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It's all kind of a blur right now, but I'd like to share what I remember from the M3 Rock festival over the weekend. This is the USA's premier 80's metal festival in it's 4th year at Meriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. This year's lineup included Ratt, Queensryche, Skid Row, Warrant, Dokken, LA Guns, Lynch Mob, Quiet Riot, Great White, Night Ranger, Kix, Enuff Z'Nuff, XYZ, Bang Tango, Loudness and Stryper. If you are an 80's metal fan, you need to try and make it next year!
- Had to battle traffic on Friday night, but got to the show in time to see Enuff Z'Nuff, missing only the first two songs. Original vocalist Donnie Vie and Chip Z'Nuff were there and they sounded pretty good. They played "High" from their 2009 album recorded with Jake E. Lee and help from Steven Adler, which I had just acquired from the internet. This was my favorite track from the album, so I was glad they played it. Donnie lit up a smoke after the last note he sang in every song, as if he couldn't wait another moment. I wish they would've played "Strength", "Time to Let You Go" or "The Way Home" instead of "Come Together". The band arrived at the restaurant I went to after the show. Donnie didn't want to go inside because he couldn't smoke. He told me Jake E. Lee doesn't want to do anything (tour or support the album, I suppose) and he didn't contribute as much to "Dissonance" as people seem to think. I tend to agree after listening to the album, which I really do like. Most songs sounded like a good session guitarist played them and not the Badlands/Ozzy guitar god. Chip was funny and pretended like he remembered me from 6-7 years ago and said "You look good, man!"
- Night Ranger was kind enough to give top billing to local favorite Kix. They played a pleasant set. I was surprised that the drummer sang so much. They played "High Enough" from Jack Blades time in Damn Yankees. His voice was struggling on that one but it didn't much matter because everyone in the crowd was singing the familiar words as the sun went down. I always categorized them with Loverboy, Foreigner, Billy Squier and Journey. For seeming like the oddball amongst all these hair bands, they fit in nicely, and they do feature former Ozzy guitarist Brad Gillis who can really still play.
- Kix showed why they keep moving up the bill at this festival. They played fast, tight and their 85 pound lead singer was pitch perfect and performed with tons of energy. He hit all the high notes that other singers opted out of over the weekend. Songs like "The Itch", "Cold Blood" and "Blow My Fuse" showed this band should've been bigger and are probably the top AC/DC descendant band still up and running.
- So I'm eating at Clyde's restaurant after the show and I first recognized Bobby Blotzer from Ratt, then realized the whole band is there along with many other less recognizable musicians. I kind of felt like I was at the hot rock bar on the sunset strip in the 80's. Then Eddie Trunk walks in and I had to meet him. He was so nice and moved away from the group so my wife could take a picture of us. My wife says "my husband makes me watch your show!", which he thought was funny. How do you think Eddie feels now that he is a bigger icon than any of the bands he has always idolized?
- People were really bummed in the parking lot that Cinderella was unable to make it. I have always loved Cinderella and they were awesome at this festival two years ago. I am surprised that their exit has had such an effect. Tickets were not as tough to get this year and I hope this doesn't mean M3 will be gone in the near future. We missed Great White (One of Cinderella's replacements) while drinking in the parking lot.
- I rushed in to see XYZ, but there was a schedule switch, so I wound up seeing Stryper first on Saturday. They seemed to play well and the guys voice was better than most. I just didn't ever really like their material. I guess they didn't play their biggest hit "Honestly", cuz they ran out of time.
- XYZ finally played on the small stage, and I was able to get pretty close. They played five songs and I knew all of them. The original singer Terry Ilous had one of the best voices of the day. I guess he has been with Great White over the last few years. Their lead guitarist really played well and was a spitting image of the late Mike Starr of Celebrity Rehab fame. What a great underrated band.
- LA Guns then played the main stage. This was the Phil Lewis version of the band, with no Tracii Guns. They really should have played "One More Reason", "Over the Edge" and "Kiss My Love Goodbye". I saw the other version with Dilana from Rock Star Supernova in November. I'd give both shows a thumbs up with a slight edge to Tracii's LA Guns, but now Dilana is out anyway. It's time for these guys to kiss and make up. Two versions of the same band is pretty ridiculous! What a mess!
- Had to refuel during Bang Tango. Listened to "Someone Just Like You" from a distance. Beer and Vodka not mixing so well......ugh!!!! Went over to the VIP ropes. Got a picture with the singer from XYZ. Sweet. Gonna get a gyro and some fries before Dokken.
- So I heard that Don Dokken can't sing anymore from friends before the show. I was still hopeful that maybe he and George Lynch would play together since they are both on the bill. Wow, Don was so bad! He did kind of a reverse American Idol interpretive style where he selected notes two octaves down from the original album versions. He also bellyached about people for not singing along, talked about being in a drug haze for 15 years (but he's clean now, right?), and said some shit about a spiritual sensory moment. On a positive note, the crowd sounded pretty good on "Alone Again" when Don waved the white flag and pointed his mic toward us. Former entertainment lawyer, Jon Levin was pretty incredible during the guitar solos.
- Loudness. Asian heavy metal band featuring Hideo Nomo, Tadahito Iguchi, Hideki Matsui, and Ichiro Suzuki! They only played six songs but it seems like they were on for two hours. They played heavier than just about any band on the bill and their music could pass for Avenged Sevenfold, which is cool. I just don't know their songs. They have like 20 albums. I might check them out.
- I saw Warrant on the small stage at the 2010 M3 fest, and they now graduated to the big stage. Singer Robert Mason, who used to sing with Lynch Mob, is a skilled vocalist who acts like he has been in the band since 1987. I was sure his voice was better than Jani Lane's two years ago, and now there is no doubt. The band did not acknowledge the fallen former singer in any way, which was disappointing. They played 12 songs which was much longer than any non-headliner. They played five new songs. There should be some M3 rule or law against that. "Uncle Tom's Cabin" and "Cherry Pie" did really rock, though. Original guitarist Joey Allen looked like a heavy set balding Lowe's home improvement store manager playing guitar two years ago. He had a full Michael Chiklis makeover and seemed to fit in this time. Dammit! Warrant played too many songs and made me miss the first part of Lynch Mob!
- No Dokken reunion here either. It pains me to say that George didn't play very well. "Mr. Scary" sounded cool, but Lynch seems to be good in short blasts and definitely doinks some notes experimenting in between. Oni Logan was back on vocals, and sounded like he was performing at 80% vocal capacity (Translation: not so bad). Sad to say, but Jon Levin/Oni Logan would be a much better band than George Lynch/ Don Dokken. They didn't play "When Darkness Calls", or "Tangled in the Web". I missed most of "She's so Evil" because of stupid new album promoting Warrant.
- I started to fade during the all star jam. Jani Lane's replacement seemed to be the leader of the all stars (huh?). They did a Dio tribute, and played "All Night Long" by Free. Carmine and Vinnie Appice were the drummers. Then the climax was the guys from Stryper playing "Heaven and Hell". Blah, blah, blah! At least Eddie Trunk was there to introduce the "all stars".
- We stumbled over to Quiet Riot and couldn't get very close. The second stage was cool if you could get right up front but there was no angle if you were in back. I could see the lone original member, Frankie Banali, although I saw former QR guitarist Carlos Cavazzo at the bar last night, who is now with Ratt.
- I was faced with a dilemma. Skid Row, without Sebastian Bach, Queensryche who I'd seen before, and Ratt, who I'd seen several times (and last night) were left. I could stay and get drunk for the third time today or go play poker and get drunk for the third time today closer to my bed. My wife left it to me, but I know that the alcohol and food distractions were starting to wear off. If Cinderella was playing I would have surely stayed. I chose the poker close to home and we were up 85 bucks between the two of us when the game ended at 3am. So I broke even on the beer and Gyros.
- Other comments:
- The bathrooms (D+) were pretty nasty (you don't really want me to go into detail) and sometimes too crowded.
- Parking (A-) was free and they didn't give anyone trouble about tailgating
- The Hilton Homewood (A+) was only 4 miles away, cost $100, had a full kitchen and a free breakfast with waffles, French toast sticks, sausage, omelets and coffee.
- No re-entry was a bummer, you could bring food in a plastic bag which saved us paying for a meal.
- A lot of people were upset because they stopped allowing backpacks and they could no longer sneak in booze.
- People were griping about the lineup, but it suited me. I like XYZ, Lynch Mob and Enuff Z'Nuff which are bands most people would not get excited about. It worked out that some of the headliners were not my favorites, so we could jet early.
- It'd be nice to have a Def Leppard, Poison, Bon Jovi or Motley Crue headline. However, that's not what this show is about. It's about seeing the band that DON'T come to your town every other summer charging $75. I am glad that M3 is only two hours away every year. THANK YOU, M3!!!!!!!!!