The 3rd Annual M3 Rock Festival took place on May 13 & 14, 2011 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD. The festival is fast becoming the East Coast destination of choice for the hair metal crowd and the festival certainly is becoming stronger and stronger each year, as this years lineup seemed to be the best yet. With acts such as WHITESNAKE, TESLA, LITA FORD & MR. BIG making their debut at the festival and returning acts such as SLAUGHTER, WARRANT and the ever popular local favorites KIX, the festival is heading in the right direction. This year’s edition of the M3 was turned into a 2 day event for the first time with a “Kix-off party” which featured WARRANT, LA GUNS, JETBOY and of course KIX! RockEyez wasn’t able to make the full two-day event but we did hear from people who attended the Kix-off party on Friday night and we were told the seating area at the Merriweather Post Pavilion was packed with fans.
Day number 2 got off to a bit of a late start as this year the weather wasn’t going to totally cooperate. There was a misty rain virtually all day up until the headliner WHITESNAKE took the stage and then it started to pour! We missed DANGER DANGER’s performance as openers on the main stage but by all accounts the band was fun as always. We even heard singer Ted Poley took a stroll through the crowd in the middle of the set! Only Ted! I really felt for the poor souls on the lawn but by the end of the evening most probably didn’t even care about the rain! Hey, this is rock ‘n roll isn’t it?
The day was highlighted by a rare US performance of MR. BIG, who were supporting their new CD “What If…”. The band is a strong as ever and sounded great. Other highlights of the day were TESLA, who gave the fans a preview of a brand new song from a record due out in July called “Twisted Wires”. GREAT WHITE was also a nice surprise as former XYZ singer Terry Ilous filled in for the ailing Jack Russell and did a great job of working the crowd.
Two lesser-known bands took slots on the second stage this year but just because the name of the bands wasn’t familiar to all it didn’t mean the band members weren’t. HURTSMILE is a new band featuring none other than EXTREME (and ex-VAN HALEN) singer Gary Cherone alongside his bother Mark Cherone. The band played songs of their new CD and also threw in some EXTREME and the VAN HALEN song “Without You” from the “III” record that Cherone appeared on. They also threw in a cover of “Pump It Up” by ELVIS COSTELLO. The other not-so-familiar band was BIG NOIZE. This is an interesting project that features some very BIG names! Former RAINBOW singer Joe Lynn Turner is on vocals and he is teamed with Vinnie Appice (HEAVEN & HELL, DIO, etc.), Carlos Cavazo (ex-QUIET RIOT) and Phil Soussan (ex-OZZY OSBOURNE band). Special guest Erik Norlander (ROCKET SCIENTISTS) was on keyboards this day and the band ran through a bevy of classic rock tunes like “Mob Rules”, “Rainbow In The Dark”, “Street Of Dreams”, “Mental Health” & “Come On Feel The Noize” (which had some help from WARRANT’s Robert Mason).
The second stage headliner was the rejuvenated LITA FORD. Lita was in good form along with new guitarist Gary Hoey, bassist PJ Farley (TRIXTER), keyboardist Michael T. Ross and drummer Dennis Zimmer (who along with Farley made up the New Jersey connection in the band!).
If all that wasn’t enough then you still had the festival’s headliner, the legendary WHITESNAKE. David Coverdale and company took command of the Merriweather Post Pavilion stage with a 90-minute set of classics and new songs and simply delighted the audience. Mr. Coverdale was in good voice this evening as the band opened their set with “Best Years” from the “Bad to Be Good” CD and closed with the 80’s anthem “Still Of The Night” leaving the M3 crowd wanting more.
The weather aside the 2011 M3 Festival was another huge success and it makes you already look forward to see what the organizers have in store for next years event! By the way with such a long, all-day event I needed to take a breather and totally missed SEBASTIAN BACH’s set. No doubt it was an energetic one as Bas is one who usually makes you winded just watching him rock out on stage. Also I need to mention that in addition to the two music stages at M3, there were also many other attractions to take part in. This year NJ’s own EDDIE TRUNK was on hand to meet fans and sign copies of his new book “Eddie Trunk’s Essential Hard Rock and Heavy Metal”. Joining him was friend and book photographer Ron Akiyama. Many booths were set up offering everything getting your hair colored 80’s style to meeting tattooed freaks! All in all, the M3 Rock Festival was huge amounts of fun so bring on 2012!
Special thanks to Kisha of 930 Productions for all her help.