Festivals are my thing. I love them. I like the idea of seeing a lot of bands in one shot but the best part is seeing friends. At each festival I attend, I get to spend a significant amount of time with people that are very important to me. Even better when I get to meet someone face to face for the first time. From a friendship perspective, M3 2010 was great. Not only did I get to hang with some close buds - I got to stay with them as well, thanks to a generous offer from BBG! friends the "NirVranas." To the rest: thanks so much for approaching me and having a chat. Music is best appreciated live and in the company of good people.
At this point in my life, I don't care about being down front for every song. There's something to be said for hanging back with friends and relaxing. After all, that's what summer is all about. M3 is held at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. (For those not familiar with the area, that's very close to Baltimore). Being a one-day festival with a strong lineup in a major city helped make the second edition of M3 a rousing success. In fact, attendance was easily doubled over the 2009 event. From what I heard, around 12,000 - 15,000 attended this year...and that's huge.
I only went to the VIP area one time to speak with Kix but the meet n' greet line was nice. It moved slow, but that's life. People pay money, they want their face time I guess.
A big drawback to M3 this year over last was the heat. Last year, the event was much earlier (in May) so the weather was true perfection. Yesterday, the sun was brutal and literally made walking up and down the hill between stages less desirable. I know plenty of people who just decided to stay in their seats as the day wore on because the heat was just too much and the stages too far apart.
Speaking of stages, the schedule didn't mention much overlap but there was definite "sound bleed." In fact, there was a ton of overlap, meaning it was basically impossible to see full sets of every band on the bill. Because of this, there was a constant stream of people coming and going between the Pavilion (main stage) and side stage area. By the time I'd get to the side stage, a band would already be going and I'd be far back and couldn't see anything.
There was a hassle with my passes and I had to go to every gate (misinformation) to get into the venue, thus I missed really seeing Jetboy. I've seen them before though and I know they deliver live and I heard they were absolutely amazing at M3. I believe that. Rob over at Hard Rock Hideout spoke to the guys in Jetboy after their set and said they were happy and cordial. See a video of Jetboy's performance.
I've seen Z02 before and I dig them. I liked their cover of Rush's "Tom Saywer"although JT from Hard Rock Nights said it best: "If you've only got 30 minutes and you want audience exposure, why do a cover?" JT is probably right.
I watched both Trixter and L.A. Guns from afar. I noticed the band had special stage banners made that said "Trixter World Tour 2010" so I guess the band is going overseas soon (or maybe they already have and I missed it) but I thought that was interesting. They played a few songs, obviously closing with "Give It To Me Good" and overall the crowd seemed into the band, singing along. I've read a few forums with people saying Trixter was their surprise band of the day. When I saw them at Rocklahoma 2008 I thought they were solid, so this doesn't stun me but I don't think they were the best band on the bill.
Everyone knows I'm partial to the Tracii Guns version of L.A. Guns -- and the Phil Lewis version played M3. The band sounded good, and performed the songs I like including "Never Enough," "Rip and Tear," "Ballad of Jayne" and "Sex Action." My friend Todd (you know him as KixRules) came to visit after L.A. Guns and a giant battle ensued over the two versions of the band. As always, the argument ended in a truce but we still don't see eye to eye on the issue and I don't think it was necessary for Phil Lewis to say something like "Thanks for partying with the real L.A. Guns."
I like Winger. Always have. They are a band of true musicians and I love hearing them live. I thought they sounded great at M3! The set was a little backward because some hits such as "Can't Get Enough" and "Down Incognito" were early when new stuff off Karma was sort of in the middle, then there was "Headed for a Heartbreak" which shows off the amazing guitarist Reb Beach and of course the end with "Seventeen." The problem, I think, was the stage overlap - fans were missing some of the "biggies" because of walking and sound creep. Of course, that could have been Kip Winger's main plan to give his new stuff maximum exposure. Nevertheless, I appreciate the fact that Winger plays new material without fear. I love that about them.
Ok. So there was some side stage action, including Mass and Bang Tango before Kix, but I was too busy pacing and looking for a spot to watch Kix. I did watch one Bang Tango song and I was surprised at how big the crowd was because most people were pacing like me: when Kix plays Baltimore, you pay attention.
The M3 promoters let the "people who traveled the furthest" announce Kix. The only problem was that I was with the single person who traveled the longest distance for M3: Christian! Sure, an Australian couple got to do the announcing...but Christian is from Tasmania, which is truly the end of the earth! Because he purchased his VIP ticket from a friend, he wasn't counted in the "distance pool" so I'm setting the record straight now: Christian wins. So there.
All that aside, the dirty boys of the underground did great, as always. I'm biased and I don't care. They did flub up the beginning of "Sex" but even that was cute. Singer Steve Whiteman used the mistake to say the band needed to practice once in awhile. There was no set surprises here: if you've seen Kix, you know what you're going to get, which is a solid rock show. There was "Cold Blood," "Girl Money" "Cold Shower," "Don't Close Your Eyes" and of course "Yeah, Yeah, Yeah." The sound, as always, was perfectly mixed. At the end of the set, balloons were thrown. Steve made jokes. The lawn danced, the pit was sweaty, people were happy. Now, let me say I was standing next to a group of guys -- complete strangers. One said to another "Who are these guys? They are good." and I couldn't help it...I interjected myself into their conversation.
Me: "You've never heard of Kix?" At this point, I'm aghast and sort of staring.
Guy 1: "Nope."
Me: "Are you from here?"
