Jul 5, 2021

M3 Rock Fest 2021

Category: Live Reviews


July 2, 2021 & July 4, 2021

Columbia, Maryland

Merriweather Post Pavilion

Warning:  This review is real and raw, I chose to tell how it was and not sugar coat anything.  The content in this review may upset some people but it’s an honest, true review on how the Friday and Sunday shows of M3 Rock Fest 2021 were.

 The M3 Rock Fest 2020 was destroyed by the Covid Pandemic much like most things in 2020 were.  M3 was rescheduled a few times and with that came line-up changes.  Fans were offered a full refund but most chose to keep their tickets in hopes of the fest happening sooner than later.  As the world started to recover from the grips of Covid concerts slowly started to creep back and the M3 Rock Fest chose the Fourth of July Weekend to be it’s new dates.  Many fans were disgruntled because the announcement left patrons with only a few weeks to scramble and make plans to attend.  With the shows taking place on a Holiday weekend it also made airfare, hotel reservations, and travel an added challenge.

 This was also the first year that the festival would be broadcast via VEEP online.  Not all bands signed off for the live stream:  Lita Ford, BulletBoys, Night Ranger, and Queensryche chose to not partake.

 It was announced two weeks prior to the show date that the Friday version of M3 would be FREE for anyone wanting to watch the show from Merriweather’s lawn.  Heaven’s Edge was originally slated to play that day but had to drop off and Tokyo Motor Fist took their place.

 I arrived at Merriweather on July 2, 2021 while Tokyo Motor Fist were onstage.  Danger Danger’s Ted Poley fronts this band with former Ted Nugent bassist Greg Smith, and Trixter’s Steve Brown on guitar.  The band seemed lost on the large stage and while Ted Poley did his best to keep the crowd entertained it was Steve Brown’s vocals on “Give It To Me Good” that received the best crowd reaction.  If I’m being honest with you Steve’s vocals were better than Ted’s.  I don’t mean that as an insult to Poley, he’s extremely upbeat, always smiling, and makes everyone feel at home, but Steve’s vocal performance stole the set.

 Tokyo Motor First Set List:  Youngblood, Shameless, Decadence on 10th Street, Love, Put Me To Shame, Street of Dreams (Rainbow Cover), Bang Bang (Danger Danger cover), Around Midnight, Give It To Me Good (Trixter Cover), Pickin Up The Pieces

 Slaughter were up next and seeing Slaughter is almost like seeing Vince Neil solo these days.  You may assume that I’m referring to Strum/Blando being a part of both bands but what I’m sadly referring to is the sad shape that both Vince Neil and Mark Slaughter are in these days.  Everyone has seen the recent solo train wreck performances from Vince Neil via YouTube but I had no idea that Mark Slaughter was in the same boat.  When Mark Slaughter took the stage for Friday’s M3 show he was wearing an XXL flannel shirt with the sleeves cut off and a large pair of ripped jeans that clearly came from the husky section.  I make jokes about Mark’s weight in a playful manner because it happens to everyone with age, but his vocal performance was where most people seemed to cringe.  Hearing Mark try to sing “Fly To The Angels” was painful because he can no longer hit those notes and while his guitar playing is still good his vocals are shot.  “Up All Nite” closed their set and it was painful to watch them go through the motions as Mark tried to hit the right notes.  The Slaughter backing band were spot on and sounded great, Blando, Strum, and their new drummer held down the music, it was Mark’s vocals that made it sound bad.  Slaughter’s cover of “Won’t Get Fooled Again” is reminiscent of what KISS are doing in the middle of “Lick It Up” on their current farewell tour.

 Slaughter Set List:  Mad About You, Burnin’ Bridges, Spend My Life, Happy Birthday Mark Slaughter, Immigrant Song, Eye To Eye, Desperately, Days Gone By, Real Love, The Wild Life, Fly To The Angels, Up All Night, Won’t Get Fooled Again

 Between sets Eddie Trunk came out to babble about random stuff and most of the crowd seemed indifferent.  Trunk has an excellent radio show but comes off arrogant at times and off putting.  His constant name dropping wears thin after a certain point and I was waiting to hear him say, “My good friend Ace Frehley” since he constantly makes it a point to tell everyone he’s close to Ace.

 There was an impressive fireworks display after the tragic Slaughter set and everyone was impressed with the large display that lit up the night sky.  In reality, they probably paid more for the fireworks display than they did for certain bands.

