May 30, 2009

M3 Rock Fest 2009 - Merriweather Post

Category: Live Reviews



Columbia, Maryland

Rocklahoma started up last year as a 3 day festival that covered the hair band era pretty well....surprisingly, the festival sold so well that it created an opportunity for smaller festivals similar in theme to pop up around the States & if you were a hair metal fan that lived anywhere near Maryland on May 30, 2009, odds are you were at the first ever M3 festival held at Merriweather Post in Columbia, Maryland.

I usually do my best to hold back all my negative thoughts, to keep my reviews as to the point as I possibly can, while keeping it entertaining, & also topical, but with this particular concert...I'll be honest, there's no way in hell I can keep it Politically Correct...I've got to be honest, tell it like it was, & give the real low down on the show, so if you are reading this review, there's no sugar coating it here, I'm giving you a true-blue rundown on how I saw things at this show...thinning hair & all!

The gates opened at 11 AM & Gilby Clarke started the show at 12 PM sharp with a 30 minute set that was stripped down, pure rock n roll from start to finish! The first couple o' songs were more recent tracks by Gilby & the last few tracks were the crowd pleasers.."Cure me or Kill Me", "Tiajuanna Jail" & a cover of "Knockin' on Heavens Door" done in the Guns N Roses style. Gilby had a 3 piece band, they got up there, no frills, just music, did their thing & in the same style that Gilby took the stage, he also exited it with a pleasant thank you & goodbye.

(Notice in this pic of Mark Slaughter that you can see Man-Boob & Nip!)

Y&T & XYZ both played around the same time on 2 different stages, & since I am not a huge fan of either, I decided to use this time to interview the guys from Jetboy. I was pleasantly surprised when I found out I got the entire band minus their drummer! The entire band was super down to earth, polite, pleasant, & this was definitely one interview I will remember because it was a genuinely good, fun interview & if you're interested in reading what the band said, the interview is posted at the very bottom of this review. The next band I went to check out was Slaughter....let me tell you, I was pretty surprised when I saw Mark Slaughter take the stage!

I saw what looked like Mark Slaughter on the side of the stage directly before the Slaughter set & my first thought was, nahhh, that guy looks like Mark's fatter cousin or something...this guy had a big belly, man boobs & was sipping a Red Bull.....after the intro tape stopped, that same large bellied guy took the center stage & holy sh*t, it WAS Mark Slaughter! My first thought was, "Wow, maybe he should have been drinking the diet Red Bull?" Seriously, I saw Mark about a year ago & he didn't look as bad as he did at this show...he sounded good vocal wise, but when you got the full on view he looked fat, when you got the side profile....omg, he has like a small b-cup boob size! Dana Strum took a break from his new job working for Vince Neil & Motley Crue to play this show & overall, I might make a few jokes about Mark's weight, but the band sounded good, they did some new stuff, some old stuff, & they actually were to blame for the main stage falling behind in time...the schedule got really screwed up when Slaughter took the stage late for some reason, so it wasn't until Dokken's set that the time lapse was fixed somehow. it's interesting to note that ALL the photographers taking pics of Slaughter ALL commented on how much Mark had changed & I even had one photographer tell me that he did his best to NOT get pics of his stomach or boobs, but my feeling was, hey, if it's there, it gets in the show, so be it, why try to hide it??? Slaughter's last 2 songs were "Fly To The Angels" & "Up All Night", but I left the Slaughter set after song #3 so I could get over to the 2nd stage to catch Jetboy's set! Jetboy took the stage @ 2:05 sharp & their 35 minute set killed...they played a few old songs, a few new songs & closed with "Feel The Shake".

I'll admit that I was never a huge Jetboy fan back in the day....what changed my mind totally though was the strong rock show they delivered at this show....seriously, in my mind, when Jetboy got done their set, I thought to myself, "Ok, this is the band that EVERYONE has to top, Jetboy's set was GREAT!"

