KIX DOMINATE DAY ONE OF M3 ROCK FESTIVAL
Date: May 4, 2018
Venue: Merriweather Post Pavillion
Location: Columbia, Maryland, USA
Event: M3 Rock Festival (Day One)
Photos: Christopher Carroll ROCK Photography
After a two year hiatus (I skipped 2016 and 2017), I was making my return to the M3 Rock Festival. Gone were the two stages and the very quick walk that I previously had to do to get from one stage to the next. Gone were the poorly organized parking lots filled with mud, cookouts and parties. Gone were the dirty washrooms where you almost rather hold it in than step foot in those nasty facilities. Instead, there was only the main stage, multiple smaller parking lots and much cleaner washrooms. What a difference that three years makes! Another difference this time around was the heat. I couldn’t believe it when my vehicle temperature gage showed 35 degrees Celsius. That was Florida like weather in the dead of summer!
One cool thing this year for me in attending the M3 Rock Festival was that I would not be saddled with the task of photographing the event. This time around, I would be able to leave the photo taking duties to a professional and none other than Sleaze Roxx contributor / photographer Christopher Carroll. I could now just simply enjoy the show. The drawback is that Chris would have access to the photo pit right next to the stage for the first three songs of each performer’s set while I had to stay behind a little bit. My assigned seat was on the floor but to the side so I ended up standing near the third row of seats closest to the stage for most of the M3 Rock Festival. In any case, the photo pit isn’t that much fun as there are usually tons of photographers clamouring for position as they take photo after photo.
Just like I had met Chris for the first time at the M-Pre Party the night before, this time around, I would meet Sleaze Roxx IT website guru, Ed DeGagne, for the first time in person. I was really looking forward to that. With everyone seemingly arriving just as the doors opened, I suggested to Ed that we meet during Nelson‘s set since there was literally only 5 to 15 minutes between sets with the rotating stage from one act to another. It was great to finally meet Ed in person and we got the chance to hang out a few more times throughout the rest of the weekend. As a surprise and courtesy of Chris, I also got to meet world renowned (or at least nationally renowned) photographer Joe Schaeffer who has been very kind in allowing Sleaze Roxx to use some of his world class photographs from time to time.
As seems to be a tradition at the M3 Rock Festival since at least 2015, VIP ticket holders are treated to an acoustic set from a performer that is usually advertised only after the official line-up has already been announced. This time, it was none other than Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon that would have the honours of being the VIP ticket holders’ acoustic performer. Earlier this year, Hannon had released an album consisting of covers entitled From One Place… To Another. I knew that this would likely mean that he would be playing cover songs during his acoustic set and that’s exactly what he did. Given that it was only the VIP ticket holders that would be allowed inside the Merriweather Post Pavillion venue for Hannon‘s set and since the guitarist was the first act of the day, the venue felt really bare while he played his short acoustic set.
No offence to Hannon (as Tesla were one of my favorite bands growing up) but I thought that his set kind of left to be desired. It was only when he played the Tesla songs “Love Song” and “Signs” (I know the latter one is a cover too) that he seemed to garner any sort of solid crowd reaction. I know that it’s cheaper to simply bring an artist to do an acoustic set but I wish that the VIP ticket holders were treated to a full band playing plugged in or at least have the artist play songs from his/her repertoire acoustically rather than a bunch of cover songs like Hannon mostly did. I get that Hannon had a covers album to plug but I would have liked to only hear Tesla songs rather than some at times obscure cover songs. Hannon‘s set turned out to be the most disappointing set of the entire four day weekend of music that I would attend. I will add that Hannon played really well but it’s mostly just not the type of songs that I wanted to hear.
Frank Hannon’s setlist:
01. Blue Sky
03. Gypsy Highway
04. Funk #49
05. Love Song
Frank Hannon performing live on Day One of the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2018:
Frank Hannon VIP PerformanceMerriweather Post PavillionColumbia, MarylandM3 Rock Festival May 4, 2018
Pretty Boy Floyd:
I was really looking forward to seeing Pretty Boy Floyd play live after seeing them put on a great performance at the Rock N Skull Festival back in October 2016. It was a pity that Pretty Boy Floyd were opening the festivities given that they only had about half an hour to play and it seemed like a lot of people were still making their way into the Merriweather Post Pavillion during the band’s set. There’s no question that Pretty Boy Floyd play the type of material that I really like and that’s easy to sing along to. Big choruses and great guitar riffs highlighted almost every one of their songs played during their short set. Pretty Boy Floyd were able to squeeze in one new song (“Feel The Heat”) from their new studio album Public Enemies and the track did not seem out of place in any way.
