Another M3 Festival is in the books and your crew here at Mid-Atlantic Rock Reviews has been there for all of them. I have heard some be critical of the lineup this year, but I will not be one of them. I was happy with the lineup on Saturday and mostly pleased with the Friday lineup.
I have respect for the School of Rock kids and all the talent they display, but I think I would have preferred to see a local “play in” band on the bill. I was equally puzzled by the choice of “In the Pink” as an opening act on Friday. Due to our travel schedule we could not be there for either of these bands, so I cannot comment on how well they played.
The rest of Friday evening was a good opening night lineup. Enuff Znuff is not a band I really have followed much, but they played a decent enough set and they got the crowd warmed up and in the “hairmetal mode”. Naturally the crowd eagerly waited for “Fly High Michelle” and was not disappointed, although the vocal performance was a little shaky on this one.
I heard some debate about whether Kix or Night Ranger should have headlined on Friday. Despite the national audience this festival draws, there is still a predominance of Baltimore area fans at the festival, which makes it tough for Kix not to headline. Night Ranger was once again fantastic. We have seen them three times this year and they have quickly turned into a “must see” band for us every chance we get. The vocals are still flat out awesome from all of the guys and the guitar/ bass combo of Brad Gillis and Jack Blades is tough not to like. These guys, along with Kix who followed them are among the best of the 80s bands still playing in terms of bands who sound pretty much the same as they did back in the day. I have always thought drummer Kelly Keagy was and still is a very underrated singer.
Kix is a band we’ve reviewed many times and as those of you who read loyally know, are among K-rock’s all time favorite bands and live acts to see. We see these guys all the time and they are always a crowd pleaser. The thing about Kix is that they have such a loyal following in the Baltimore metro area that a Kix show in the Baltimore area is a totally different experience than anywhere else. It is an insane reunion of fans watching the band they grew up with and enjoying one of the best frontmen in all of rock and roll in Steve Whiteman. Another Awesome Kix show in the books!
I would really love to see M3 make Friday night a “local” sort of show and bring in great bands from the Baltimore region for a similar “Mini M3” for the Friday night show. Bands like the Ravyns, Child’s Play, Kix, Bootcamp and maybe even Joan Jett as well as other classic regional bands would be a real treat for a Friday night crowd. Just my humble suggestion.
As with any festival, we did not get to see all of the bands. M3 did a very good job staggering them (this was because the festival was televised on HdNet), but we made the decision in a few cases to forgo one band in favor of a front row spot for another.
Let There Be Rock: We did not see
Drum Wars: This was an interesting act to watch as Carmine and Vinny Apice played a short set of “drums only” music. I can’t say that it was something I would go to see specifically, but as an early act it was interesting. Seeing the two legends up there was unique.
Great White: Let’s first note that this is the band now known as Great White which features Terry Ilous (also the singer for XYZ) on vocals. Jack Russell’s Great White still tours as well and was not at this festival. I am not getting into the whole debate here on which is the better band. Many folks were critical of the bands performance, and while I will admit that they were not among my favorite acts of the day, I don’t think they were bad. I think singer Terry Ilous does an amazing job singing the classic Great White tunes. He is a seriously talented singer. It just seems their tunes lack a little “fullness” to their sound. I am not a sound engineer, just a fan, so I can’t give you the technical reasons for this. I think the band played a decent enough set, although I did hear a number of other fans be somewhat critical.
Streetlight Circus: Did not see.
Stryper: Did not see. We were really disappointed to have to miss Stryper yet again as we somehow managed to not be able to catch them on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. We had front row center for XYZ and would have had to give that up to see them so we made the tough choice to stay put. We did hear them via audio cast and they were awesome and a real crowd pleaser! Every single person I spoke to who saw Stryper loved them.
XYZ: After seeing XYZ on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, I knew there was no way I was going to miss them. This is a band you do not want to miss if you get the chance to see them live. They were once again incredible, and Terry Ilous managed to pull off singing a set with Great White followed by this gem of a set. I was disappointed that there was only time for 5 songs from XYZ and I hope M3 brings them back for a third time next year with a longer set. We interviewed Joey and Pat from XYZ after the show and you can see that interview right here. I look forward to seeing these guys play every chance I get.
L.A. Guns: I am a big fan of L.A. Guns (this is the Phil Lewis lineup and the one we have seen several times). The guys sounded great again, but I was somewhat disappointed in the song selection for their set list. The band played a great set, it was merely my personal interest in hearing a few songs that didn’t make it in. The guys have so many songs, that I understand, it was just not the list I would have chosen. Still a solid performance. After multiple fan complaints last year of a very short set, the Guns were given 45 minutes this year. I would love to see them work Vampire into their set list and bring back Over the Edge.