Ok, so as soon as Jetboy's set was done I hauled ass over to the main stage to catch Jani Lane...I was shocked when Jani hadn't even taken the stage yet, so I didn't miss anything as far as Jani's set went! Jani opened with "Down Boys" & for the life of me I don't understand why he isn't still with Warrant if he's going to take out a band that does ALL Warrant covers! Jani performed one original song & the rest was ALL Warrant standards! Jani looked & sounded alot better than he did in recent years, but he's definitely a poster boy for substance use & was ironic that he bummed a smoke from a photographer, then cracked open an non-alcoholic beer shortly there after...I think most people would agree that if you're drinking a beer with no alcohol, why bother? Probably the funniest thing I saw after Jani's set was, he was selling t-shirts that said "Jani Lane's Cherry Pie" & it had the Cherry Pie record cover on it....Jani isn't big enough of a star to do what Vince Neil did when Vince did his solo tours & covered Motley songs, plus, Vince didn't try to steal Motley designs & just plaster his name over Motley's logo...that felt kinda cheap to me, like it was damaging the Warrant brand. I will admit though, Celebrity Fit club DID help Jani, he wasn't looking as bloated as he did in previous years!

So, with Jani's set starting so late, after the 3rd song in his set I had to haul ass back to the 2nd stage to catch Marq Torien's Bullet Boys. I really wish Marq would just call the band "Marq Torien's Bullet Boys", because that band he had up there WAS NOT Bullet can't have one original member & call the band the same thing UNLESS it's a case like Dokken where Dokken is Don Dokken's last name & it kinda makes sense...but back to the Bullet Boys...Marq & company took the stage around 3:10 & they played some new stuff, but the bulk of their set was classic material.."Talk To Your Daughter", "For The Love of Money" & the closer, "Smooth Up In Ya". Marq brought the 80's era back to life, he was full of energy, smiling non-stop, he looks alot darker skinned when you see him play outdoors as opposed to seeing him in a club, & my main complaint about Marq was his white pants...dude, White Pants are NOT Rock N Roll...for a guy who's got to be near 50, he's still pushing the glam look as far as it will go & it still works for him, but I bet you his kids secretly hate his wardrobe! The Bullet Boys played a damn good set & they were another highlight of the day!

This is where the time was corrected on the main stage...when Dokken took the stage, the lost time was corrected & I missed the first song or so from Dokken...I actually only saw 3 songs from their set because Steel Panther were taking the 2nd stage shortly, so after I checked out a few Dokken songs, which sounded excellent & I also have to point out that the bass player for this particular show was the same bass player who played on Ted Nugent's last US technically Dokken has the entire backing band The Nuge had since Mick Brown was also in Ted Nugent's last touring band!

Steel Panther are a real band...yet they do so many things onstage to parody old school metal that you might ask yourself, "Did I just see that onstage?" The bands bass player will pull out a mirror & re-apply lipstick in between songs, The bands guitar player rips off every major metal riff from Yngwie solos to Sweet Child o' Mine, & their comedic rants...Steel Panther only played 3 songs, the rest of their set was their comedy...the line that made the ENTIRE crowd laugh was when the bands singer goes, "Wow, I didn't think Baltimore had any black people, but look, there's one here...wait, there's another one, & another one!" Then the guitarist goes, "And I see an Asian too!" Then the singer chimes in, "Steel Panther is bringing back racial diversity to metal!" Then one of the guys in the band says to the crowd, "Dude, she's been checking out your balls all night, see her squinting?", then the bass player says, "Dude, she's not squinting to see your balls, she's Asian!" Steel Panther are politically incorrect, they are really good at what they do, & what makes their show really entertaining is, even though they might be goofy & joke alot, they are really talented musicians too! Steel Panther was a band that, if you missed them, you missed one of the better bands on this bill!

