M3 Rock Festival 2019 (Day One) Concert Review

KIX ONCE AGAIN DOMINATES DAY ONE OF M3 ROCK FESTIVAL

Date: May 3, 2019
Venue: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Location: Columbia, Maryland, USA
Event: M3 Rock Festival
Reviewers: Tyson Briden and Jeff Onorato
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography (photos of Kip Winger and Black ‘N Blue + first photo of Kix), Jeff Oronato (photos of Enuff Z’Nuff + last two photos of Kix)

This year, Sleaze Roxx had not one, not two, not three but four representatives attending the M3 Rock FestivalSleaze Roxx IT guru Ed DeGagne, professional photographer Christopher Carroll, seasoned writer Tyson Briden and new writer and cartoonist Jeff Onorato were all in attendance at M3, and both Tyson and Jeff reviewed the band’s performances.

Tyson Briden: So the journey begins… It was 4 a.m. on Friday, May 3rd, I was wide awake in bed anticipating the day ahead. It was finally here, my first time at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland. As I lied in bed, I thought, “Alright, the alarm is set for 4:45 a.m., just go back to sleep!” That was easy to say, but it just wasn’t happening, so I jumped out of bed and waited for that long 45 minutes until my wife awoke. By 5:30 a.m., my wife and I were on the road from Oshawa, Ontario, Canada to Columbia, Maryland, USA. This was to be a nine hour drive. That was in good traffic.

As soon as we hit the 401 Highway, it was obvious that the drive across the city to the Fort Erie border crossing would take longer than anticipated. By 8:00 a.m. we crossed the border. Not bad really considering. We had only lost a half hour. As we made our way onto the 90 Interstate, my Onstar GPS system quickly directed us off the highway, into the city streets of Buffalo. What the hell? That seems odd. Within ten minutes we were directed to the 400 Highway. Having gone that way many times in the past, I knew that the 400 was actually off the I-90. Regardless, we were on our way. For the next few hours, it was smooth sailing. As we drove, we noticed the temperature outside quickly rising. By the time we had hit lower New York State, we were sitting at a nice 23 degrees Celsius and it was sunny.

Within a few hours, we were close to our destination, but being that it was Friday afternoon, the traffic on the Freeway going towards Columbia, Maryland was a little tense. Apparently everyone in the DC / Baltimore area had somewhere to be. It was bumper to bumper for an hour, but by 3:30 pm, we had reached our destination. To be honest, when we reached the hotel, I was already feeling the effects of our long day — but wait, we’re going to a rock show tonight so I better get with the program and wake the hell up.

As we approached the venue in our Uber, my heart started to race with anticipation. As we turned the corner to the drop off spot, I looked ahead of me and noticed a red Toyota. Behind the wheel was a skinny, blond haired fella. I took a double take — low and behold it was Kix singer Steve Whiteman driving through the parking lot. As we got out of the Uber, his car turned around and drove by us. In the car was Whiteman and what I assumed were two other members of the band Kix. One I believed to be guitarist Brian Forsythe as the black hair was a dead give away. Then just like that, they were gone!

By 5:30 p.m., we were in line waiting to get into the Merriweather Post Pavillion. I have to admit, I was a little tense. I think my OCD had set in. I wanted everything to be perfect. As we entered the gates, we quickly saw the merchandise to our left. I scoured the scene at what I would possibly purchase. There were a few interesting items, but nothing caught my attention. What I was looking for was really a vinyl copy of Vixen’s latest live release or the latest Quiet Riot album on CD. There was nothing like that to be had. Carry on.

My wife and I made our way to purchase a beer. “That will be $24 Miss!” “Pardon? This is the United States correct? Home of much cheaper beer right?” The girl behind the counter said nothing and handed us our ever so expensive beverage. “Did I just buy a whole case of beer and only got two beers? I feel violated!” Fortunately, my wife is ever so observant and noticed $5 beers on the hill. So all was saved of the weekend as I have been known to indulge in a few beverages over the course of a weekend, not in a way of being a belligerent idiot, but just having the odd one to go along with the party.

Kip Winger:

Tyson Briden: Due to the fact that Kip Winger was only for VIP ticket holders, we would not see much of Mr. Winger. We could hear him, but couldn’t see him. Of course, Winger was doing renditions of Winger hits acoustically on his beautiful turquoise 12 string guitar. Honestly, he sounded amazing as he ripped through a set of classic Winger tunes. To hear how he would execute songs like “Madelaine” and “Down Incognito” acoustically was interesting. He really did a great job.

