I must admit that I was pretty excited when I first read about the lineup for the M3 festival in Columbia, Maryland. Unlike Rock Gone Wild, and Rocklahoma, this is a one day festival, cram packed with more classic hard rock acts that you can handle in one day. There was several bands on this festival’s roster that I have not seen before, so it was a complete no-brainer. I made the trek to Columbia, MD Friday night. Sure it took roughly 8 hours each way by car, but it was well worth it, in my opinion.
The weather was perfect for the event. It was hot and sunny all day, and the crowd for M3 filled up the stands pretty quick.
Before most folks made into the festival, they were greeted by the heavy beats of Carmine Appice’s SLAMM. I only caught the tail end of their performance, but it seemed pretty cool for the most part. This wasn’t SLAMM’s scheduled set time, as they played later on in the festival. Their early performance helped to generate excitement amongst the large crowd filing into the venue.
The festival kicked off with former Guns N’ Roses and Kill for Thrills Guitarist, Gilby Clarke. Gilby’s set was short, but he fired off some of my favorite songs of his including “Tijiuana Jail“ and “Cure Me or Kill Me“. He even threw in “Be Yourself” from the Rockstar: Supernova CD. Imagine That! I never expected to hear a song from this CD again. I think Gilby handled it better than Lukas Rossi.
After Clarke’s set, I had to pick and choose which bands I wanted to see play live because several of the set times over lapped. I HATED this part of the festival. I genuinely like every band on the bill, and wanted the chance to see every band perform. This was not possible, so I had to sacrifice one band over another several times throughout the day. I don’t think this was fair to the bands, or to the fans who paid to see them.
The first choice was Y&T vs. XYZ. Y&T beat out XYZ in the battle of the alphabet bands,and rightly so. Y&T is celebrating their 35th anniversary in 2009, and I wasn’t budging from my seat. This band doesn’t know where Cincinnati, Ohio is on the map (they never play in my hometown), so I couldn’t wait to see them play. Dave Meniketti and company blasted out a rocking set of tunes that spanned over their vast career including, “Dirty Girl”, “Black Tiger”, “Mean Streak”, and “Summertime Girls”. My only complaint is that their set was too short. I would have loved to have heard some more Y&T songs. Some friends of mine were at the XYZ stage, and said XYZ put on a hell of a show as well. I guess you win some and you lose some. I enjoyed Y&T and I hope the rock gods will be kind enough to offer me another chance to see this band, when they can play a full show.
The next band dilemna after Y&T was Slaughter vs. Jetboy. I like Slaughter, but this was no competition for me at all. I immediately ran over to the second stage to check out Jetboy’s set. I got there early, and was front and center for the show.
Jetboy guitarist Billy Rowe was having some sound issues to start the show, but the crew got him fixed up pretty quickly. Jetboy rocked the crowd hard, and put on an extremely tight set of tunes. Out of all of the bands at M3, I would say Jetboy was in the top 2 as far as the performance they gave. These guys should have played on the main stage for sure. Mickey Finn’s vocals were great, and his bright green Mohawk made him one of the most photogenic rockers of the day. The whole band was on fire during this set. Fernie Rod and Billy Rowe’s playing was great. I didn’t know who to keep an eye on. Billy was blasting away on the slide guitar, and Fernie was adding in his awesome licks. Michael Butler is a pretty fun bass player to watch as well. This guy knows how to get a crowd going. New drummer Doug Hovan didn’t miss a beat. Those that hung out for Jetboy’s set got treated to some classic Jetboy tunes including “Feel The Shake”, and “Heavy Chevy”. They also a played a few new unreleased songs that were nothing short of A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!. I can’t wait to see what fans reactions are when they hear these songs. Prepare to be blown away!!
Next up on the main stage was Jani Lane and his new solo band featuring Kerri Kelli from Alice Cooper on Guitar. Jani’s set consisted primarily of Warrant tunes (no surprise there), and a brand new unreleased track. Jani’s voice sounded good, as did his band. Jani has always managed to attract some pretty good guitar players, and Kerri Kelli is definitely one of the better ones. I like Jani Lane and I wanted to stay for more songs, but he is coming to my hometown in a couple of months, and I will definitely be going to see him then. I hung out for 3 or 4 songs, and ran back to stage two for the Bulletboys.
Marq Torien might be the only original member left of the Bulletboys, but this band does not rock any less. I didn’t make it over for the start of their set, but I did catch three or four of their songs before I had to depart for my Jetboy interview. I was disappointed that I didn’t get to hear “Smooth Up In Ya”, but I will definitely catch the Bulletboys on their tour with Faster Pussycat later this year.
I met up with Fernie Rod and Billy Rowe, for a really cool sit down interview, which I will post at HRH later this week. By the time our interview was done, Dokken was finishing up their set. They sounded ok from where I was standing, and I was able to catch Jon Levin wailing away on those infamous George Lynch solos.
