May 23, 2016 M3 Festival Day 2 Explosive At Merriweather Post Pavilion Columbia, MD 4-30-16
The persistence of cold weather did not keep passionate fans from returning for more ’80s Rock madness at M3 Festival in Columbia, Maryland on Saturday, April 30th. An even bigger lineup than the opening day, Day Two promised around twelve hours of near non-stop music with the stage rotating, ensuring fast band turnaround times, keeping concert goers glued to their seats while band after band plunged relentlessly into their sets. Rocking right out of the gate, the day’s lineup consisted of Every Mother’s Nightmare, followed by Faster Pussycat, Heaven’s Edge, Steelheart, Adler, Y & T, Stephen Pearcy, Firehouse, Quiet Riot, Slaughter, Night Ranger, Tom Keifer from Cinderella, Queensrÿche, before concluding in the latter part of the evening with Tesla for what would be an epic Day Two.
Every Mother’s Nightmare
With the gates opening at 10:30 AM, anxious fans plied into Merriweather Post Pavilion, and at 11 AM Every Mother’s Nightmare were the first band to kick the festivities off. Formed in the early ’90s out of Tennessee, the band has garnered a huge amount of press in the Rock and Metal communities, nationally as well as overseas. They have been interviewed and written about in hundreds of magazines, and appeared on Joan River’s talk show, as well as had several music videos featured repeatedly on MTV’s Headbanger Ball. Now in 2016, Every Mother’s Nightmare has continued to tour and show no signs of slowing down.
Known for their stage presence and showmanship, Every Mother’s Nightmare brought the passion right up to the forefront of their performance once again with “Loco Crazy.” The band motivated the crowd, bringing people to their seats fast. “Walls Come Down” and “Snake” were next on their list before leading into the Country-meets-’80s styled “Love Can Make You Blind.” Moving along, they covered Charlie Daniel’s “Long Haired Country Boy,” ending their set with yet another energetic song. Still touring, anyone who wishes to catch up with Every Mother’s Nightmare can see them perform at select shows in July.
Next up and hitting the stage with a hardcore attitude was Los Angeles, Cailfornia’s own Faster Pussycat. Forming in 1985, this band’s name was inspired by the 1965 cult film Faster Pussycat, Kill Kill, and thirty plus years of rocking, they have built a strong name on the scene. Reformed after a lengthy break between 1993 and 2001, Faster Pussycat today consist of Taime Downe on vocals, Xristian Simon on guitar, Danny Nordahl on bass, Chad Stewart on drums, and Ace Von Johnson on guitar. Recently on tour, like they usually are, Faster Pussycat are known for their live shows and their stop at M3 Festival would prove it.
While people were still arriving at the venue, as soon as they could see who was on stage, more people found their way to watch Faster Pussycat as they let out a tremendous cheer. An intense drum line introduced “Cathouse” and out walked Downe with a lit cigarette, letting loose gravelly vocals. Following with “Slip of the Tongue” and “Number 1 with a Bullet,” Faster Pussycat put on an interesting show that kept everyone rocking. The whole band was sporting pajamas like a uniform, and at one point, Downe laid out on the stage and sang. Faster Pussycat continued on with everyone’s favorite, “House Of Pain,” and rounded out the performance with one of their 1987 singles, “Bathroom Wall.” The band is now set to kick off the second leg of their Dirty Thirty tour, so get out and see them.
To follow was Heaven’s Edge, who came out with a crazy, energetic stage presence. Coming together back in 1987, out of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Heaven’s Edge was created by Guitarist and Keyboardist Reggie Wu along with Vocalist Mark Evans before they recruited David Rath on drums, Steven Parry on guitar, and George “G.G.” Guidotti on bass guitar. In the early years, the band primarily played on the East Coast before being picked up by Columbia Records, and in 1990, they dropped their self-titled full-length album. Now reunited since 2103, the current members of Heaven’s Edge are Evans, Wu, Rath, Guidotti, along with Jimmy Marchiano (guitar).
Bringing a different flair to the stage with several in sync maneuvers, they performed “Don’t Stop, Don’t Go” and “Play Dirty” as Evans teased the crowd a little bit about being hungover. Mentioning the difference between the days of their past with now, he playfully said, “Coffee and Rock N’ Roll, not the way it used to be, but still cool.” Promising a hangover cure, the band asked the crowd to sing along with “Daddy’s Little Girl” before they went into “Rock Steady” and “Find Another Way.” Finishing up with their 1990 single “Skin To Skin,” all three guitars lined up and spun around together in a very cool finale. While there are no current shows announced for the band, odds are new dates will be coming soon.
