These activities are advertised as providing concertgoers an opportunity to interact with band members during the festival.

Metallica, who celebrated thirty years together last year, headlines the festival both nights, playing their self-titled “Black Album” in its entirety one night, and “Ride the Lightning” the other. The band chose Atlantic City as a location in order to give their European fans better access to this event.

While the musical roster to date predictably includes such heavy metal favorites as Avenged Sevenfold and black metal band Liturgy, a number of other festival participants may be a surprise.

Arctic Monkeys, indie rockers who were one of the first bands to come to prominence through fan-based website exposure, will take the stage during the festival. Formed in 2002, the Arctics were part of the early 2000’s post-punk revival scene and have enjoyed significant commercial success in their native England. Their first album, 2006’s “Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not”, was the fastest selling debut album in U.K. history and led the group to two number one singles on the British charts.

The New Jersey-bred Titus Andronicus joins the roster to play on their home turf this summer. In 2010, the indie-punk group was named by Rolling Stone magazine as one of the seven best new bands of 2010.

Washington state’s Modest Mouse, whose members are long-time indie rockers with a strong cult following, also joins the inaugural festival’s list of performers. The band’s 1997 release, “The Lonesome Crowded West” is considered to be one of the seminal works of the 90’s indie movement. The band’s connection to the roots of alternative rock is solid, with former Smiths guitarist, Johnny Marr, having played and toured with the band from 2006 to 2009.

Kentucky’s up-and-comers Cage the Elephant, who notoriously defy genre labels, also join the performers in June. The group, currently a favorite of alternative rock stations, combines punk, blues and funk styles to create its unique sound. Cage’s 2011 album, “Thank You, Happy Birthday” was released to widespread critical acclaim and got earned them a booking in the Coachella and Glastonbury Festivals.

The presence of purely indie-punk bands at Orion may not seem that far off track for Metallica, who headlined Lollapalooza in 1996 and played Bonnaroo in 2008. But the list for this summer’s event gets even more diverse with country-punk band Lucero, psychedelic rockers The Black Angels and Roky Erikson, and blues artist Gary Clark, Jr. also scheduled to perform. Clark is another genre-defiant musician, combining soul, blues, and traditional rock to create his Texas-rock fusion sound.

The members of Metallica view this summer’s event as an opportunity to share some of their varied artistic loves with fans, which may inspire some new interests for the band as well. “We’d love to have people open up their focus. Maybe they come to see us but wind up discovering some blues or country act,” Metallica guitarist Kirk Hammett recently told USA Today.

Metallica is co-producing the concert with tried and true promoter C3 Presents, the company behind Lollapalooza and the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Early bird tickets for the event are $150 for two days (with the price eventually going up to $175) with a $125 rate for fan club members. A $750 VIP pass including lounge access, elevated platform viewing, and complimentary food and beverages, is also available, as are specially priced travel packages.

Last Updated on February 15, 2012