One thing I really like about Pretty Boy Floyd is that they look and dress the part. Even though it was very hot outside, there was Pretty Boy Floyd frontman Steve Summers performing in a leather jacket, cowboy boots and a cowboy type hat. Gotta love it! Summers addressed the crowd on a few occasions and upon hearing a loud cheer from the audience, expressed surprise at how loud the cheers were given that Pretty Boy Floyd were the first band playing. It’s always fun to see a band perform in broad daylight as well since most of the time, you see bands such as Pretty Boy Floyd performing in darker clubs with lots of lights. Overall, Pretty Boy Floyd put on my second favorite performance on Day One of the M3 Rock Festival.
Pretty Boy Floyd’s setlist:
01. Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz
02. 48 Hours
03. Feel The Heat
04. Your Momma Won’t Know
05. I Wanna Be With You
06. Rock And Roll (Is Gonna Set The Night On Fire)
07. Live Wire (Mötley Crüe cover)
Pretty Boy Floyd performing “Feel The Heat” live on Day One of the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2018:
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Nelson were one of the pleasant surprises of the M3 Rock Festival for me. As previously indicated, Sleaze Roxx IT guru Ed DeGagne and I skipped a good portion of Nelson‘s set while chatting away. I did want to catch at least a little bit of Nelson‘s set so we headed back under the Pavillion section just as the group was playing arguably its biggest hit “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love & Affection.” I have to say that I was very intrigued to see how the Nelson twin brothers — I assume that they are identical — would interact and perform given that I have a special interest with identical twins. I was actually quite mesmerized watching Gunner and Matthew Nelson perform.
One of the twins — I couldn’t distinguish them at this point although I knew one plays bass while the other played guitar — shared with the M3 Rock Festival crowd that their estranged mother had recently passed away. The twin in question spoke about how their mother wasn’t really made to be a mom but did the best she could. The Nelson twins connected with their artistic mother through their music even though it seems that there was virtually no communication for a long time between them. Eventually, one of the twins dedicated the song “Just Once More” to the twins’ deceased mother, which I thought was a special moment. Nelson then brought Tesla guitarist Frank Hannon back on stage for a rendition of the Rick Nelson penned song “Garden Party” which happens to be a song on Hannon‘s new covers album From One Place… To Another, and which happens to feature Matthew and Gunner Nelson. The group was not finished there as its set ended with a rousing rendition of Led Zeppelin‘s “Whole Lotta Love” which had one of Nelson‘s guitarists handle lead vocals. I’ve got to admit that Nelson were the one band that I really did not care for going into the M3 Rock Festival (as I didn’t know them and thought that they might be too poppy for my musical taste) but I really enjoyed the portion of the band’s set that I caught.
Nelson’s setlist (as per setlist.fm):
01. I Can Hardly Wait
02. After The Rain
03. A Girl Like That
04. More Than Ever
05. (Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection
06. Just Once More
07. Garden Party (Ricky Nelson cover)
08. Whole Lotta Love (Led Zeppelin cover)
Nelson performing “(Can’t Live Without Your) Love And Affection” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2018:
After their historic gig without frontman Taime Downe at the M3 Rock Festival last year, Faster Pussycat were back with an apparently clean, sober and healthier Downe in the line-up. I remember back in the late ’80s when Faster Pussycat‘s debut album was released, L.A. Guns‘ self-titled album and Guns N’ Roses‘ Appetite For Destruction came out at around the same time and at that time, I treated each release kind of on equal footing. It’s always interesting to me how Guns N’ Roses exploded to become one of the biggest bands in the world while Faster Pussycat and L.A. Guns have had respectable music careers but nothing even close to Guns N’ Roses‘ level of success.
I’ve always loved the early Faster Pussycat songs, which never seem to get old when I hear them live. My one complaint about seeing Faster Pussycat live is that it’s always virtually the same. Downe stands in one position for most of the show without really addressing the crowd while the band delivers pretty much the same set time and time again. So as much as I enjoy Faster Pussycat‘s setlist, their live performance doesn’t really do that much for me. Perhaps that is why I haven’t seen Faster Pussycat perform live for over five years. In any case, Faster Pussycat put on their usual set, which was enjoyable to listen to. My favorite songs played this time around were “Cathouse,” “Don’t Change That Song” and the set closer “Babylon.”
