The beautiful forested grounds of the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which is known as one of the world’s most acoustically stunning amphitheaters, played host to the seventh annual M3 Rock Festival this past Friday and Saturday. Headbangers from all over the U.S. gathered together to celebrate the music and style of 80s Metal Music. The weather was perfect, the music rocked hard and everyone was reminded that the talented performers of M3 offer more than just hair.
Bad Seed Rising kicked off the music on Saturday and managed to stir up a bit of controversy as well. Two camps seemed to emerge amongst the fans from the start. One group was all for inviting young Metal bands like Bad Seed Rising to perform at M3 and another devout camp insisted the festival is exclusively for 80s bands. Both sides agreed Bad Seed Rising was a great opening act. That was not the point. The point being, what kind of Rock music festival is this? Thus, the debate about the future of M3 began to rumble through the crowd. Discussions and opinions increased when the M3 Facebook page threw out the idea of opening up next year’s M3 lineup to non-80s Hard Rock and Heavy Metal bands.
Gene Simmons recently told Esquire he felt Rock music is dead as a musical genre and that the average age of Rock musicians was ever increasing. He went on to explain how there weren’t enough young musicians interested in Rock music, especially heavy metal anymore it seems. There is a new breed of Metalheads coming up and they need the support of the established Metal community if this musical genre is to thrive amongst the youth once again. So rock on Bad Seed Rising! Job well done.
Tyketto offered up some impressive vocals by Danny Vaughn and Chris Green is an exciting, strong guitar player. The buzz going around for the most anticipated band to perform early on during the day goes to Vixen, however. Everyone was curious to see and hear what the ladies were like now. They did not disappoint. They came out like a powerhouse. Gina Stile has skillfully taken over lead guitar for the band after original guitarist Jan Kuehnemund passed away from cancer in 2013 at the age of 51. Singer Janet Gardner said, “I think about her all the time, especially when we’re up here,” and dedicated “Love is a Killer” to her former friend and bandmate. Roxy Petrucci is still an animal on the drums. These women rock.
Whitesnake video queen Tawny Kitaen was on hand to welcome L.A. Guns to the stage. Known for their definitive Los Angeles sound, Phil Lewis and the guys reminded everyone that L.A. Guns is, and always has been, a force to be reckoned with. For some locals in the crowd, the last time they were treated to live versions of “Sex Action” and “No Mercy” was back in the day at the old Hammerjacks location. The guitar solo on “Over the Edge” was awesome.
V.I.P. ticket holders were able to attend meet and greets with all the bands, which were scheduled at various times throughout the day. The meet and greet lines were long, but it did give fans a brief chance to say hello to their favorite artists and get an autograph. Rock Music and Heavy Metal human encyclopedia Eddie Trunk was also on hand to pose for photos and autograph his books Eddie Trunk's Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal Vol. I & II. The only trouble with meet and greet lines is the fact that you miss other bands performing while you are waiting around for your turn.
Lines for food and drinks weren’t bad at all, but everything was pretty pricey. No matter what you wanted, chicken, burger, beer or fries, the cost was about $10 give or take. The expense does begin to add up after a while.
That Metal Show host Eddie Trunk welcomed world-class rockers Krokus to the stage and they killed it. Considered by some to be one of the best metal bands of all time, Krokus did not get the same recognition in the United States as they did in Europe and Scandinavia. They did pave the way for many who have come after them though. The way the teens and twenty-somethings sang along to all their songs gives old geezers hope that Metal is not dead amongst the youth. If you are into Hard Rock and Heavy Metal, Krokus is a must-see band.
Y&T was a definite fan favorite of M3 2015. The people couldn’t stop talking about their performance and how they owned the second stage. It cranked!
Jack Russell from Great White pumped up the crowd for Warrant’s entrance. Original frontman and lead singer Jani Lane passed away in 2011 from acute alcohol poisoning at the age of 47. Robert Mason took over for Lane on vocals in 2008 and does an excellent job, but it did seem kind of bitter-sweet at times not to have Jani there at M3 where everyone was celebrating the songs he wrote. The dueling guitar solos on ”So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against the Law)” were exciting to watch. Jack and Rick joined Warrant on stage for their set’s closer, a group sing-a-long version of “Cherry Pie.”
Bobbi Brown of “Cherry Pie” fame joined Tawny Kitaen to introduce Queensryche. Many in the U.S. only know of this band due to their hit “Silent Lucidity” but they actually had an established hard-hitting career long before the Empire album which is often overlooked. Singer Todd La Torre took over for founding member Geoff Tate in 2012 and he is absolutely amazing. His vocal range is astounding, as he can really hit those high notes. Some fans were heard saying they feel the band is stronger now that he has joined and think he may be a better vocalist than Geoff altogether.
The other big controversy spreading around M3 Festival goers was the order of the bands. The general consensus was Europe should not have been the festival closer and that Tom Keifer should have been on the main stage. This became very evident during the mass exodus after Tom Keifer’s (of Cinderella fame) set. Europe was up next, but many of the M3 herd didn’t stick around.
Keifer was fabulous. Everyone was abuzz about what he would sound like with his solo band before his set began. Gone were the signature swinging guitar moves of the 80s as Tom came through to deliver some good ole rock n roll to the masses. A fan who drove 7 hours from Boston just to see Tom Keifer said, “How great is he! Cinderella is nothing without him.” She was so right.
Located between Washington, D.C. and Baltimore, MD, Merriweather Post Pavilion is nestled among 40 acres of open fields and woodlands. The venue’s storied history includes Rock music greats such as The Grateful Dead, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Janis Joplin and Led Zeppelin. Merriweather Post Pavilion’s magnificent sound system and multiple large video screens make this location a favorite for bands and fans alike. Discovering there was free M3 Festival parking was a great surprise and much appreciated by the attendees.
The debate as to the future direction of the M3 Rock Festival continues. Is M3 just about 80s Hair Metal or is it meant to morph into something more? What bands do you want to see? Did you agree with the 2015 lineup order? If you would like to join the discussion or follow all happenings check out the M3 Rockers Facebook group here and fill out the survey.