 KIX were the closer for Friday night and there were several interesting facts about their set.  First and foremost the set list was radically different with loads of deep cuts that made the set sound fresh and new.  Whiteman promoted his debut solo record several times and asked fans to please buy a copy at the merch table before leaving.  Hearing Whiteman promote his solo record while onstage with KIX reminded me of when KISS release simultaneous solo records; it was a last ditch effort to try and save a failing band and each member performed a solo song in the KISS set so everyone’s ego had a moment to shine.  Whiteman’s solo career should be kept separate from the KIX shows because it takes away from the main project and it would be like Brian Damage selling cd’s from his other projects at a KIX show, it’s a conflict of interest.  The elephant in the room was the new guitarist onstage with KIX, Bob Pare.  Shortly before the guitar solo Whiteman announced to the crowd that it was no secret that missing guitarist Ronnie Younkins had a drug problem and that he was absent due to his problems and being in rehab.  Bob Pare is currently just filling in for Ronnie but if I’m being honest with you Bob added new life to the band, his playing is different than Ronnie’s, and with the addition of Bob came a new set list with songs that KIX rarely performed onstage.  Whiteman joked that “Scarlet Fever” was Brian’s favorite song and when it was finished he said to Brian, “See, I told you it was a good song!” and told the crowd that Brian really hated that song and never wanted to perform it onstage.

 KIX had a few flubs during their set including a mess up of the “Whistling” part during “Girl Money”.  “Cold Shower” was a tad off vocally and the band should consider chopping off the vocal intro and just going right into the song to avoid vocal issues.

 KIX set ran long and they ended up cutting one song from the set making “Blow My Fuse” the nights closer.

 The Friday show was not sold out despite the lawn being free.  There were plenty of empty seats and on both Friday and Sunday you could look through the pavilion and see entire sections with no one in them.  The lawn had people on it both days but it was far from capacity.

 Kix Set List:  Midnight Dynamite, Lie Like A Rug, Sex, The Itch, No Ring Around Rosie, Get It While It’s Hot, Scarlet Fever, Girl Money, Love Me With Your Top Down, Don’t Close Your Eyes, Wheels In Motion, Cold Shower, Guitar Solo, Cold Blood, Drum Solo, Blow My Fuse

 I chose to skip Saturday’s M3 and came back on Sunday shortly before Pretty Boy Floyd took the stage.

 Steve Summers took the stage in all black and wearing a NIN shirt.  He joked that he was one of the few singers at M3 this year who could actually still sing and later in their set he proceeded to make jokes about how Ted Poley was on something to make him happy because he was just always so happy and smiling all the time.  Before the band started a cover of Motley Crue’s “Toast of the Town” Steve went into a rant about how Vince Neil had gotten fat and could no longer sing but regardless he still loved the Crue.  The addition of former Murderdoll member Eric Griffin on guitar injected new energy and life in Pretty Boy Floyd’s live show and for it being a 1:30 PM performance the band had a decent crowd.

 Pretty Boy Floy Set List:  Leather Boyz, Rock & Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night on Fire), Wild Angels, 48 Hours, Toast of the Town, Rock N Roll Outlaws, Only The Young, Your Mama Won’t Know, I Wanna Be With You

 Steve Adler’s lead singer Ariel Kamin sang lead the National Anthem in honor of it being the Fourth of July between sets and everyone in attendance stood at attention.

 Faster Pussycat were next and this was my first time witnessing Taime Downe onstage totally sober.  Taime looks healthy, he no longer smokes or drinks, and the band has renewed life with Taime’s sobriety and guitarist Sam Bam’s energy.  Sam Bam is a younger guy and his performance onstage makes Faster Pussycat stronger, faster, and leaner.  The set list included new song “NOLA” with it’s B-side “Pirate Love”.  Both songs sounded fresh and gave fans something new to experience.  “Ain’t No Way Around It” was also a new addition to the set and it’s great to see Faster Pussycat experiencing a renaissance period where they create new music, change up the set lists, and give fans something different.

 Faster Pussycat Set List:  Where There’s a Whip, Cathouse, Slip of the Tongue, Ain’t No Way Around It, Pirate Love, Number 1 with a Bullet, NOLA, House of Pain, Bathroom Wall, Shut up and F*ck, Babylon

 Eddie Trunk brought on LA Guns and as he exited the stage LA Guns singer Kurt Frohlich patted Eddie on the back and thanked him; Eddie seemingly turned around in an abrupt manner and gave Kurt a glance like, “Why did you just touch me, do you know who I am?”.  I may be wrong with that assessment but that is how it came off as it happened on the side of the stage.

 Riley’s L.A. Guns were next and what made their set interesting was how they opened with several old school LA Guns classics, then went into six brand new songs off their debut release.  Original LA Guns guitarist Tracii Guns took to Twitter criticizing Scott Griffin’s guitar solo in “Never Enough” but if I’m being honest with you no one really cared about the lack of perfection during their performance, most fans were happy to hear the songs they loved being performed live regardless of who was or wasn’t onstage with the band.  Think about this:  M3 is a fest that takes place for three days, most fans are drinking, smoking, partying, and not paying attention to how close a guitar solo may or may not sound, nor if it’s even in tune.  If you don’t believe me, look at Mark Slaughter’s vocal performance from this same show!  Hearing the flubs is all a part of the live concert experience.

 LA Guns Set List:  Over The Edge, Never Enough, Sex Action, Wild Obsession, Kiss My Love Goodbye, Crawl, All That You Are, Lost Boys, You Can’t Walk Away, Well Oiled Machine, Renegades, Ballad of Jayne, Nothing Better To Do, Electric Gypsy

 Eddie Trunk brought on Lita Ford by introducing her as “The First Lady of Rock” and her set was to the point with the only break being a mini drum solo by drum beast Bob Rock!  Lita had a few technical issues towards the beginning of her set and she blurted out at one point, “We are a guitar band and I cannot hear my guitar, I know I may not look like what you think is a guitar player is, the long blonde hair and the big boobs, but I’m a guitar player and I need to hear my guitar in the mix!”  

 Lita told the crowd that she was giving them a little Alice and then a little Ozzy just before her and guitarist Patrick Kennison performed a cover of “Only Women Bleed” by Alice Cooper which led into “Close My Eyes Forever”.  Lita closed her set with “Kiss Me Deadly” which brought the crowd to their feet.  

 Lita Ford Set List:  Gotta Let Go, Larger Than Life, The Bitch Is Back, Hungry, Playin’ With Fire, Can’t Catch Me, Cherry Bomb, Only Women Bleed, Close My Eyes Forever, Kiss Me Deadly

 Lita Ford’s set left the crowd amped and ready to rock; Great White were next and they did not deliver.

 I’m not sure why Great White were placed so high on the bill when you consider just how boring they are onstage.  I understand that they choose band billings based off hits, but having Great White follow Lita Ford was a mistake.  To clarify, this was the Mark Kendall version of GW.  They sounded great with Mitch Malloy on vocals but overall their set was just very bland and most people chose that moment in the show to get dinner and take a walk. 

 Eddie Trunk introduced most bands and at this point of the show he chose to offer a memorial to former Skid Row singer Johnny Solinger and Tawny Kitaen.  

 Warrant Set List:  Sure Feels Good To Me, Love In Stereo, Bed Of Roses, You’re The Only Hell…, I Saw Red, Song and Dance Man, Mr. Rainmaker, Blind Faith, Guitar Solo, Train Train, Down Boys, DRFSR, Sometimes She Cries, Heaven, Uncle Tom’s Cabin, Cherry Pie

 Warrant were next and their set featured Robbie Crane on bass.  Warrant are down to three original members at this point and during the first few minutes of their set there were technical issues which caused Joey Allen’s guitar to cut out and squeal, this error was fixed by the end of the first song.  Warrant’s set was louder than all bands who previously played on Sunday and Robert Mason is the absolute star of Warrant in concert.

 “Train, Train” was a nice surprise in the set and during “DRFSR” they brought out a chunky man wearing a suit and “Money” hat which mimicked the cover art for Warrant’s first record.  

 Totally random story:  As we were leaving there was a huge traffic back-up due to it being the Fourth of July and a Police Officer asked me, “How was the show?”  I proceeded to tell him that it was good and he said, “I really wanted to go on Friday but I couldn’t get off work.  I was here working today and heard Warrant’s set because they were so loud, I really wish I could have seen them because they sounded great!”

 Night Ranger were the last band to perform on Sunday night and it was rather appropriate considering one of their biggest hits is “You Can Still Rock In America” and this was the Fourth of July.

 Every band that played M3 made it a point to thank the crowd for coming out and they all declared how happy they were to be back onstage after the last 19 months of no live shows.  Night Ranger frontman Jack Blades joked that every band out there would have new records in stores because they all had nothing else to do since Covid took Rock N Roll away.

 My closing story for M3 is a hidden gem that made those who caught it laugh.  Night Ranger drummer Kelly Keagy wore a flashy black button up shirt with a vest and he was prominent throughout the show BUT if you paid close attention to when he lifted his arm you may have noticed that he forgot to remove the tag from under his arm on his new shirt that he wore onstage.  

 Night Ranger Set List:  Touch of Madness, Four In The Morning, Sing Me Away, Coming of Age, Rumor in The Air, The Secret Of My Success, Why Does Love Have To Change, Night Ranger, High Enough, When You Close Your Eyes, Don’t Tell Me You Love Me, Sister Christian, Rock In America

 Most concessions at the venue were cashless and require a card for purchases with the exception of one merch table that did accept cash.  At the merch table the prices were decent.  Queensryche were selling their tour shirts for $25, the M3 shirts were $30, an M3 poster was $10, a signed LA Guns poster was $20, a KIX cd was $20, a Steve Whiteman solo CD was $20.  

 The food and drinks were a tad pricey:  Four Chicken Tenders and Fries were $16, a bottle of water was $5.50, a soda was $6.50, a beer was around $14, and believe it or not I witnessed people bringing in big bags of food, sandwiches, snacks, chips, bottles of soda, etc. and for most people this was their first BIG concert since Covid shut the world down.




Author: Bob Suehs