Faster Pussycat’s setlist:
01. Jack The Bastard
03. Slip Of The Tongue
04. Number 1 With A Bullet
05. You’re So Vain
06. Don’t Change That Song
07. House Of Pain
08. Bathroom Wall
09. Shut Up And Fuck
Faster Pussycat performing “House Of Pain” live at the M3 Rock Festival on May 4, 2018:
Unfortunately, Y&T have been a band that I have just not gotten into over the years despite purchasing their live album Live At The Mystic (2012) and the compilation Earthquake The A&M Years 1981-1985 (2013) in the last few years. While I fully acknowledge that Y&T sounded great at this year’s M3 Rock Festival, their set didn’t really move me. I was disappointed not to hear the song “Contagious” which is my favorite Y&T track.
At one point during the show, Y&T frontman and lone original remaining band member Dave Meniketti advised the M3 audience that he was dedicating the song “I’ll Cry For You” to his deceased original bandmates — bassist Phil Kennemore (died in 2011), drummer Leonard Haze (died in 2016) and rhythm guitarist Joey Alves (died in 2017). That was a nice gesture and a bit of an eye opener to me as I realized all of a sudden that all of the 64-year old Meniketti‘s original bandmates had now passed away. I knew that Kennemore, Haze and Alves had all died but never put two and two together that only Meniketti was left from the original Y&T members. Unfortunately, “I’ll Cry For You” was an instrumental so I thought that it was shame that Y&T used their precious time on stage to play a likely largely unknown instrumental rather than a song such as “Contagious”!
Y&T had the distinction on Day One of the M3 Rock Festival of playing the oldest set of songs given that two tracks were played from Black Tiger (1982), two from Mean Streak (1983), one from In Rock We Trust (1984), one from Down From The Count (1985), two from Contagious (1986) and one from Facemelter (2010).
Y&T’s setlist (as per setlist.fm):
01. Black Tiger
02. Mean Streak
03. Masters And Slaves
04. Hang ‘Em High
05. Eyes Of A Stranger
06. I’ll Cry For You
07. I’m Coming Home
08. Summertime Girls
Y&T performing “Forever” at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 4, 2018:
Y&T live @ M3 2018
Kix are a phenomenon — at least in Maryland. Not being from Maryland, I’ve never really gotten into Kix until just before the M3 Rock Festival‘s 2014 edition. I was simply blown away by how good the band was live. The group’s songs are not half bad either but it’s truly live that the Maryland based rockers really shine. Interestingly, Kix were not the headliners for Day One of this year’s M3 Rock Festival. Frankly, I thought that was a mistake. No band playing the M3 Rock Festival would surely want to have to play right after Kix‘s set. Just ask W.A.S.P. who I understand closed out Day One of the festival in 2013 but were largely criticized / not that appreciated for playing after Kix. This time around, it would be Tom Keifer that would have the privilege of closing out Day One. Keifer should have taken a cue from Loverboy and Winger who apparently agreed at last year’s M3 to have the Maryland hometown favorites play after them. As Kix frontman Steve Whiteman explained to the M3 audience last year, Loverboy and Winger had each sold more records than Kix but when it came time to Kix and the people of Baltimore (Maryland), it was a love affair and those bands got it.
From the moment that Kix frontman Steve Whiteman stepped up on stage to the band’s last notes, the man was constantly in motion. I sometimes wonder how he is able to sing so well while continuously moving around so much. The man is definitely in great shape and really has to be to pull that off. The rest of the Kix band members were no slouches either with guitarists, Ronnie “10/10” Younkins (looking really good after having to skip last year’s event due to an addiction relapse and a stint in rehab) and Brian “Damage” Forsythe, playing their hearts out while taking center stage at times as well. As usual, bassist Mark Schenker was up front with his mic stand while he delivered the background vocals. Drummer Jimmy Chalfant looked and played great behind his drum kit. If you’ve never been to a Kix show and especially at the M3 Rock Festival, it’s really hard to describe just how over the top the energy level from the group’s set really is.