Bang Tango: Well, we heard them, but didn’t see them. We were just outside the fence of the second stage for their set. I can’t give a really accurate review of them based on this, except to say that we have been critical of Bang Tango at times, and from what we could hear they sounded very good. The sound is what matters after all right? They won back some points with us based on what we heard.
Dokken: We did not waste our time. Frankly, we have heard enough horrible reviews of recent performances that we decided to go for front row, for Loudness instead. The word is that Don wouldn’t even let the band be broadcast on the HdNet simulcast although I cannot confirm this. I can confirm that they were not broadcast, but the reason is speculation at this point on my part. Don Dokken does seems to have lost touch with reality or he is just hiding what many reported to us to be some horrible singing.
Loudness: These guys were the pleasant surprise of the day. What a rockin’ band! Loudness had the crowd going nuts and screaming for more. This was my first time seeing the guys who made the trip all the way from Tokyo to play this festival. They were among the best acts of the whole festival and I would HIGHLY recommend seeing them. Absolutely phenomenal. I didn’t even know most of the songs and yet I still had no trouble getting into them. They were much heavier than I anticipated and sounded more modern than the “hairmetal” theme that is so prominent at this festival. I will definitely see them again if I get the chance.
Warrant: Warrant was good, but not great. Once again I was a little lulled into being distracted during their set. I seemed to hve felt like I missed some big songs. I don’t know if they were cut short as happened to some bands and that could be the reason. This was the second year in a row that I enjoyed Warrant, but was just not super into it. It is possible that this is because they drew a tough part of the day to play. It was right in the middle, before the sun went down, folks were getting tired and I think I was too. Warrant was decent…just decent.
Lynch Mob : Ms. MARR caught their set and enjoyed Lynch Mob. We saw them on the Monsters of Rock Cruise and they were very good as well. She reports a very good performance despite having a bad time slot in my opinion. The big problem with the side stage at this festival is that unless you are in the first 10 rows or so, it is really hard to see. It sort of slopes away from the stage. I would really like to see some temporary bleachers in the back of the side stage so more fans can SEE and hear the music.
All Star Jam: We skipped the All Star Jam in favor of a front row spot for Quiet Riot.
Quiet Riot: We loved their set yet again. We had the opportunity to see Quiet Riot in October and they were awesome. This was the first time we have seen them with their newest singer in the line of frequently replaced singers, Scott Vokoun. Scott did an awesome job and the band was rock solid. I realize that Frankie Banali is the only original member and heard folks complaining, but we have seen them play a killer set on two separate occasions now and are not bothered in the least by the lineup. They were a treat to see, played tight and rocked the hit tunes.
Queensryche: I am a die hard Queensryche fan and we see them as often as we can, which is not enough. Queensryche has always been among my top ten favorite musical acts and they are always awesome. I know some folks will knock singer Geoff Tate for losing a little range, but the guy simply drops an octave when he needs to and puts on a nice show. Even an octave lower, he is still one of my favorite vocalists. There were a few more obscure choices in the set list, but I love the band so much I wasn’t bothered by them. “Eyes of a Stranger” was and usually is my favorite tune. Wish they would have worked in something from American Soldier, but they did play a nice lengthy set.
Skid Row: We did not see
Ratt: I have heard nothing but folks bashing Ratt’s performance, and I just cannot agree. I thought Ratt was very good and while it is true that Stephen Pearcy may not be at the top of his game, I didn’t think his performance was as bad as I have heard some others report. In recent years, M3 has had some questionable performances from their headliners and I actually thought that Ratt was one of the better headliners we’ve seen to date. I think in the end that Queensryche should have moved up to headliner when Cinderella pulled out. That being said, Ratt played 14 great rock classics and I thoroughly enjoyed the set, despite being exhausted by this point in the day.
In summary, once again, the M3 festival proved to be one of my favorite live music events of the year. It’s pretty hard to top the cruises we take for a several day party, but M3 comes close. And besides, I don’t get seasick at M3. I hope the organizers keep up the good work and keep finding new acts to bring in. Barring anything unusual, we’ll be returning to M3 again next year. Thanks to the dozens of you who took the time to find us and chat with us at the festival. We had a great time as we always do meeting all of you. Looking forward to seeing all of our friends again next year!