Ok, so after Steel Panther, Baltimore's own, KIX played the main stage, but it was around 5 PM at this point & it was time to take a break & get some dinner, so I listened to KIX's set at the concessions area & saw a few minutes of their set on the large video monitor...I didn't bother checking out KIX at this show because, living in Maryland, KIX play here alot towards the end of the year...I always joke that they do it for the Holiday season, because that's how it usually seems...they play these "reunion" shows when it gets near the end of the year & the reunion shows pack in a decent amount of people which make it a Merry Kix-Mas for all! The next band on the bill was the band I knew I couldn't miss...L.A. Guns!

L.A. Guns took the 2nd stage around 5:50 & members of Dokken were on the side of the stage to check out their set...they played a set that was mostly classic material with only one new song tossed in from the last studio record. It was funny...there was some sort of time issue & the last 2 songs had to be cut to 1 song..there was a choice of "Ballad of Jayne" or "Rip & Tear"...."Rip & Tear" won out & that was the bands closer. Hearing "Sleazy Come" was a pleasant surprise, & I have to stop this review for one moment & ask a simple question....who in the hell is telling Phil Lewis that his hair cut looks good?

Phil has a great voice, he's kept himself in decent shape, BUT, his hair cut looks like something King Louis the 14th might have's short in the front & long on the sides & the back is relatively's a weird quaff & Don Dokken sports the same hairdo as well...that style was NEVER cool, you guys are NOT from Medieval times so do something else! There was a big question of which L.A. Guns would be at this show...the Tracii Guns version of the Phil Lewis version & to be quite honest with you, they need to just call each one either Tracii's L.A.G or Phil's L.A.G., because both bands are confusing the real fans & it's kinda retarded to do that to people...the Phil version is the best version in all honesty, simply because Phil's the voice from the popular era of the band & Staci Blades can copy Tracii's guitar licks identically, whereas Tracii's had a revolving door of singers who don't do Phil's vocals ANY justice! Ok, so the next band on the main stage was Nuno & the Extreme boys.

Nuno is still a guitar god, but what I kinda laughed about to myself is the fact that, what he wore onstage, a vest that was way too small for him & a feather around his neck...onstage, he could get away with that & look semi cool...if he was walking around offstage like that, the ONLY person who would think he was cool would be Prince & in all honesty, Nuno & Prince are probably around the same size, so there's always a possibility that Nuno might borrow Prince's assless pants for a show if they ever become friendly! I like Extreme's music, but what occurred to me when I saw Extreme last year on their reunion tour was, Extreme was NEVER a cool looking band...they were 4 guys who were good musicians, but looks wise...they were kinda trying to fit in with what else was going on...Nuno was the only one who came off kinda cool, the other guys were very...whatever, & my friend Kris made a comment to me that if you take the "r" out of Gary Cherrone's name you get....ok, you can figure that one out, but I will be honest & admit that Gary's moves onstage make Paul Stanley from KISS look manly as hell....Gary's a big guy, yet he moves around on that stage in a very Freddie Mercury like manner....the last song of the night, "Whole Hearted" was marred by a technical problem...Nuno's acoustic wasn't working properly, so he played the song with an electric & the song sounded great!

I made the effort to check out a few minutes of the KEEL, I wouldn't recognize ANY of those guys if I saw them off that was like watching a couple of dudes hanging out at a biker bar who decided to bring their guitars one night & jam...they sounded good, but if you look at the pics of them from the 80's....time was not kind to them! I hate to say it, but Ronnie's gone country & he can't hide that...he's not a rocker anymore!

Ratt were the 2nd to last band on the main stage & they did an hour long set that covered all the classics..."Back For More" actually got the biggest response next to "Round & Round"....Stephen Pearcy looked clean & sober, but up close you can see what the years of partying did to him...Warren DeMartini sounded great, & John Corabi was the 2nd guitarist onstage...I have no idea why, but Carlos from Quiet Riot was not at this show as 2nd guitarist for Ratt...Stephen made a joke that John Corabi was with the band tonight because he was recently paroled...Ratt's set was the best set on the main stage, & after Ratt finished up Carmine Appice's SLAMM did a headlining set on the 2nd stage, but I decided to miss that so I could take a break & get ready for the nights main attraction...the original line up of Twisted Sister!