I was slightly disappointed with Kix‘s opening song “Can’t Stop The Show” because I think there are many better songs off their last studio album Rock Your Face Off that could have been played. Nevertheless, it was still very exciting to see Kix rocking it out. The group followed up with “Midnite Dynamite” (which is usually one of the last songs played in their set) and the classic “Girl Money.” Both those songs seemed to have the audience in a frenzy. At that point, Whiteman explained to the audience the significance of Kix‘s fourth album, Blow My Fuse (which was released in 1988). Whiteman explained how it helped the band graduate from vans to tour buses, and clubs (or something like that) to arenas. The singer also announced that the group would be releasing a 30th year anniversary record in celebration of the original album apparently titled Fuse 30 Reblown. It was nice to see Whiteman give credit to the Maryland faithful on why Kix were allowed to keep releasing album after album until Blow My Fuse. The singer reminded everyone how Kix‘s previous albums sold like hotcakes first in Maryland and then in the surrounding areas.
Although I had never admittedly heard the entire Blow My Fuse album, I was really looking forward to Kix playing it in its entirety. I was surprised by how many songs that I knew already from Blow My Fuse (such as “Ring Around The Rosie,” “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “Cold Blooded” and the title track) but given that it was Kix‘s breakthrough album, it shouldn’t have been a surprise. I enjoyed hearing from Whiteman as there had been no thought from Atlantic Records on releasing the ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes” as a single until a famous manager for Guns N’ Roses and Great White (who was not identified by Whiteman but presumably is Alan Niven) heard the song and made the call to Atlantic Records executives to right the wrong in that regard. Although I was hearing a lot of the songs from Blow My Fuse such as “Piece Of the Pie” and “Boomerang” for the first time, they sounded really good on a first listen. I was a little surprised that Kix ended their set with “Dirty Boys” and not a more well known track but perhaps there were some time considerations to adhere to.
Overall, I thought that Kix simply blew away the rest of the bands on Day One with the possible exception of Pretty Boy Floyd. It would have been interesting to see Kix play on Day Two to see how they would have fared alongside some of the better performers from that day.
01. Can’t Stop The Show
02. Midnight Dynamite
03. Girl Money
04. Red Lite, Green Lite, TNT
05. Get It While It’s Hot
06. Ring Around The Rosie
07. Don’t Close Your Eyes
08. She Dropped Me The Bomb
09. Cold Blood
10. Piece Of The Pie
12. Blow My Fuse
13. Dirty Boys
Kix performing “Cold Blood” at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 4, 2018:
Kix performing “Girl Money” at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 4, 2018:
Girl Money, Kix, M3 Festival Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, Maryland; April 28th, 2017
Having attended the 2014 and 2015 editions of the M3 Rock Festival in the past, I was used to Kix closing out Day One and it felt odd to have another band play after them this time around. By the time that Keifer got on stage, fatigue had taken over my body and the scorching heat had taken its toll on me. I suppose that getting up at 4 am or so the day before, driving almost nine hours to get to the M-Pre Party and attending the almost eight hours long M-Pre Party in the midst of scorching heat coupled with only a few hours of sleep afterwards simply was too much for me as I had little energy left by the time that Keifer took his turn on stage. That and the fact that Keifer and his band sounded a bit flat compared to the high energy set that Kix had delivered. Keifer‘s voice didn’t seem to have his usual grit behind it. All the band members were pretty much stationery at their respective positions for the entire set. Even though Keifer and company mostly restricted their setlist to Cinderella songs, it was virtually the same setlist that Keifer came up with for the M3 Rock Festival in 2015.
By the time that Keifer decided to slow it down with “Long Cold Winter”, my interest (and energy level) had waned greatly. Although I kept track of the songs played by Keifer throughout his set, I really don’t remember that much of it after “Nobody’s Fool” which suggests to me that I may have fallen asleep through part of Keifer‘s set. It had been a long time since that happened if that is the case. The last time that I recall this happening was in the late ’80s when a drumstick suddenly hit my head as I was at a local band’s show that was taking place in the early morning hours. Overall, Keifer‘s set was a disappointing one. Having to go right after Kix turned out to be the kiss of death for Keifer and company.
Tom Keifer’s setlist (as per setlist.fm):
01. The More Things Change
02. The Last Mile
03. Bad Seamstress Blues / Fallin’ Apart At The Seams
04. Long Cold Winter
05. It’s Not Enough
06. Somebody Save Me
07. Shake Me
08. Don’t Know What You Got (Till It’s Gone)
09. Nobody’s Fool
10. Solid Ground
11. Night Songs
12. Coming Home
13. Shelter Me
14. With A Little Help From My Friends
15. Gypsy Road
Tom Keifer performing “The More Things Change” at the M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, Maryland, USA on May 4, 2018: