Apr 26, 2014

M3 Rock Fest 2014 (day #2)

By Bob Suehs

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M3 ROCK FEST 2014

April 26, 2014 (Day #2)

Columbia, MD

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Day #1 of the M3 Rock Fest was the drunken party night where everyone looked good because it was dark but Day #2 of the 2014 M3 Rock Fest was the hung over next day where the sunlight showed you what you were partying with the night prior!

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I arrived when Keel were finishing up their set and the band sounded like Keel! What I mean by that statement is, I kinda know who they are but was never really exposed to any of their music. When I hear the name Keel it’s a nameless/faceless band to me. The first set I caught on this day was John Corabi’s band on the 2nd stage.

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First & foremost I have to give Merriweather props for building a massive 2nd stage that puts the previous 2nd stage to shame! Complete with a large stage, massive lights & an impressive LED video screen, the new 2nd stage is set in the woods and is a much larger stage than most bands on this bill have played in many years!

I was expecting John Corabi to take the stage with an acoustic guitar in hand but to my surprise he came out rockin’ with a full band that featured his son on drums. “Outlaw” by The Scream sounded amazing and John’s looks have changed drastically over the past few years. John went from looking like an LA Metal guy to a San Fran hippie; the thing no one can dispute is that Corabi’s voice sounded amazing! Corabi’s set closed with “Hooligan’s Holiday” by Motley Crue.

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Jack Russell’s Great White were next on the main stage and they sounded great. Despite all of Jack’s health issues he can still deliver a good set and his band sounded great as well.

Femme Fatale followed on the 2nd stage and I was surprised to see Femme Fatale is an all female group now! I knew 2 songs from the bands previous incarnation but this version of the band is an entirely new band. In reality they should just let the “Femme Fatale” name go & start fresh with a new name because this is NOT the same old school Femme Fatale from the 80’s. I’m not sure how the crowd felt about Femme Fatale because I didn’t see alot of reaction when the band played their set.

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Stryper were next on the main stage and what cracked me up before they even took the stage was their set list because they wrote down “Band Photo (Back To The Audience)” as the last song. Stryper delivered a nearly perfect set that was practically flawless. I know Stryper takes alot of flack for their religious beliefs BUT if you give them a chance and check out their live show you can’t deny how good they are in terms of their musicianship. “Shout It Out Loud” by KISS was tossed in the middle of their set and I thought that was actually a bad choice because “Heaven & Hell” is probably the best cover I think they’ve ever done.

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Jake E. Lee & Red Dragon Cartel were next on the 2nd stage and I won’t lie, I was just a little let down by the bands overall performance at this show.

Jake actually set up his own gear and came out before the show to test his own rig which surprised me considering he’s one of heavy metal’s most celebrated guitarists. During his line check Jake jammed “Supernaut” by Black Sabbath and when Red Dragon took the stage they opened with “The Ultimate Sin” which didn’t impress me. The bands singer did little to improve the song and the bands rhythm section just didn’t cut it. “High Wire” originally by Badlands was performed and all I will say is, the vocals I heard on this day did NOT match those of Ray Gillen by any means. The bulk of the Red Dragon set was material off the bands debut record and the band did little to impress me after witnessing a really tight performance by Stryper!

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Jake also made a HUGE mistake by wearing a shirt that was unbuttoned way too far because his man boobs were predominantly displayed through most of the bands set. After Red Dragon’s set Jake signed autographs for fans and for some reason he took the scarf he wore onstage and wrapped his head with it.

Queensryche were next on the main stage and I will admit that the band made the right move firing Tate & hiring the new guy because vocally Tate hasn’t sounded like that in years and the band has a renewed energy with the new singer. I will admit that Tate IS an irreplaceable part of Queensryche though.

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Autograph was another low point in the show because how many “hits” did Autograph really have? My opinion on the Autograph set was that the band only had one song most people knew so they could have allowed Autograph 5 minutes on the main stage to simply play “Turn Up The Radio” and then they could leave because I won’t sugar coat it, no one was watching Autograph’s set because they only had 2 original members & one song anyone knew...the rest was total filler!