The T.S. stage was set up pretty fast & the band took the stage just around 9:20....the sad thing was that the entire first song was mostly bass & drums because all the guitar amps had some sorta problem & there was NO sound coming from them, so Dee sang with bass & drums playing while the bands guitar tech tried frantically to fix the problem...they even tried to use other guitars & it didn't work! By the time the first song ended Jay Jay got his guitar to work on & off enough to finish that song, then the tech got the problem fixed & the band kicked things into gear!

Twisted Sister was the ONLY band that played there who had ALL original members & they might be old guys, but they kicked ass! "Burn In Hell" was my personal favorite of the night, because Dee got infront of a dim red light & they turned the house lights down to Dee looked super-evil & he did his thing, looked like the creepy dude from Strangeland, & whether you like Twisted Sister or not, I give them credit, they played a great set, they were the original band, they gave it their all & they had to cut their set short & didn't get to play "S.M.F." due to curfew restrictions....we left while the band was playing the last song of the night, "I Wanna Rock" & I will tell you something, this venue is adjacent to a large mall...we could hear Dee's voice all the way over to the mall parking lot...Twisted Sister's sheer volume was mind numbing & anyone who didn't wear ear plugs probably left that show deaf!

M3 ended just before 11 PM, a little over 10 hours of hair metal & the night ended with the thought that perhaps there would be a 2010 version of M3 since this one was such a success! I'd like to thank Keisha for hooking us up for the media passes for the show & I'd also like to thank Chelsea for coordinating the Jetboy might seem like I was trashing all the bands, but in all honesty, I had a blast covering this show, it was what it was, the crowd & the bands were a sight to see....speaking of which, here's my Jetboy interview that I did in person at the show..enjoy!

Rock N Roll Experience: So how many members are "original" in Jetboy these days?

Fernie Rodd: Mickey, Billy & Fern are still here

Rock N Roll Experience: So what have the members of Jetboy been up to since the band kinda ended or was put on hiatus for all these year.

Fernie Rodd: Oh, you're just gonna go right for the jugular, aren't you? (laughs) Billy was doing American Heartbreak, he stayed busy playing music, Mick I believe was living in Hawaii & doing music & DJ work, right mick?

Mickey Finn: Yeah, I was a DJ & into electronic music, DJing & promoting clubs & what not.

Fernie Rodd: I was just laying low, playing music, doing alot of guitar writing, just trying to figure out what laid ahead...I think, once you're a musician & you play an instrument, you don't really ever necessarily leave it for very long...for us it's pretty much in the blood..I couldn't get away with anything else even if I tried.

Mickey: I got married when I left the band & I tried to go & have a normal life & that failed miserably & at that time I got turned on to electronic music & the rave culture scene & had no intentions of getting back into music, but the next thing I know I am DJing, the next thing you know I'm producing electronic music & then people decided they wanted to hear good rock n roll again, so...


Rock N Roll Experience: But you have to admit, the DJing stuff isn't the same as live rock n roll!

Mickey: No, not at all! I mean, there is a creative flow to it, because like for me I was a mix DJ so I was like matching beats, scratching, like turntable-ism vs. playing on a computer kinda thing & then producing electronic music, it's creative, you know? It's definitely not the same as belting out songs though & performing for crowds that are rocking out!

Rock N Roll Experience: Music has changed alot since Jetboy came out in the 80's, so what stuff are you into music wise these days?

Fernie Rodd: You don't really leave the roots of what you grew up with, all the great bands are still there, there's contemporary bands that everybody listens to, I mean we have our buddies in Buckcherry, most of the bands that are still around that we grew up with we still listen to & then some, so I don't know, there's nothing drastic, like we don't listen to that anymore, but music is music & it never stops.