Returning to the M3 stage for the first time since 2013 was the beloved Steelheart. Back in the early days of Steelheart, they initially went by the name Red Alert before they were informed the name was already taken. Allegedly changing their name to reflect the motivation they had for finding a record deal, they became Steelheart, and in the ’90s enjoyed incredible success in east, Asian countries with several hits. Sadly, while performing one night, Lead Vocalist Miljenko Matijevic was involved in a bad accident near the end of the tour with Slaughter and Steelheart was no more. Recovering, Matijevic reformed Steelheart with a new lineup four years later. Now regularly active since 2006, the newest incarnation features Matijevic (vocals, rhythm and acoustic guitar, piano), Uros Raskovski (lead guitar), Rev Jones (Bass), and Mike Humbert (drums).
With excitement spread throughout the audience, Jones came crashing out wearing a leopard print hat, instantly drawing all the attention to him. He swung his bass around close to the ground like a pendulum and the rest of the band joined in for “Blood Pollution” and “Livin’ The Life,” both songs from the fictional Steel Dragon featured in 2001’s Rock Star. Through “Gimme Gimme,” power ballad “I’ll Never Let You Go,” and “Everybody Loves Eileen,” Matijevic showed off the wild vocals he has become known for over the years. By the time the last song was up, a beach ball was floating around the pavilion via the crowd, and Matijevic immersed himself in fans, walking around the pavilion seating and taking pictures while singing “We All Die Young.” Perhaps one of the most powerful vocalists of the past three decades, Matijevic was simply outstanding and fans were elated to see Steelheart back at M3 Festival.
Keeping the fun coming, next up was the band known as Adler. A new beginning for former Guns N’ Roses drummer Steven Adler, word about his new band came out around 2011 out of the ashes of Adler’s Appetite. With a lineup that is showered with talent, Adler consists of Steven Adler on drums, former Mars Electric vocalist Jacob Bunton, Guitarist Lonny Paul, and Chelsea Smiles bassist Johnny Martin. Dropping their debut album Back From The Dead in November of 2012, the band took to the road in 2013. Struggling with addiction, Steven Adler battled through and the band returned in the summer of 2015, and the music has been going strong since.
Starting off with a power-packed cover of Guns N’ Roses’ “Night Train” and “Mr. Brownstone,” they then led into a track from their Back From The Dead album called “Good To Be Bad.” Overcoming technical issues, they put on an excellent rendition of “Sweet Child O’ Mine” that had everyone’s hands in the air. As a bonus, Gabbie Rae returned to the stage for a surprise appearance on the song, and fans were once again rocked by her stunning vocals. Last up on Adler’s list was another Guns N’ Roses song, the undeniable “Welcome To The Jungle.” A short but loved performance, fans that missed the show at M3 can catch Adler at the Monsters Of Rock Cruise – West Coast this coming October.
With the sun finally peeking out from behind the clouds, Y & T were next to the stage. Forming in 1974 out of Oakland, California, Y & T led the way for the genre known as Hard Rock. From stage presence to the specific sound they created, along with the longevity, Y & T has solidified their status as Rock legends. Today, Y & T is made up of Dave Meniketti (vocals, lead guitar), John Nymann (backing vocals, guitar), Mike Vanderhule (backing vocals, drums, percussion), and Brad Lang (backing vocals, bass guitar).
They kicked the excitement off with 1982’s “Black Tiger” before going into 1983’s “Mean Streak.” Provoking the crowd to join in, everyone was singing and bobbing their heads along to the beat, thoroughly enjoying every song. Moving on, “Take You To The Limit” and “I’m Coming Home” came before “Contagious” where Meniketti had the crowd singing along with him even more loudly. Offering up the hit “Summertime Girls,” “Rescue Me,” and “Squeeze” came before set closer “Forever,” which saw Stryper’s Michael Sweet join them on stage. By the end of Y & T’s set, everyone was roaring in appreciation. Those who have not had the pleasure of seeing the band live, they will be finishing up some North American shows in June before a long stretch in Europe this coming September and October.
Up next was the incredibly accomplished Stephen Pearcy. The former Ratt lead singer has always been busy with one project or another through the years. Always a delight to see live, Pearcy’s distinctive voice is what helped make Ratt the major success they were with several gold and multi-platinum albums. With that said, Pearcy, along with his band consisting of Erik Ferentinos (guitar, backing vocals), Matt Thorne (bass, keyboards, backing vocals), Greg D’Angelo (drums), and Chris Hager (guitar), were ready to offer M3 Festival a good dose of Rock.
With a booming introduction, Pearcy took to the stage with his hood up for 1985’s “You’re In Love.” Fans flocked back to their seats in a hurry, not wanting to miss a thing, as the band continued on with other Ratt favorites such as “Lay It Down,” “Wanted Man,” “Back For More” and mega-hit “Round And Round.” With each Ratt cut, Pearcy kept the crowd pumped up and having an absolute blast as his band provided a razor sharp sound. Last releasing a solo album in 2011 entitled Suckerpunch, fans patiently wait for his next solo album as Pearcy makes the rounds on tour with eleven shows already planned for 2016.