Guy 1: "Nope. Ohio."
Me: "I'm from Ohio! Dayton!"
Guy 1: "I went to the University of Dayton."
Me: "I went there for grad school!"
Guy 2: "I saw Kix at Hammerjacks when I was 14. They made me pick up the guitar. Dude (to Guy 1), just listen to their songs. Appreciate it."
This went on and on and I either made a new friend or annoyed some strangers. Whatever, shows are about connections. Truly, I was stunned to find someone at a Kix show in Baltimore that had never heard of the band before. I hope the band earned a new fan that day.
During "Cold Shower," it's customary that Steve pop an umbrella and he and bassist Mark Schenker sing under it. Well, the prop umbrella was intentionally broken, so instead Steve and Mark donned shower caps. I gotta admit, they didn't look pretty in said caps.
After the set, I got in line to talk to the band and I showed them a cassette single of "Girl Money" that my friend Johnnie gave me earlier in the day. I had them sign it and I swear each guy rolled his eyes at me. Oh, and Brian Forsythe is still hot. Whatever. That's not professional but dammit, I'm human too.
I missed basically all of Vince Neil because I was in the Kix line. My husband was down front for Vince and he thought "Live Wire" and "Dr. Feelgood" sounded pretty good. He was trying to take pictures through the fog, but that didn't work out too well. I guess Vince burned through a couple ear monitors during the set. Since I wasn't watching, I can't attest to much of what was going on except I know it was loud and smokey.
I'm keeping it real: Nelson with Mark Slaughter was fun. I've seen Nelson before so I was most interested to see how Mark did on "co-lead" guitar. Honestly, it wasn't that bad. Mark sang a little backup, but for the most part, he just played away and seemed happy in the process. Nelson did some new songs as well as "After the Rain" and "Love and Affection." Say what you want: there was a massive sing-a-long during "Love and Affection" and I noticed more than one guy jumping up and down.
Cinderella, quite simply, ruled M3. I mean, truly. Just phenomenal. I thought they were great at Rocklahoma but they were so much better at M3. The sound was perfection. The band was admittedly sluggish to start, but once they got going and got moving, it was on. Tom Keifer sounded amazing - his voice is there, spot on. My favorite is always "Night Songs" and it was great at M3. My girl Kari was down front, rapt in the experience. Like Kix, Cinderella keeps a consistent set list, including "Push Push," "Coming Home," "Don't Know What You Got ('Til Its Gone)," "Nobody's Fool," "Shake Me" and more. At Rocklahoma, the band had a giant electronic board that said "Cinderella" but not at M3. I guess it's possible that Cinderella was using part of ZZ Top's staging at Rocklahoma but I just assumed I'd be seeing that expensive "banner" all summer. The stage set-up at M3 was bare bones, no frills, just the band. Tom wore his top hat, which I thought was great. The crowd was eating it up too: it was clear, a ton of people showed up to see Cinderella. I think they tied Kix for the best performance of the day.
In the meantime, Warrant closed out the side stage. I wandered over because singer Robert Mason is awesome. His voice is strong and clear and he's just a nice guy. Once again, I was shoved to the back and my short little legs weren't working for me. I kept moving around, trying to find a better spot. I literally could not see anything. I'm talking, not even the top of a head. It was infuriating but the band sounded awesome. Just incredibly tight and I have to admit, I was impressed. I saw this version of Warrant last year at Rocklahoma and they were good - but at M3 they were on. My only complaint is over the useless intro tape. It's a pointless time-waster. Just get on stage and play because that's what everyone wants! All the expected Warrant songs were performed. Dare I say Robert sounds better than Jani Lane while he was in his prime? No matter the singer, when "Cherry Pie" comes on, people go nuts. It's like a gut reaction or something. "Cherry Pie" is far from being Warrant's best song but it's like a Pavlovian reaction: hear it and you move.
The Scorpions went on about 35 minutes late. Lead singer Klaus Meine was sick and he was mad over the sound issues. The Scorps had a cool stage setup with a raised drum kit and some fog and lots of lights and video. The band sounded good but the entire bit felt a little stilted to me. I'll give the band slack though: I can't imagine having to perform sick and if Klaus had the flu as rumored, I say give the man an award! Still, I'm sure Klaus was getting help from some canned vocals. I mean, how could he not? He admitted he barely had a voice. Vince Neil came out and sang "Another Piece of Meat" with the band and that was cool! Those sort of experiences are what festivals are all about and I was glad I got to see it live with my own two eyes. By this time, I was sitting on a bench, rubbing a swollen ankle. Oh yes. Standing and walking for roughly 12 hours (and not even counting the hours of walking around Washington, D.C. the night before) took a toll on my body. By the time the Scorps got around to "Big City Nights" and "Rock You Like a Hurricane" I felt like I'd been hit by a bus or something. I'm glad I get to see the Scorpions again next month at Rock n' America. Hopefully Klaus will be feeling better and I won't have a swollen ankle. It would be nice to try and get a pick or something since this is the farewell tour.
I met Sam Dunn, the documentary filmmaker, in the parking lot before the show and he told me, Kari and Christian about his new project for VH1 Classic. That was awesomely cool. I also got to briefly talk with Eddie Trunk. I met the one and only Metalboy!, our new writer Brian (yes, we'd never met in person), had a cool hang with the famous DJ Will of KNAC and hugged a ton of people in and around the Shiprocked tent, all thanks to Captain Alan for letting that be an "unofficial gathering spot." Basically, it was an awesome day. I can't wait for next year.