April 29 & 30, 2016
The M3 Rock Fest has become a yearly ritual for those who love 80’s hard rock and metal. The show is not all about the bands though; the actual show is walking through the crowd and experiencing the old heads who are re-living their youth, drinking heavily, and essentially showing the kids how to party.
This year’s show was a tad different from previous years due in part to renovations taking place throughout the venue. The 2016 version of M3 featured only one stage instead of the usual 2 stages. The main stage at Merriweather rotates and lowered the downtime time between sets to just around 5 minutes.
On Friday I arrived as Enuff Z Nuff were finishing up. From the front gates “New Thing” sounded solid but vocally seemed a little lacking. Britney Fox was the first band I saw on Friday and my gut reaction to their set was that they sounded great BUT were not Britney Fox! Without Dean on vocals and Michael on guitar it was only a Britney Fox cover band. Original Britney Fox bassist Billy Childs is still with the band and his fashion is best described as typical “dad” attire.
Lynch Mob took the stage next and I was quite surprised to see George Lynch onstage setting his own gear up and doing his own line check. George Lynch is still one of the most versatile shredders from that era and his ability has not diminished in the least bit. Lynch Mob were the best set of Friday in my opinion and when they ripped into a cover of Dokken’s “Into The Fire” there was excitement surging through the entire crowd! Oni sang the Dokken songs way better than Don Dokken ever could! The funniest moment in their set was when they did band member introductions and they introduced their drummer as “The Bullet Boy” and played a small portion of “For The Love Of Money”.
Lynch Mob Set List: 21st Century Man, She's Evil, River of Love, Believers, Heaven Comes Down, Into The Fire, Wicked, Tooth and Nail
Vince Neil is essentially in his “Elvis - The Vegas Years” era in terms of his career and looks these days. Vince had a typically 80’s hair metal costume complete with red laced up pants and bleach blonde locks that framed his ample face. Vince still has a bit of the charm and charisma he had back in the day with Motley; he’s just bloated and phoning in a chunk of the performance at this point with a set list that was ALL Motley Crue classics.
The only person who missed more notes than Vince during the VN set was Dana Strum. Dana’s bass playing was fun to watch despite how many notes he missed due in part to Strum playing the role of rock star more than performer. Zoltan’s drumming was the only thing that actually held the entire set together. To his credit, Vince had the best set list of the night which started with “Dr Feelgood” and closed with “Wild Side”. Jack and Brad from Night Ranger were on the side of the stage to watch Vince’s set.
Vince Neil Set List: Dr Feelgood, Piece of Your Action, Looks That Kill, Home Sweet Home, SOS, Whole Lotta Love, Kickstart My Heart, Girls Girls Girls Wild Side
KIX were the headliner of Night #1 and they changed their set list up a fair amount with a few deeps cuts. When KIX started their set the temperature had dropped to just around 50 degrees which made their set a little less than stellar at times. KIX always deliver a solid set and they sounded great! Their energy was impressive and having KIX close night #1 is always a great precursor to what’s about to happen the following day.
KIX set list: Kix Are For Kids, Red Lite Green Lite TNT, Rock Your Face Off, Rock & Roll Overdose, Mean Miss Adventure, Cold Shower, Mighty Mouth, Same Jane, You’re Gone, Don’t Close Your Eyes, Baby Time Bomb, Love Me With Your Top Down, Cold Blood, Blow My Fuse, Wheels In Motion, Girl Money, Yeah Yeah Yeah
On Saturday, April 30, Day #2 of the M3 Rock Fest kicked off with Every Mother’s Nightmare at 11 AM. I arrived just as Faster Pussycat were finishing up their set and I could hear “Bathroom Wall” as I was walking into the venue. The first set I caught this day was Heaven’s Edge.
To be honest with you, I never knew who Heaven’s Edge were and still don’t. They sounded good but reminded me of a bar band comprised of older men that were trying to play hair metal.
Steelheart were fun BUT I had no idea the current version of the band had a unison look; they all have shaved bald heads except for the singer who looked like an older male model.
I missed all of Adler’s set because I had to meet up with Tom Keifer for an in-person interview. I managed to make it to the main stage just in time for Stephen Pearcy and his set was a wreck!
Stephen took the stage sporting a look best described as the Unabomber in vinyl pants and when the band started “Back For More” Stephen missed his cue to start singing. There were clearly some issues onstage and Stephen was not “feeling” this set at all. The band cut their set short 5 minutes early which left a little gap time between sets.
Michael Sweet randomly took the stage to MC the show and backstage I was with Michael when he was asked to jam with Y&T. Michael declined and his reason was that he didn’t know the song they asked him to sing.
I sat through a few minutes of Firehouse and while they sounded good I was just never a big fan of the band and decided to walk around the pavilion a bit to check out the crowd.
Quiet Riot played a set very similar to the one they did last year and “Metal Health” was all the rage. Jizzy Pearl is the perfect frontman for Quiet Riot because he hits the notes that Kevin did while adding his own style to the mix.
Slaughter were actually better this year than they were in previous years. Zoltan stole the show with his over the top drum antics. Mark Slaughter and the boys did what they do, their set featured all the hits, and the crowd seemed to enjoy what they did.
Night Ranger are always an amazing band to see. Jack and the boys tore it up with amazing showmanship and superb playing! Keri is a great fit as the bands new guitarist and overall Night Ranger were the best sounding band on Saturday.
Tom Keifer played a set that mixed rock, blues, and pop perfectly. Tom’s solo band is the answer to Keifer’s musical question with amazing musicianship, solid performance, and gritty rock n roll.
Keifer performed a cover of “By With A Little Help From My Friends”, the Joe Cocker version, and closed it with the ending of “Purple Rain” which sounded absolutely amazing! Keifer gave the most emotional performance of the night and gave Queensryche a run for their money!
The Tate-less Ryche sounded amazing and the crowd adored their set.
Tesla were the night’s headliner and closed out M3 with a kick ass set that covered all the classics flawlessly. Jeff looks and sounds just like he did back in the day and in terms of the overall performance, Tesla were absolutely perfect.
Around the time that Tesla took the stage it began to rain and the temperature dropped quite a bit which made the ending of M3 a tad somber.