This festival was well worth the 6+ hour drive to Maryland from my hometown in Upstate New York. As a 17 year old who is obsessed with the 1980’s, I’m sure you can all imagine my excitement when I finally got to the venue and saw all the teased hair, leather and spandex pants on both men and women. I would’ve killed just to live a week in the 80’s, and I feel this festival is the closest I’ll ever get. One thing I really appreciated about this festival/venue in particular is the parking was free. I attended a 4 day festival in Wisconsin last year called Rock USA and the parking was over 20 dollars a day- which adds up to over 100 dollars just in ridiculous parking fees. The fact that parking costs weren’t a factor at M3 was pretty cool. The food at the venue was a little on the pricier side, however the venue allowed you to bring in one sealed water bottle (it can be ANY size, not just a 16 ounce- you could literally bring in a 2 liter and they’ll allow it) and they allowed you to bring in your own food as long as it was in a non-glass, clear container.
The opening band on the first day was 86 Bullets, whom I had never heard of prior to the festival. They we’re playing right as the doors we’re opening, so I didn’t get to catch their whole set, but from what I could hear they didn’t sound too bad! However, I’m not sure what happened towards the end of their set but while they were mid-song all of their sound cut out- from what I’m assuming whoever runs the festival cut their set because they went over the time limit. I never actually found out what happened, but that’s what it seemed like- however for all I know it could have just been some technical difficulties. Up next was fellow 17 year old rocker Gabbie Rae who I love- not just because we’re the same age but because she is so incredibly talented! She’s got a killer voice, and she performed three of her original songs and two covers which were “Last In Line” and “Neon Knights”. She cites one of her biggest influences as Ronnie James Dio, so make sure to check her out if you’re unfamiliar with what she’s doing. Right after Gabbie left the stage my dad and I had run to the merch booth to try and get some shirts and the lines were ridiculously long (and the were already out of a few sizes in some shirts). Enuff Z’ Nuff had come on while we were in line and we would have been horrified if we missed “Fly High Michelle” because for some reason there were only about 3 or 4 people working the booth. However we got our shirts and headed back to our seats and as we were leaving they started playing “Fly High Michelle”, so we missed most of their set but luckily we got to see our favorite song and another one after that. The vocals were great and so was their stage presence. Just a quick side note- I loved how fast the set changes were! This year everything was on one rotating stage, so while one band was performing the next was getting set up on the opposite side so there was no agonizing half hour to an hour wait in order to hear the next band. Anyways, next up was Britny Fox who I absolutely loved. It was another great performance by another great band- I was happy to see them play “Long Way To Love” which is one of my favorite Britny Fox songs and they closed out their set with “Girlschool” which appeared to be a crowd favorite. Following Britny Fox was Lynch Mob who I was very excited to see live. George Lynch is one of my favorite guitarists and Oni Logan is a ridiculously talented vocalist and I was so happy to see my friend Jimmy D’Anda killing it on the drums with them. The crowd loved when they sang hits like “Wicked Sensation” and “River of Love” but we really went crazy when they broke out into Dokken songs. They closed out their set with “Tooth and Nail” which really had everyone in the crowd singing along. Now, Vince Neil was up next and he did honestly what I expected- not much. I love Vince because he was so high energy and he always has been but at times it seemed as if he was almost too high energy. It appeared to my dad and I that he had some trouble getting through all of the songs, and he sang maybe half of the lyrics to each song he performed. I was expecting him to sing some of his solo stuff and maybe throw in “Dr.Feelgood” and “Wildside” here and there, but to my surprise the entire set was Motley Crue which I didn’t mind one bit. Despite his trouble getting through some of the songs I will say that he had the best crowd reaction out of the first day and maybe even the second day. I can’t remember exactly but it seemed like all the clapping and cheering for Vince was much more powerful than any other band. And closing out the show on day one was the hometown heroes Kix who I was very excited to see for the first time. Steve Whiteman is not only an amazing vocalist but he is so incredibly funny and has a ton of onstage charisma, he cracked jokes after almost every song and had thousands of people laughing. They played my three favorite songs of theirs “Blow My Fuse”, “Cold Blood” and of course their hit ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes”- all of which had the crowd on their feet and singing along.
