May 2, 2015

M3 Rock Fest 2015 - Merriweather Post

Category: Live Reviews

M3 Rock Fest 2015

May 1 & 2, 2015

Columbia, MD

Merriweather Post Pavilion

The yearly M3 Rock Fest is a random blur of all things hair metal. The 2015 Installment started on Friday, May 1 when local rockers Korupt took the stage at 4 PM.

I arrived in time to catch Quiet Riot play the main stage at 6:50 PM. I will admit that they were much better than I had expected! Jizzy Pearl from Love/Hate is the current singer for Quiet Riot and he does a damn good job paying tribute to what Kevin Dubrow created. I had expected Quiet Riot to be awkward without Dubrow but in all honesty the current line-up of Quiet Riot is the tightest version since the Metal Health era!

“Metal Health” was naturally the closer for Quiet Riot’s set and almost every fan in attendance was screaming along to the chant “Bang Your Head!” which was a beautiful thing to witness!

Quiet Riot set the bar for which all other bands performing afterwards had to top and Dokken definitely dropped the ball!

Dokken’s set started shaky with technical issues, volume levels which dropped too low, and at times there were no guitar in the live mix. When Don Dokken took the stage he looked like a chubbier version of Bruce Jenner post female transformation and his vocals sounded weak at best.

“Dream Warriors” was performed on this night and Don prefaced the track by stating that he stopped performing it many years prior due to it being too hard for him to perform vocally. “Dream Warriors” was actually one of the better songs performed because Don knew to lower his vocals to accommodate for his lower pitch which gave the song a slightly different feel.

KIX were the headliner for Friday night and they blew Dokken off the stage without even trying!!!

KIX played a 90 minute set which offered up everything you’d expect from the band right down to the balloon toss at the end of “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah”. The show was scheduled to end at 10:40 PM but ended 10 minutes earlier at 10:30 PM.

M3 Fest 2015 Day #2 started at 11 AM with Bad Seed Rising opening the main stage but I didn’t arrive until 1 PM at which time I met up with Joey Tempest from Europe for an interview. After the interview ended Joey told me to go out and catch Vixen because he had seen them not too long ago and they were still really good live. Listening to Joey I made my way to the main stage to catch the last 3 songs from Vixen and indeed they did sound and look great.

I was impressed with Black N Blue’s live sound on the 2nd stage but ended up leaving their set early to catch up with friends. At this point M3 has established a regular crowd which attends the festival every year which creates an almost “reunion” like environment where you catch up with and run into old friends. What almost always happens is conversations get long winded and you wind up missing small pieces of the show in favor of catching up with friends who you only see at the show once a year.

LA Guns took the main stage at 2:35 PM and opened with “No Mercy” which set the pace for their high energy set. Tawni came out and danced with Phil Lewis briefly but what annoyed me about the LA Guns set was how Michael does not play the Tracii era material faithfully. Michael’s reinterpretations of Tracii solo’s are piss poor as far as I’m concerned. At first I thought I was the only one annoyed with Michael’s guitar playing, but after talking to others at the show I realized it wasn’t just me. Stacy Blades was consistent in the way he covered Tracii’s solo’s and he played them as they were written because the older fans do not want to hear “new” solo’s tossed into classics like “Rip N Tear” or “Never Enough”, they want to hear the songs performed how they were written! I have no issue with Michael adding his own style to the classic LA Guns material IF it’s done within certain limitations so that the original solo’s are still there. LA Guns set the standard for Day #2 by which all other bands would have to top and Bang Tango played after LA Guns.

The S.S. Leste featured a 2nd guitarist for this show and it was none other than Drew Fortier who you might know as the guy who filmed the soon to be released “Bang Tango Movie”. Rowan and Drew delivered a twin Epiphone attack and the addition of a 2nd guitarist definitely made the sound thicker BUT after watching the “Bang Tango Movie” I realized that without Knight & Kyle in the band it’s just not Bang Tango.