Jeff Onorato: Following an acoustic show at Columbia’s Union Jacks the night before, Kip Winger played his second acoustic set of the weekend serving as the opener of the 2019 M3 Rock Festival performing a stripped-down set of Winger classics. With only a percussionist and Winger keyboardist / guitarist Paul Taylor accompanying him, Kip delivered a mostly acoustic set to open the festivities on Day One. Playing songs exclusively from Winger’s first three albums, Kip was in top form vocally and demonstrated what a stellar musician he is. He opened with “Easy Come, Easy Go” and “Can’t Get Enough” from In the Heart of The Young and played eight songs in total. From there, it was on to “Hungry” from Winger’s first album. “Miles Away” from In the Heart of The Young was up next and benefited greatly from Paul Taylor’s keyboard accompaniment, but would have sounded great on just an acoustic guitar too. “Headed For A Heartbreak” was next, and the acoustic arrangement made it seem like an entirely different song without the heavy keyboards and guitar solo that the original is known for. I was happy to see Winger’s sorely underrated Pull album represented in the set via “Down Incognito.”  Kip finished up his show with two of Winger’s biggest hits — “Madaleine” and “Seventeen.”

Kip Winger’s setlist:
01. Easy Come Easy Go
02. Can’t Get Enough
03. Hungry
04. Miles Away
05. Headed For A Heartbreak
06. Down Incognito
07. Madalaine
08. Seventeen

Kip Winger‘s entire acoustic set at the M3 Rock Festival in Colombia, Maryland, USA on May 3, 2019:

Kip Winger – Entire Set – M3 Rock Festival

Kip Winger performs a special acoustic VIP set at the M3 Rock Festival. Shot from Section 202, Row B, Seat 14 with an iPhone X.

Enuff Z’ Nuff:

Tyson Briden: I was really skeptical about this band. With Chip Z’Nuff handling the vocals, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Sure I could have gone online to see what it sounded like in advance, but I prefer not to do that. I’d rather wait and see. It’s like sneaking around your house as a kid before Christmas, snooping to find those elusive presents that will be under the tree in a few days. Come Christmas morning, the excitement and anticipation has been ruined. That Toys In The Attic album I got for Christmas in 1988 just wasn’t the same. Everytime I look at it now, I remember finding it in the closet a few weeks before the 25th of December. Anyways, what did I think of Enuff Z’ Nuff? Well, let me say this. I did rankings of the shows before this review. I have to admit that numbers three through 17 are so close. It was hard to do, so don’t read too much into those choices. All the bands were so good. Some made the top of the list because they stood out in my mind. There were certain feelings felt during those performances that led me to lean that way or it was also the first time seeing some of those bands. Maybe I just like the songs in their catalog slightly more. Enuff Z’ Nuff were killer — bottom line. Chip Z’Nuff was on. New guitarist, Alex Kane, was fantastic. What I really enjoyed was how accurate guitarist Tory Stroffregen came to sounding like the late Derek Frigo. He nailed those solos and this was on a Telecaster style guitar. The biggest surprise of the set was when it was announced that Winger keyboardist / guitarist Paul Taylor would be joining the band to play the keyboards on “Fly High Michelle.” What made it even better was when Winger frontman Kip Winger came out to join the band on background vocals. To hear that song played perfectly with amazing backgrounds was such a treat. On any other given night, that song would not sound as fantastic as Taylor and Winger would not be there. Stellar job.

Drawing by Jeff Onorato

Jeff Onorato: Chicago’s Enuff Z’nuff were up next. They were a last minute (but welcome) addition to the M3 roster this year, taking the place of Heavens Edge (who were forced to cancel due to bassist G.G. Guidotti’s cancer battle). Their short, seven song set, did not disappoint. With new addition Alex Kane, Chip Z’nuff and co. played like a well-oiled machine. Kane never stood in one spot for very long and brought a ton of energy to the show. They kicked things off with “Metal Heart” from their latest Frontiers Records release, Diamond Boy. That record was one of the three Enuff Z’Nuff albums represented in the band’s abbreviated set. The first offering from their debut would be next via “Kiss The Clown.” “Diamond Boy” was next and a great addition that kept things rocking. Chip introduced their next song “In the Groove” as a “great song to fuck to” and had the crowd swaying to the slow, groove-laden song. Enuff Z’Nuff’s classic Strength album would be represented in the form of their next number, “Baby Loves You.” Drummer Dan Hill never missed a beat, and always appears to be having a blast onstage. “Fly High Michelle” saw the band joined by Kip Winger and Paul Taylor onstage who contributed keyboards and background vocals, respectively. Enuff Z’Nuff do not typically use keyboards when playing “Fly High Michelle” live, and Paul Taylor’s keys filled in the melody of the song nicely. They finished up with “New Thing” which is another song that everyone seemed to instantly recognize.

Enuff Z’Nuff’s setlist:
01. Metal Heart
02. Kiss The Clown
03. Diamond Boy
04. In The Groove
05. Baby Loves You
06. Fly High Michelle
07. New Thing

Enuff Z’Nuff performing “New Thing” live at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 3, 2019:

New Thing – Enuff Z’Nuff – M3 Rock Festival

Enuff Z’Nuff performs at the M3 Rock Festival. Shot from Section 202, Row B, Seat 14 with a Panasonic Lumix ZS100.

Black ‘N Blue:

Tyson Briden: Again, the ratings really don’t mean a whole lot here. Black ‘N Blue were bang on. The only disappointing thing and I believe I mentioned this to guitarist Brandon Cook, was that nothing from the In Heat album made it into the set. Of course, when you only get so much time, it can be hard to fit in all the material. For me, Black ‘N Blue’s best album is Without Love and on this night, the band performed that track and “Miss Mystery.” It was epic. What was even cooler on this night was that drummer Pete Holmes was unable to make the gig, so who was filling in on drums? It was none other than former BulletBoys / Lynch Mob and current Lies, Deceit & Treachery drummer Jimmy D’Anda. Since the late ’80s, I have always loved D’Anda’s cool swagger and killer beats behind the drums. I am sure with Holmes there, it would have been just as good, but being that I am a big supporter of Lies, Deceit & Treachery, I was taken by the fact that D’Anda was drumming for Black ‘N Blue. He really represented well. You’d be proud Mick Sweda! The band’s set seemed to flow very well and the crowd was definitely digging what was being heard.

Jeff Onorato: The legendary Black ‘N Blue, fronted by Jamie St. James and co. were also last minute additions to M3, filling in for Heavens Edge. You could see that they were thrilled to be at M3 and delivered a high-octane run through their classic tracks to the faithful in attendance. “Stop The Lightning” kicked things off, followed by “Does She Or Doesn’t She” and “Chains Around Heaven.” BulletBoys alumni Jimmy D’Anda was filling in for regular drummer Pete Holmes, who was playing the Domination show with Ratt in Mexico. Jimmy brought the thunder to M3! I was really blown away by the fire and intensity that Jimmy played with that night, as demonstrated on their next songs “Nasty Nasty” and “Without Love.” “Miss Mystery” would slow things down before the band returned to full speed for “Autoblast”, “Wicked Bitch” and crowd favorite “Hold On To 18.”

Black ‘N Blue’s setlist:
01. Stop The Lightning
02. Does She Or Doesn’t She
03. Chains Around Heaven
04. Nasty Nasty
05. Without Love
06. Miss Mystery
07. Autoblast
08. Wicked Bitch
09. Hold On To 18

Black ‘N Blue performing “Wicked Bitch” and “Hold On To 18” live at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 3, 2019:

M3 2019 BLACK & BLUE WICKED BITCH & HOLD ON TO 18

M3 ROCK FESTIVAL 2019

Tyson Briden: As the next band was to take the stage, I quickly decided it was time take a break and hit the bathroom. That may seem funny to put into a review, but in this instance, it has relevance. As I walked into the bathroom and as I was scouting out the perfect urinal, I noticed a guy standing there doing what I was about to do. Normally, I do not walk into a bathroom and look at other dudes, but this guy was wearing a Tuff‘s What Comes Around Goes Around t-shirt. As I unzipped my fly and proceeded to do what was important at the time, I said, “Hey man, digging the Tuff shirt!” “Awe, you know Tuff?” “Yeah, love them?” “Have you heard of the band Tales From The Porn?” “Of course I have!” “Well I play with Tuff singer Stevie Rachelle in that band. I am the guitar player!” “No way! That is cool!” It was indeed Tales From The Porn guitarist Andy Sun. He had travelled all the way from Brazil for the event. We quickly hit it off. We came out of the bathroom conversing and met up with our significant others. We did the introductions and off we went together to take in what was to come next.

Kix:

Tyson Briden: In terms of rock n’ roll bands that should be stars that aren’t, Kix are first on my list. There is so much musically and visually going on. The fact that guitarist Brian Forsythe and Ronnie “10/10” Younkins look like they should be on the stage with Aerosmith or The Stones plays a big part into that statement. Then you factor the stage presence and moves of singer Steve Whiteman, one would think that that would be a definite formula for success. So why with such a great stage show was this band never a household name like Mötley Crüe or Guns N’ Roses? Someone once told me it was because in the ’80s, Kix didn’t have that pinnacle guitar hero. You know the ones? Warren DeMartini, George Lynch, Jake E. Lee, etc. My reaction to that was that they didn’t need to. The music and stage show stood on its own! Let’s remember in the ’80s, everyone thought Mick Mars was a shitty guitar player. It wasn’t until years later that people recognized the fact that Mars played some of the most memorable solos in the ’80s (such as on “Home Sweet Home”, “Primal Scream”, etc). If you can sing it, it’s friggin’ amazing! That’s my thinking at least! Like the memorable “Hotel California” solo or Richie Sambora‘s amazing “Wanted Dead or Alive” solo ! But who am I to say really.

Regardless of that notion, Kix play Friday night at the M3 Rock Festival every year. When people in Canada have asked me who Kix are, I kindly say, “They are the Tragically Hip of Baltimore!” Now for those outside of Canada, if you don’t know, the Tragically Hip are one of Canada’s most prolific bands. Before the death of singer Gord Downie, they sold out every large venue in Canada.

So the analogy of Kix to the Tragically Hip becomes the perfect explanation I can give. This was my first time ever seeing Kix. They rarely come to Canada. You would have to ask them when the last time they came up here was because frankly I cannot answer that question. What did I expect? A kick ass live performance. What did I get? A kick ass live performance. It was obvious why this band is so highly regarded. In speaking with artists such as Mitch Malloy or Anthony Corder — when Kix are mentioned, they can’t say enough about how great they are. Everyone in that audience was into the band. As I was on the lawn for a good portion of the performance, it was amazing to see people dancing and singing along. Steve Whiteman could have said, “Kill” and I think this audience would have. What does that say about Kix’s stage presence? I think it really bodes well to the admiration and respect people have for this band. They hold your attention. Whiteman is so animated within his stage persona that you instantly fall in love with him. He has that certain type of appeal that holds your attention. It’s like Mick Jagger or Robert Plant. The really special singers have that appeal. That’s what makes them so great as frontmen.

Photo by Jeff Onorato

Within that you have the rest of the band. The guitar duo of Forsythe and Younkins is really something to see. They play so well off of each other, but at the same time stand on their own. One is totally different stylistically from the other. It’s like apples and oranges, but it works so well. Then you compound the talent of bassist Mark Schenker, who makes it easy to forget the fact that he is the only non-original member of Kix. He fits into the mix so well. Of course, you can’t forget the backbone of the whole thing and that’s drummer Jimmy “Chocolate” Chalfant. Together as Kix, they are what is expected of the headliner and that’s to steal the show. Overall, this performance was what I expected. They really did Blow My Fuse!

Jeff Onorato: Playing to a packed crowd in your hometown must be a catalyst for a great performance. Local area favorites Kix were back for their annual Friday night “Kix off” of M3. The band was greeted by a legion of fans clamouring to see and hear their hometown heroes perform their favorite songs. Opener “Midnight Dynamite” was the perfect way to start off their show before moving into “Lie Like A Rug”, “No Ring Around Rosie”, “Get It While It’s Hot” and “The Itch.” Frontman Steve Whiteman still looks and sounds great, hitting all those high notes. This was evident in the opening screams of “Girl Money” from their Hot Wire album. It would be nice to hear the band include a song from Show Business. It was the only album of theirs that they did not play a song from that night. I think “911” would be great in their set. “Mighty Mouth” and “Cold Shower” followed, before the band broke into “Love Me With Your Top Down”, a modern day Kix classic from their 2014 album Rock Your Face Off.  To paraphrase Steve Whiteman, the “song that got Casey Kasem to say the name Kix on the radio” was up next. “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was played to the roaring approval of the crowd. They followed up the ballad with “Same Jane.” Ronnie “10/10” Younkins delivered a remarkable, bluesy guitar solo before the band moved into “Cold Blood” and “Blow My Fuse” which had everyone in attendance singing along. They finished up their set with the infectious “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.”

