Metal Mofos attended the 9th annual M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavillion in Columbia, Maryland. M3 is a throwback to bands of yesteryear who once ruled the radio airwaves and graced MTV with popular music videos. The festival features bands who play a style of metal that people either love or love to hate, hair metal.
The festival, hosted by Eddie Trunk and Lita Ford, kicked off Friday April 28 with a special acoustic performance for VIP ticket holders by Lita Ford. The first band to play for everyone at the festival were newcomers Station. It’s nice to see bands from a younger generation playing this style of music (more on this band to come from Metal Mofos). Next up on the bill were Baton Rouge followed by Dangerous Toys.
After Dangerous Toys finished it was time for the four main acts of the evening: Faster Pusssycat, Winger, Loverboy, and Kix.
Faster Pussycat played their set without vocalist and sole remaining original member Taime Downe as he had been hospitalized the previous day with pneumonia. The band played their set anyways with guitarist Ace Von Johnson, bassist Danny Nordahl, and drummer Chad Stewart handling some singing plus they got a little help from their friends Share Ross from Vixen and Ted Poley from Danger Danger to sing Faster Pussycat classics “House of Pain”, “Bathroom Wall”, and “Babylon”.
Winger were up next and opened their set with the classic lead off track from their debut album, “Madalaine”. They continued on in their set with all their big hits such as “Miles Away”, “Heading for a Heartbreak”, and “Easy Come Easy Go”.
They included newer song “Rat Race” off their 2014 album Better Days Comin’ which has some great hard rockers on it. Winger ended with “Seventeen” which contains one of my favorite guitar solos shredded out masterfully by lead guitarist Reb Beach.
Winger all in all put on a great performance and sounded fantastic. Kip Winger mentioned how much he loved seeing everyone out in the crowd and how important it is to support live music. If you like a band go to their shows!
Up next was Loverboy, a band I haven’t ever really lumped into the hair metal category so I thought their presence here was a bit out of place. They’re more just straight ahead very keyboard oriented 80s rock. However, their live performance got my respect and had some pretty good guitar playing. Of course they closed out their set with their hit song “Working for the Weekend”.
The headliner for Friday night was Kix. You might be thinking, how can Kix headline a festival over the multiplatinum selling bands Loverboy and Winger who preceded them? I’ll tell you why. Maryland is Kix territory. Kix are from Hagerstown, Marlyland which is not far from where the festival is held, and they are very popular there. I can see why too. Kix puts on a great live show! Frontman Steve Whiteman is great to watch onstage as he struts about belting out his songs. He’s onstage banter between songs is something nobody should miss either.
Kix played without guitarist Ronnie Younkins who has struggled with some addiction problems in the past and relapsed recently. The band could not find him when they were about to head out of town to play some shows a couple weeks prior. He is now in a rehab facility and we all wish him well. All guitar duties were handled by Brian Forsythe.
Kix played great songs from their back catalogue such as “Midnite Dynamite”, “Don’t Close Your Eyes”, “Blow My Fuse”, and “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah. Their set was also highlighted by many songs from their newest album Rock Your Face Off which may be the best of the career and should be highlighted as one of the best comeback albums ever.
The festival resumed at 11:00 Saturday morning with the band 1 Night Stand who kicked off the festival on a second stage called the Forest Stage. This festival needed a second stage so they can fit more bands in and have everyone play back to back time slots between the two stages.
Early highlights from Saturday included Mitch Malloy, Danger Danger, Jack Russell’s Great White and Autograph (more on them coming soon as well). You just can’t help but sing along to Autograph’s megahit “Turn Up the Radio”.
The meat of the festival started around 5:30 when Warrant hit the stage opening up with “Down Boys” from their first album. Frontman Robert Mason was excited to watch as he moved about the stage and sang the songs with great passion.
Warrant threw in the title track of their upcoming album Louder Harder Faster into the set and it sounded great. Joey Allen and Erik Turner still create some great rocking guitar riffs. They closed out their set with none other than “Cherry Pie”
The best performance of the weekend started at 7:30 when the Tom Keifer band came on the stage. He put on an amazing show which was filled with Cinderella classics. He opened up with the title track from Cinderella’s 1994 album Still Climbing, a highly underrated album that had it been released 5 years earlier would have surely gone platinum. Next up was “Somebody Save Me” off the Night Songs album.
Tom decided to slow it down for the third song of the set which I thought was a bit premature, but hey, it worked. He grabbed his acoustic guitar and started playing my favorite Cinderella ballad “Heartbreak Station”. I was a bit surprised Tom only chose to play two songs from his solo album The Way Life Goes. It’s a really great album and I think he could have thrown in another song or two from it, but Tom Keifer is a 30+ year music veteran who knows what he’s doing and what the crowd wants to hear.
Everyone was singing along to the popular Cinderella songs “Shake Me”, “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till it’s Gone)”, “Nobody’s Fool”, and the last song of the set “Gypsy Road”. Tom Keifer was a great performer and played different instruments in the set such as piano and steel guitar which proved just how good and versatile a musician he is. I would love to see him perform again someday.
Dokken closed out the second stage that night. Guitarist George Lynch had reunited with the band for a Japan tour several months back, and I was hoping he would continue on with the band, especially for a large festival date like this. My hopes were crushed though as George Lynch was not the guitar player on stage. However, it was still nice to hear Don Dokken sing classics like “Into the Fire”, “Breaking the Chains”, and “Alone Again” in which Jack Russell from Great White joined him on stage.
Ratt headlined the festival and gave us all a great send off. Ratt is a band who really put out some great metal in the 80s.
The highlight of their set for me and many others in the crowd was when they played “Lay it Down” and “You’re in Love”, off their 1985 album Invasion of Your Privacy, one right after the other. One can hope the guys in Ratt can work things out with original drummer Bobby Blotzer and all play together again so we don’t have two versions of Ratt out there floating around. Ratt closed out the night with their ever popular “Round and Round”, a fitting end to a great festival.
Eddie Trunk mentioned Saturday evening there will be some special things cooking up for the 10th anniversary of the festival next year. If you love the type of music played by the artists I just wrote about I definitely recommend the trip to Maryland next spring to see this festival.
Article Feature Photo by: Shane K Gardner (rocknrollsocialite.com) for Merriweather Post Pavilion”
All other photos by Isaac Sauers
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