Let me start off by stating that the M3 Rock Festival has been my personal favorite of the music festival season so being unbiased is probably not an option here.
That being said, I will get the negative out of the way quickly. The first negative is that with all festivals of any decent size, some bands get very short sets. They are barely able to warm up before their given time is up. Abbreviated sets force the bands to play only their best known cuts, much to the delight of many, but disappoints the die-hard fans. The only other notable negative is that time has not been the friendliest to a select few of these guys.
However, almost every artist gave it their best, which made up for the shortcomings that a couple guys experienced. There was a total feeling of camaraderie in the crowd as well as on stage, which everyone seemed to feed on. Many strangers, arm in arm, partook in countless sing-a-longs, so out of key, even auto tune couldn’t save them. Nobody cared!
The crowd really enjoyed newcomers Gabbie Ray, Enuff Z’Nuff, Britny Fox, Lynch Mob and Vince Neil’s Band on Friday, but of course
the night belonged to local favorites, Kix, as does every opening night at M3. As much as people went bananas Friday for all the bands’ hits from “New Thing” to “Girlschool” to “Wicked Sensation” to “Home Sweet Home” to “Cold Blood”, most paced themselves for Saturday’s early start.
Saturday started with a bang as Faster Pussycat, Heaven’s Edge and Every Mother’s Nightmare all proved that rock n roll can thrive any time of day. Faster Pussycat was an early day favorite, starting their set at 11:20 in their pajamas.That itself is shocking, since many would guess that Taime Downe sleeps in the nude. The early rising crowd was fully engaged for hits “House of Pain” “Slip of the Tongue” and all the other favorites they packed into a 25 minute set.
Another early favorite, Steelheart, complete with Milijenko Matijevic’s soaring vocals, really set the bar for the rest of the day when he effortlessly hit the notes of “I’ll Never Let You Go” . Adler’s set of GnR classics went over big .Steven Adler, with an ear to ear grin, seemed to be the happiest guy on stage all weekend.
Firehouse brought the lighters out in full force during what seemed to be everyone’s wedding song (first or second wedding, that is). Y&T as always deliver. Dave Meniketti”s voice sounds as great live as on 25-30 year old recordings. “Summertime Girls ” and “Don’t Stop Runnin'” put the crowd into an absolute frenzy!
Quiet Riot were steady and powerful, with the criminally underrated Jizzy Pearl fronting them though all the QR favorites. Slaughter, featuring the most insane showman drummer, Zoltan Chaney, were not to be missed. I believe the band pulled double duty, backing Vince Neil on Friday. Zoltan completely steals the show with his crazy antics, but never missed a single beat.
Saturday night basically featured 4 headliners, one after another. Night Ranger hit the stage, blasting through every hit you remember and even a Damn Yankees tune to boot. People forget the non-stop hit machine these boys were. From start to finish of their set, it was a 10,000 plus person sing-a-long. “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me”, “Sing Me Away”, “When You Close Your Eyes” and the ubiquitous” Sister Christian” were all killer. The Rangers can still really sing and sincerely enjoy performing.
Next up was Tom Keifer, the former voice of Cinderella. Tom tore the roof off of the still under renovation Merriweather Post Pavilion. Playing classic Cinderella tunes like “Shelter Me”, “Nobody”s Fool”, “Shake Me”, “Gypsy Road” and of course “Don’t Know What You Got” among others, he threw he crowd into an absolute frenzy. As if the crowd wasn’t rabid enough, good old Tom deftly covered “Purple Rain” in a tribute to Prince. That would be enough to close most shows, but we had two more acts to delight in.
Queensyche had the unenviable task of following Mr. Keifer, but proved up for the challenge. Being the most “metal” band of the festivities, somewhat out of place, was not an issue for these guys. “Jet City ,Woman” and “I Don’t Believe in Love” went over big-time. New vocalist, helming the ‘Ryche for about 4 years, Todd LaTorre, is an undeniable powerhouse, breathing a new energy into a veteran unit
Ok, full disclosure time, to say I love Tesla is like saying the sun rises in the east, sets in the west. It’s a fact of life. The perfect closer of the weekend for me. Tesla has never laid the proverbial egg on stage, nor did they at M3. Delivering song after song with an intensity, sense of pride and what appears to be an unbridled love, they were without doubt the most engaging band with the fans in a weekend long
love-fest between the stage and seats. Jeff Keith’s smile might have only been outdone by the previously Steven Adler. Powering through a catalog that is unequaled by anyone, save the likes of Queen, Van Halen and Led Zep in the hard rock lexicon, Tesla fired on all
cylinders. Every song was a showstopper, with the exception of “What You Give” which was as powerful and touching as anything you”ll ever hear in the live music arena. One song absolutely blew everything away from the whole festival.
If you love “hair metal” you have to put M3 on your bucket list. Overall, a very smoothly run festival. Very little dead time, music wise, but plenty of time to drink, mingle and make new friends, all while enjoying great music. That’s what a music fest is all about – killer tunes, great times and making new friends. See y’all next year!
Remember, it’s not what you got, it’s what you give.
M3 Rock Festival
April 29-30 2016
Merriweather Post Pavilion
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