Photo by Jeff Onorato

Kix’s setlist:
01. Midnight Dynamite
02. Lie Like A Rug
03. No Ring Around Rosie
04. Get It While It’s Hot
05. The Itch
06. Girl Money
07. Mighty Mouth
08. Cold Shower
09. Love Me With Your Top Down
10. Don’t Close Your Eyes
11. Same Jane
12. Cold Blood
13. Blow My Fuse
14. Yeah, Yeah, Yeah

Kix performing “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” live at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 3, 2019:

Kix @ M3 Rock Festival May 3, 2019 Yeah Yeah Yeah encore

Kix @ M3 Rock Festival..May 3, 2019 Yeah Yeah Yeah…Steve saying this is the encore..don’t ask for more. Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia, MD. I do not own the rights to the music or content in this video.

After Party At The Sheraton:

Tyson Briden: Now, one would think that as the show comes to a close that two 40 something’s would head back to their room and go to sleep. Well kids, not here! There was more fun to be had. As the show was ending, it began to rain. We darted around the raindrops trying not to get wet. We made our way to the front gate and stood under the box office overhang. I suggested to my wife about walking to the Sheraton where there was an after-party taking place. My wife was not having a walk in the heavy rain. I pled my case stating, “We won’t melt. It’s just rain!” I more or less got that ever so wonderful look of discontent from her [fellas you know that look!]. So… we then texted for an Uber. Well, that Uber took quite some time to arrive. We were the last people under that overhang. I was getting agitated, but knew it would not be long. Suddenly, a confirmation that the Uber had arrived! Finally! We quickly darted to our ride.

As we arrived to the Sheraton Hotel, we could see many people congregating within the doors of our destination. We made our way through the automatic doors. We decided to hit the beer line-up and then mingle amongst the patrons of the hotel. We both ordered two beers as I hate going back in a line-up. We then made our way through the crowd into the bar area. I spotted two familiar faces — Steve West and Bruno Ravel of Danger Danger! I slowly walked over and stood before them, they noticed me and Westy shouted, “Tyson Briden! Holy shit!” We then said out hello’s and began to catch up as it had been over four years since our last meeting. As I was talking to Bruno, out of the corner of my eye I noticed one Jimmy D’Anda. I walked over, introduced myself and asked if we could take a photo. Jimmy obliged. In the few hours that we were there, I cannot even tell you who we bumped into. Band members were coming and going.

It was really nice to chat with Patrick Young from Black ‘N Blue. Seriously, a really nice guy! As Black ‘N Blue had been playing earlier in the evening, I looked over at Young and thought, “Wasn’t he supposed to be on Don Dokken’s first solo album?” Of course, I had to ask him. When I did, he looked at me with a big smile and said, “You’re right. What was the first single?” “Mirror Mirror” “Yep, that’s me on that track!” He explained that he was in the band for a time, but it just wasn’t the right fit for him so he bowed out. So there you go, a good Dokken trivia question and it proves that I wasn’t out just partying. I was actually still on duty for Sleaze Roxx! During this time of schmoozing at the bar, there were bands playing in the back room. I did manage to catch Black ‘N Blue doing a Cheap Trick cover. I unfortunately missed Tora Tora who actually arrived at the hotel and immediately jumped on stage. Damn! How did I miss that?

Now it wouldn’t be an evening of drinking if someone didn’t cause somewhat of a scene. I was not witness to this event but I have been told by a very reliable source and I am not going to name any names, but a drummer for one of the bands was involved in an altercation. My understanding was that someone introduced a member of another band to this drummer. He then stepped in and said, “Fuck your band man!!!” Then it escalated from there. Two girls stepped in to break it up. Now in the past, this particular drummer has had issues, so I am not surprised at what transpired. At this point in the game, I think that most of these bands realize that their best days may have past them by. Most are appreciative to have any level of success. This event brings people from all over the world. This could be the biggest North American event for this type of music. I would tend to believe with so many people present, that most artists would choose to not be seen in that light. An unfortunate turn of events to say the least.

By 3:00 a.m. it was time to retire for the night. The next day would be a pinnacle day as so many great bands were on the bill. My wife and I headed back to our hotel for some much needed rest. See you tomorrow kids!

Tora Tora performing “Rose of Jericho” and “Nowhere To Go But Down” live at the M3 Rock Festival‘s ‘After Party‘ at the Sheraton Hotel in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 3, 2019:

Tora Tora M3 After Party May 3, 2019

Tora Tora M3 After Party Sheraton Columbia Maryland May 3, 2019