Opening up day two was Every Mothers Nightmare who I, again, wasn’t too familiar with but from what I had heard people really liked them. They put on a good show, and I was happy to discover and support a new 80’s band! Next up were the epiphany of sleaze rock, Faster Pussycat. What can I say about these guys that hasn’t already been said? They embody the rock and roll attitude, especially at the beginning of their set when they came out decked in pajamas because it wasn’t even noon. They only had about 20 or 25 minutes to play, which in my personal opinion I would have loved to see a longer set for them! Taime smoked cigarettes for the entire set, didn’t have any shoes on and by “House of Pain” he was laying on the floor with a pillow. God, I love that band. After them was Heavens Edge and I was stoked to hear “Skin To Skin” and “Find Another Way” live. They completely met my expectations- the vocals were 100% and they matched that with 100% energy on the stage. Now, I spend a lot of my time butchering the vocals of this next band because the singer is so impeccable on the albums, so I was interested to see how his voice held up. And of course, Miljenko Matijevic of Steelheart’s voice translated beautifully live. Those high notes in “Everybody Loves Eileen” and “I’ll Never Let You Go” are no joke, and I’m gonna be honest I didn’t expect him to be able to hold them for as long as he did. Usually when there are crazy high notes like that in songs the singer just briefly sings them, but Miljenko really sounded like he did in 1990. Steelheart put on a great show, I unfortunately missed some of it due to miscellaneous running around but I heard the whole thing and it sounded great. They closed out their set with “We All Die Young”, which my dad and I are most familiar with because of the movie “Rockstar” so it was a pleasant surprise to have them sing that live, too. Adler was up next and I was so happy to see Steven doing so well! He was killing it out there, and so was the vocalist Jacob Bunton. He had a very 1980’s attitude, and a great voice! His voice got a little shaky when he jumped into the crowd, but that’s pretty expected. They performed some originals and Guns N’ Roses hits like “Mr.Brownstone”, “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Sweet Child O’ Mine”- of which during “Sweet Child O’ Mine” they brought out guest guitarist Ace Von Johnson from Faster Pussycat and guest vocalist Gabbie Rae. Another high energy band who clearly gave 100%. I don’t even know what to say about these next guys that hasn’t already been said. Y&T played shortly after Adler and their one of those bands that never gives a bad performance. I will admit, it was a little weird for me seeing them without Brad Lang on bass however Aaron Leigh did do a good job filling in and he meshed very well with the rest of the guys. My only complaint is that they didn’t play “Don’t Stop Runnin'” but due to tight time constraints, I will forgive it. You could tell a big chunk of the crowd were die hard Y&T fans, which I always love seeing. After Y&T was Stephen Pearcy and I will admit my Ratt obsession was in full swing. “Round and Round”, “Wanted Man”, “You’re In Love”- I was in love with Stephen’s set! I wish he could have had more time, I believe he only played five, maybe six songs, and when he finished his set I was in disbelief that his time was up. Unlike Vince Neil’s performance, this actually sounded very similar to Ratt besides a few improvisations here and there. I’m not sure if Vince was purposefully trying to shy away from the Motley Crue sound, but it’s just an observation I made. Up next was Firehouse and as some of you may know, their guitarist Bill Leverty is a huge reason why this website actually exists! I expected greatness from these guys and they delivered without question. I got so overwhelmed and excited when they broke out into “Reach For The Sky” I would be lying if I said I didn’t almost shed a tear. The entire band is so amazingly talented, they had me singing along and dancing their entire set. After Firehouse was Quiet Riot, and I’ll admit with Frankie being the only original member I was a little nervous about how their sound would be. But again, I was impressed! The vocals were great, as was the guitar, bass and drums. The crowd really erupted when these guys came out, and I think that they got some of the best crowd reaction of the day- especially when they sang “Metal Health”. Slaughter was up next and I’ve said this multiple times on the internet and I will say it again here- if anyone tells you Mark Slaughter can’t sing anymore they’re liars and cannot be trusted. Even after jumping into the crowd he could still pull those crazy high notes like it was no big deal. I did notice, however, besides the singer of course, the entire band was identical to Vince Neil’s the night prior. Not sure if Vince was using Slaughter’s band or if Slaughter was using Vince’s band- who knows, but I found it interesting that they used the same people for two different acts. The next act, like Y&T, I’ve seen tons of times and they never disappoint me. There’s just something about the charisma that both Dave Meniketti of Y&T and Jack Blades of Night Ranger have while on stage that makes them so entertaining to watch. Night Ranger played a lot of their hits, and the title track off their latest album “High Road” which is a great song if you’ve never heard it. I love Night Ranger and the crowd loved Night Ranger- they have great onstage chemistry and crowd interaction which always makes for a fun show. After those guys was Tom Keifer who the crowd loved. He came out giving 100% and it stayed that way for the entirety of his set until he walked off that stage. He played some Cinderella, some solo stuff and did two covers- “Purple Rain” and “With A Little Help From My Friends”. The crowd really seemed to love him and from what I could tell from reading reviews of his solo shows he always puts on a great show. His band was great too, they seemed like a whole family up on the stage. He’s another one who’s voice hasn’t changed all that much and can still hit notes like it’s nobody’s business. This next band I had seen once before and I was thrilled to see them again. Queensryche had taken the stage right as it started raining, and it pained me to see people leaving due to a few rain drops! Todd LaTorre is beyond talented as a vocalist, and it’s almost uncanny how similar to the records his voice can get. I could see their show a hundred times and not get sick of them- I also wish they had some more set time. They played my favorite song off of their debut EP “Queen of the Ryche” as well as some of their ‘go to’ hits like “Jet City Woman”, “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Empire”, among others. I really enjoyed the fact that they added “Screaming In Digital” to their set, which was a song I had not previously seen them perform live. They’re truly a power house of heavy metal music, and I loved seeing countless people headbanging and just going ballistic over them. Closing out the show on day two was Tesla who was definitely a crowd favorite of the day, but due to rain a lot of people left early on during their set. The vocals were great, everything sounded like it was right off the record. The crowd was on their feet the whole time, and everyone was singing along to hits like “Signs”, “Modern Day Cowboy” and “What You Give”.
The M3 Rock Festival was for lack of a better term, amazing. Two days of talented performers, great people and great fun- I will definitely be attending in 2017.