I quickly ran back up to stage two to catch Steel Panther perform. I didn’t expect much from these guys, but you know what…. I loved their set. Their songs are a really good hair metal parody, but they are so good at what they do, you can’t help but like them. I must admit that the only songs that I knew were “Death To All But Metal” and “Fat Girl”, but I liked all of the tunes they performed. I will certainly pick up their CD when it becomes available. I couldn’t stay for Steel Panther’s entire set either, as I didn’t want to miss one minute of Kix’s set. I ran back down the hill to stage one and got there right before Kix took the Stage.
The best performance of the day, easily goes to Kix. They were absolutely fantastic. Maryland obviously has a strong appreciation for their band, and rightfully so. Kix’s excellent set included the following songs (in no certain order): “Midnight Dynamite”, “Itch”, “Get It White It’s Hot”, “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” , “Cold Blood”, “Blow My Fuse”, “Girl Money” and a bunch more. Singer Steve Whiteman is every bit as good as the day he started this band. Ronnie Younkins and Brian Forsythe have to be one of the most under appreciated guitar tandems in rock today. Kix’s set was so good, they could have closed this show, and everyone would have been happy. Luckily, there was plenty of rock left on this day. I ran back up the hill to stage two to catch L.A. Guns.
This L.A. Guns is the version with Phil Lewis, Steve Riley, Scotty Griffin and Stacey Blades. The same lineup has been together for quite a few years now and sound great. Stacey Blades might not be Tracii Guns, but he is a damn good guitarist, and does a great job on these classic L.A. Guns tunes. Phil Lewis made this rock fan feel old by mentioning that 2009 was the 20th anniversary of the Cocked & Loaded CD. Good Grief…has it been 20 years already? I enjoyed their short set.
Extreme’s set over lapped with L.A. Guns so I missed the beginning of their show. I really wanted to stay for the whole Extreme set too, but the end of their set overlapped with KEEL’s. From what I could tell, Gary Cherone sounded exactly the same, and Nuno Bettencourt was amazing as always. I enjoyed the few songs that I got to hear.
I quickly ran back up the hill (are you seeing a pattern here) to catch the start of KEEL’s set. Judging from what I could tell from KEEL, I should have stayed to watch Extreme. I don’t know what the deal was, but something was missing in KEEL’s performance. I think Ron Keel may have been having some sound issues as his voice did not seem very loud in a few songs. He was using a wireless microphone, and this could have been oen of the problems. I thought his voice was a lot smoother, and no where near as coarse as it was back in the 80′s. It was this coarseness that gave KEEL such a cool metal sound, and I didn’t hear it during their set. They played songs from all of their albums which was cool, but I kept feeling like this was a phone in perfomance. Some of the songs from the KEEL set list was (in no order): “Cherry Lane”, “The Right to Rock”, “Speed Demon”, “Because The Night” and a few more. I hope I get the chance to see KEEL again. I love their music, and they definitely deserve a second chance. I had high expectations for KEEL at M3, and the band didn’t meet them.
I headed back down the hill one final time for RATT & Twisted Sister. I wanted to see Carmine Appice’s SLAMM, but I was ready to see two full sets of music before I called it a day.
RATT was up next, and they did not disappoint me. Pearcy’s voice sounded pretty good for the most part, and Warren DeMartini was awesome. He has been one of my favorite guitarists for a long time, and he did not disappoint. My seat for the main stage event was on the far right hand side of the stage, and the sight line wasn’t the greatest. I immediately realised that the rhythm guitarist was not Carlos Cavazo, but appeared to be John Corabi. His hair was a little different since the last time I saw him, and I almost didn’t recognize him. The one thing I have noticed the last couple of times that I have seen RATT is that Corabi kind of stands off to the side and lets the rest of the band do their thing. I don’t know if there is bad blood there, or what the deal is. Corabi is a terrific musician and singer, but I wonder how happy he is in RATT. Aside from that, I enjoyed RATT’s set. Their set list included: “Lay It Down”, “You’re In Love”, “Back For More”, “Wanted Man” and much to my surprise and enjoyment, “Nobody Rides For Free’ (From the Point Break Movie soundtrack).
Twisted Sister took the stage around 9:30, and immediately was experiencing sound issues. JJ French did not have any sound to start the show, and it took quite a while for the Twisted Sister crew to get him fixed up. After the inital snafu’s at the beginning of their set. Twister Sister kicked some major ass to close out the M3 festival. This was my first experience seeing Twisted Sister and a couple of things surprised me. These guys talk a lot during their shows. Dee Snider was pretty funny, but did he really need to continue to advertise his House of Hair Radio show during Twisted Sister’s set? Was JJ French’s rant about American Idol really necessary? Twisted Sister needs to play more and talk less during their shows, in my opinion. Aside from too much talking, I loved Twisted Sister. Their set was high energy, hair flinging fun, and the band really does try to put on the best show possible. Their set list included the following songs: “Under the Blade”, ‘Horror-teria”, “We’re Not Gonna Take It”, “Burn in Hell”, “The Price”, and I Wanna Rock”. Twisted Sister’s set was a great ending to an amazing day at Merriweather Post Pavillion. I hope they make this an annual event. If they do, I will be back!!