“Wrap My Wings” & “Soul To Soul” were the highlights of the Bang Tango set. Krokus were up next on the main stage and I’ll admit that I never really knew much about Krokus. “Long Stick Goes Boom” always sounded like an AC/DC rip off to me. When I asked various people at the show if they knew much about Krokus or how many members were original I was greeted with the same response, “I have no clue, I was never really into the band.”

Krokus sounded good, they were older gentleman and I’m not so sure they fit into the “hair band” genre but were a nice addition to the bill because they’d never played M3 before.

The vendor booths were minimal and the most interesting was the Chuck Levin Music store booth which featured an Eddie Van Halen “Frankenstein” model guitar as well as many “demo” guitars concert goers could jam on. I’ll admit that I indulged myself and played an EVH model guitar which is why I missed the first few songs from Bang Tango!

Winery Dogs were up next on the 2nd stage and musically they put to shame almost every band on the bill! Sheehan is a bass player like no other, Kotzen has an amazingly soulful voice with guitar chops for days, and Portnoy is a beast on the drums! Eddie Trunk brought Winery Dogs out and stood on the side of the stage for their set. Sadly Trunk spent most of their set looking at his phone of talking to people rather than enjoying the band onstage. Winery Dogs were the best musicians of the fest hands down and they sounded superb!

Jack Russel and Eddie Trunk introduced Warrant. Russell told a story about finding blonde weaves in the back of the bus while touring with Warrant back in the day and then joked that they went from being hair bands to hairless bands. Warrant are a great live band and definitely found a solid replacement for the late Mr. Lane....they were strong from start to finish and for their finale they brought out Jack Russell and Black N Blue’s singer to sing “Cherry Pie”. You would think that since Bobbi Brown was there that she might join the band onstage for said song BUT she was nowhere to be found.

Tawni & Bobbi introduced several bands and charged fans for pics and autographs at merch tables. The funny thing is that they were only really know for “being” with rockstars who put them in music videos back in the day. Tawni’s face is looking heavily stretched from too many plastic surgeries and Bobbi looks nothing like her past self.

“Summer Time Girls” was what I always based my dislike of Y&T on; after witnessing the band perform on the 2nd stage I have to admit that they are a really good live band and their guitar playing impressed me.

Queensryche were up next on the main stage and their fans are so divided when it comes to Tate & the rest of Queensryche. I will admit that I didn’t want to like the new version of Queensryche without Tate BUT when you see them perform it’s undeniable how amazing the new version of the band is and how much better Todd is on vocals than Tate!

Queensryche killed it from start to finish and there’s no way you could walk away from their set unimpressed!

Tom Keifer headlined the 2nd stage under the cloudy moonlit sky. The entire wooded area was packed with rock n roll fans waiting for Cinderella classics. Keifer’s set was mostly Cinderella material with only a few of his solo songs tossed in. The interesting part of Keifer’s set was how it went 20 minutes over it’s scheduled time. In previous years if a band’s set went too long the power was cut! Keifer’s set bled 20 minutes into Europe’s set which caused a large portion of the crowd to miss the first few songs of Europe’s set!

Tom Keifer Set List: Falling Apart, It’s Not Enough, Different Light, Save Me, Shake Me, Heartbreak Station, Don’t Know What You Got, Nobody’s Fool, Solid Ground, Night Songs, Coming Home, Shelter Me, Little Help From My Friends, Gypsy Road

Europe sounded amazing and Joey Tempest is an absolute ham onstage. There were moments where Joey would put his mic in the face of fans and expect them to sing lyrics back to him; many times the mic in face trick was met with a smile or no response because not everyone knew the lyrics or wanted to sing back to Joey.

I had my doubts about Europe as a headliner because I didn’t know if they could keep the crowd around by the end of the night. The year Bret Michaels performed as headliner much of the crowd left early and to my surprise that was not the case with Europe because the bulk of the crowd stayed to witness Europe perform.

Naturally “The Final Countdown” was the set closer and Joey promised the crowd that they would be back soon. M3 Rock Fest 2015 was a fun time and most fans left the event counting down the days till M3 Fest 2016!



Author: Bob Suehs