Rock N Roll Experience: The funny thing is, alot of the bands from today steal from your era!

Billy Rowe: Yeah

Fernie Rodd: Well, usually with every genre, every style of music, there are the originators, there are the bands that started something, & we didn't know back in the early days that we were going to be part of that, we were influenced by the bands of the 70's, The Dolls, Hanoi Rocks, all these great bands

Rock N Roll Experience: Well didn't the name Jetboy come from Hanoi Rocks? Fernie Rodd: Pretty much's funny, because it wasn't deliberate, but yeah, I guess it did because we were throwing names about & that one came up & we looked at it & thought, yeah, that's kinda cool, then we made the connection & it just stuck, it just felt like the right thing to do & we just kinda grew from there & you know, it connected to what we were anyways, we were & still are, we have the glammy rock n roll..the glamorous life influences, so that's all still there...absolutely.

Rock N Roll Experience: You're big New York Dolls fans, right? I can tell it!

Fernie Rodd: Oh yeah, we were fortunate enough to play with, back in the day, one of the great shows we did back in the 80's was Guns N Roses, Jetboy & Johnny Thunders...that was a huge show for us, it was mayhem that night (laughs) & we recently hung out with the New York Dolls when they were on tour last year & Billy is good friends with Sylvain Sylvain, Sammi our old bass player is in the Dolls, so the connection & inner-twining is great!

Billy Rowe: We are a part of the family tree now & that's cooler than cool

Fernie Rodd: We are branch number 7 now to be exact on the family tree (laughs)

Billy Rowe: That's pretty wild

Rock N Roll Experience: So when is the new Jetboy record coming out?

Billy Rowe: It's more like, when are we getting in to the studio? We are playing 3 or 4 new songs today & it's just a matter of finding the right studio, the right engineer, & getting in there, but we are hoping to get in the studio in June

Fernie Rodd: June/July, sometime in the Summer & hopefully things will fall into place & we'll get in there & record. Mickey Finn: I like back in the day where you did a record & then there was a release date scheduled some time in the distant future & it's like, when we're done it'll be out, like, there's no need to wait, I don't want to wait for this season or that season...

Fernie: (does record company impersonation) Well, as soon as the demographics align... Billy: There a whole new way to sell it now & we've got to figure that out Rock N Roll Experience: Is Jetboy signed to a label or are you putting the new record out yourself?

Fernie Rodd: Both

Billy Rowe: We don't know yet, who knows?

Mickey Finn: We've been working with Parris & Cleopatra records, so who knows.

Fernie: The answer is yes, because Parris Records has released our compilations over the years, during that period of time where there was no Jetboy, that stuff came out...

Mickey: But, we don't wanna give out any extra money to anyone else & now adays you don't have to, so...

Rock N Roll Experience: Does Jetboy ever get sick of being tagged as a hair band?

Mickey: YES! Absolutely! Because we never were a hair band! We were a glam band! I'd like to think about those times where like, most of those bands from LA, the Sunset Strip, that era, they were still riding on the coat tails of more like Van Halen to where we were all about The Dolls & Hanoi & more street or alternative & so I don't really feel like we fit in with the hair bands back then & we still don't, but I'm fine with that, do you know what I mean? We'll do some of these select shows, but we are not trying to pigeonhole ourselves in that realm because it's not where we wanna be, we wanna blow this band up!

Fernie: Look, the fact of the matter is, we have hair

Billy: It was the name that they tagged that era as & the next was alternative or grunge, so basically we were part of that, but we were a glam band

Fernie: We are a little older now, so we're more like a Glum band (laughs)

Rock N Roll Experience: Is there anything else I haven't asked that you'd like to say?

Fernie: The single we are releasing is "We Believe to Be" & a song we are working on is a song called "Going Down Above the Clouds", that's the new Jetboy, so spread the word on that.

Billy: A band we really want to tour with is Hot Leg...It's Justin Hawkins from The Darkness new band...they rule!

Author: Bob Suehs