M3 Rock Festival 2011 is in the books. This was the third year for the event and I've attended every one to date. M3 is held at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland. This was the first year the event was extended beyond one day – the special Kix-off party was Friday night. Of course, Kix headlined. The attendance was way more than I expected for Friday – 10,000 easy. It was cold and rain threatened and I expected some people to stay away. I think pretty much everyone ignored the weather and headed out to rock.
I really can't speak to Black Mambooza because I was too busy walking around and talking to people during their set. Jetboy sounded good, featuring their new singer DK Revelle. Since fellow BBG! writer Brian loves Jetboy, I will let him comment more about their set. I will say this: Brian was very excited to see them and we made sure to be in our seats in time for their set.
Phil Lewis' L.A. Guns were up next. The thing that strikes me about them is that is dawned on me that I no longer care to argue over which version of the band is better. It just is what it is at this point. Phil sounded good – from what I could make out anyway. There were some major sound issues going on and for a lot of the set I kept leaning over to people and asking “What is he singing?” Seriously, at some points I had no idea what song was being performed and keep in mind – I have every L.A. Guns song memorized. This was both frustrating and disappointing for me. At any rate, L.A. Guns played the hits you would expect and ended with “The Ballad of Jayne.” This was an odd end and not planned – they were cut off (I think “Rip and Tear” was cut). I'm not sure how it happened, but the fest was behind by this point in the show – just a couple bands in! At one point, Lewis came out with some sparklers on his head. As in, he was wearing a construction-hat type thing with lit sparklers shoved in the top. I'm not sure why other than the fact that this was cheaper than pyro or something.
By the time L.A. Guns were done, the pavilion seats were just packed. The girls behind me were jumping around, singing along and having a good time. When Warrant came on, they screamed “We love you Jani!” Christian and I just turned a little towards them and laughed. Why ruin their fun by correcting them?!
In all seriousness, Warrant with Robert Mason were incredibly good. Probably the best Warrant show I've ever seen. The sound was better than it was for L.A. Guns but still not perfect. Warrant had stage banners made promoting their new album Rockaholic and they were also selling it in the merch booth. Robert only mentioned the album was for sale one time, for which I am grateful. When a band pimps their merch too much, it makes me nervous. Think of all the Warrant hits and you've got the set, plus a couple new tunes including “Sex Ain't Love.” The crowd did not want to hear new Warrant, however. I swear, at one point it seemed like people were booing when Robert mentioned the new stuff. Who wasn't booing? Those girls behind me who love Jani Lane! They were screaming for “Cherry Pie.” They got it, of course. It was the last song. Warrant also played “Uncle Tom's Cabin” and I watched Christian sing along to it even though he didn't think I was looking at him (ha). Robert worked the crowd better than I remember and he has tons of energy. I think working with him is giving the original guys in Warrant a shot in the arm – and that's good. I recently interviewed Jerry Dixon and that will be on Noisecreep too. We talked all about Rockaholic and more.
But let's be honest. Everyone knows Kix is my band and Friday for me was all about Kix. The band finally got the M3 headline spot they deserve! Kix opened with “Ring Around Rosie” and the sound was distorted. It was too low for a lot of the set. This made me crazy. More songs: “Atomic Bombs,” Lie Like a Rug,” “Sex,” “Don't Close Your Eyes,” “Hot Wire,” “Girl Money” “Cold Shower” and more. The set was so good because the band was so excited to be headlining. Steve Whiteman kept saying how scared and nervous he was and how he couldn't believe that many people would come out to see them. It was adorable. Kix actually got to have a proper encore with many songs! The band even came forward and did an acoustic version of “For Shame.” Merriweather has a strict curfew of 11 p.m. but Kix played until 11:30 and the crowd loved every minute. The band ended with “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” and Steve's classic rap. There was an over-head balloon drop and Steve had a giant mallet that he pounded balloons with from the stage. The length of the set and the epicness of “Hot Wire” (10,000 people pounding their feet in unison) made this my favorite Kix performance of all time. I loved it all: the stage banter, the choreography, the genuine happiness and Brian's signature polka dot tops. That is all. Day two review tomorrow. I'll have a photo gallery too.