Sebastian Bach came out to “Slave To The Grind” and lookd a tad chubby. “Monkey Business” was one particular song that sounded a tad rough in my opinion but he nailed “I Remember You” & “18 and Life”.

Sebastian was the best frontman of the day but I think Stryper were probably the best “band” in terms of sound not to mention Stryper was the only band with all it’s original members! During Sebastian Bach’s set VIRUS from Device/Dope was on the side of the stage.

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La Guns took the 2nd stage with “No Mercy” followed by “Sex Action” and “Never Enough” but to be blunt with you I don’t think this version of the band is as solid as previous versions because Tracii will ALWAYS be the guitars in LA Guns with Stacey being 2nd runner up. Stacey is the only guy besides Tracii to do the classics justice. The current guitarist in LA Guns adds his own style to the bands classic material....Some stuff he covers well while others he half asses his way through. The tragedy of the LA Guns set was that it started to pour rain and a large chunk of the crowd left the 2nd stage area to take shelter from the torrential down pour!

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Night Ranger impressed me when they took the main stage because I had no clue they were such amazing performers! Gillis is a beast on guitar and Blades is a short powerhouse on both bass & vocals!

Tossed in the bands set were 2 Damn Yankee’s covers; “Coming of Age” & “High Enough” which sounded amazing.

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Slaughter headlined the 2nd stage and I will admit that I didn’t think Slaughter were actually big enough to headline that stage. The initial reaction of the crowd was that if it had continued to rain as hard as it did towards the end of the LA Guns set the bulk of the crowd would have probably skipped Slaughter’s set. Slaughter lucked out and the rain stopped for their hour long set which naturally closed with “Fly To The Angels” & “Up All Nite”. Mark took the stage with a beer in his hand and within 10 seconds of being onstage he began tossing out guitar picks to the crowd. By the 5th song in the set Mark had jumped off the stage and sang a few songs in the middle of the crowd. The sad irony was that no one could see Mark because the 2nd stage was in the woods with no real spot lights to shine on the crowd so unless you were in the middle of the crowd where Mark was you were stuck watching Dana & the others play while you heard Mark’s voice but had no clue where he was.

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Tesla was an interesting choice for headliner this year because I’ve never really considered them a hair band that you’d lump in with Poison or Warrant. Tesla sounded great and I have to give them props for keeping the crowd captivated enough to actually stay because last year the headliner was Bret Michaels & mid way through his set a large portion of the crowd had left!

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Tesla debuted a new song called “MP3” which is off their forthcoming new record which you can buy in May. Frank Hannon’s guitar playing has always inspired me because his style ranges from hard rock to southern rock with a touch of country tossed in subtly; live Hannon delivers blistering solo’s and playing that’s soulful without all the metal clichés.

The 2014 M3 Rock Fest ended on a high note despite the rain showers on both days and I feel like the best set from this years show was definitely Lita Ford’s.

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Great White Set List: All Over, Desert Moon, Mista Bone, Save All Your Love, Guitar Solo, Lady Red Light, Rock Me, Once Bitten

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STRYPER Set List: Abyss, To Hell With The Devil, Rock That Makes Me Roll, Calling On You, Free, More Than A Man, Legacy, No More Hell To Pay, Shout It Out Loud, The Way, Soldiers Under Command, Band Photo

NIGHT RANGER Set List: Touch of Madness, Sing Me Away, Lay It On Me, 4 AM, Coming Of Age, High Road, Eddie, High Enough, When U Close Your Eyes, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Sister Christian, Rock In America

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TESLA Set List: I Wanna Live, Hang Tough, Heaven’s Trail, Mama’s Fool, Into The Now, MP3, The Way It Is, What You Give, Love Song, Signs, Gettin’ Better, Modern Day Cowboy, Lil Suzie

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