Adding even more to the energetic flow of the day, next came Charlotte, North Carolina’s Firehouse. Currently on tour in honor their 25th anniversary, with multiple chart-topping hits, several gold and platinum albums, and numerous awards, they certainly have plenty to celebrate. Formed back in 1989, Firehouse achieved Rockstar status and has kept themselves very active through the years with their core lineup of Vocalist C.J. Snare, Guitarist Bill Leverty, and Drummer Michael Foster, along with Bassist Allen McKenzie since 2004.
Opening with a 1980s spacey introduction, Firehouse quickly rocked fans with “Shake & Tumble.” Going right for the hits, they went into “All She Wrote” before they asked the crowd to vote on which song they should play next. The crowd cheered loudly and deciding on “When I Look Into Your Eyes.” A fitting selection, the band followed up with “Overnight Sensation,” which featured an awesome guitar solo from Leverty. Still lighting up the stage, they went into one of the most chosen wedding songs over the past two decades, “Love Of A Lifetime.” Still sounding amazing on vocals, Snare’s performance was even until the end where they concluded with “Reach For The Sky” and the catchy hit “Don’t Treat Me Bad.” The 25th anniversary tour continues through the summer, so do not miss it.
Almost halfway into the day, it came time for the legendary Quiet Riot. From inspiring a list of artists, to the mega success of 1983’s Metal Health, the band has built a story worth telling. In fact, in 2014, they released an incredible documentary entitled Well Now You’re Here, There’s No Way Back, telling the story of their journey. Tragically losing original lead vocalist Kevin DuBrow in 2007, the band recollected a few years later with Jizzy Pearl taking the microphone. Now writing a new chapter in their history, Quiet Riot now consist of founding drummer Frank Banali, longtime bassist Chuck Wright, Guitarist Alex Grossi, and Pearl on vocals.
Introduced with the famous Queen “We Will Rock You” anthem interlude before a dramatically growled “Quiet Riot,” electrifying the crowd, they ran out to rattle off “Run For Cover,” “Slick Black Cadillac,” and a cover of Slades’ “Mama Weer All Crazee Now” with Grossi stepping into the light to showcase awesome talent on his guitar. Fans sang each song with passion as Quiet Riot moved into “Party All Night,” “Let’s Get Crazy,” and their ever popular rendition of Slades’ “Cum On Feel The Noize.” Saving the best for last, “Mental Health (Bang Your Head)” saw many fans shaking their fists along with the lyrics and the beat as a intense send off.
The highly anticipated Slaughter were on tap next. Formed out of Las Vegas, Nevada, the band attained success in the ’90s with several platinum certified albums. Currently consisting of Mark Slaughter (lead vocals, guitar, keyboard), Dana Strum (bass, backing vocals), Zoltan Chaney (drums), and Jeff “Blando” Bland (lead guitar, backing vocals), Slaughter were ready to pump out one rowdy Rock show.
Opening with “The Wild Life,” Slaughter entertained the masses with crazy vocals before they played on with “Burnin’ Bridges.” With Chaney tearing up the drum kit, they sped into “Spend My Life” before Slaughter introduced the band before they played an extended jam-like version of “Mad About You.” Keeping everyone moving, “Eye To Eye” proved to be a crowd favorite before “Real Love” and “Fly To The Angels” where Slaughter made a special dedication of the whole performance of the song to the late, great Prince. Met with a sea of cheers, it was an emotional performance before the band polished off their set with the signature “Up All Night.” With shows already planned out as far as the beginning of 2017, fans can catch the next live performance of Slaughter on May 25th, 2016 at the David Palmer Arena in Danville, Illinois.
Another M3 Festival alumni, Night Ranger were welcomed back with open arms. Changing up the scene back in the early ’80s, Night Ranger embodies everything the decade was known for; powerful vocals and larger than life guitars. Born out of San Francisco, Night Ranger saw immediate success beginning with 1982’s Dawn Patrol. Since then, Night Ranger has been going strong, and over the past five years have toured constantly, most recently supporting the impressive 2014 album High Road.
Night Ranger introduced themselves with band members Kelly Keagy (drums), Brad Gillis (lead and rhythm guitar, backup vocals), Jack Blades (bass guitar, lead and backup vocals, acoustic and rhythm guitar), Eric Levy (Keyboards, backup vocals), and Keri Kelli (lead and rhythm guitars) standing on stage props for a very dramatic intro for 1983’s “Touch Of Madness.” With Keagy and his kit placed on the right side of the stage to better accommodate the band, each member was given a chance to shine as they played “Next was Sing Me Away” and “Four In The Morning” before the stage lights dimmed to only show the band’s band logo behind them.
Having everyone’s full attention, they went into Damn Yankees’ “Coming Of Age” and then new song “High Road.” With fantastic musicianship, they dazzled the audience both on keyboards and guitar as the set moved on with “Eddie’s Comin’ Out Tonight” and another Damn Yankees’ hit, “High Enough.” As everyone sang along, they were then treated to “When You Close Your Eyes” and the blistering “Don’t Tell Me You Love Me,” which saw the band sprinkle in a bit of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” Toward the end of the set, Keagy led the hit “Sister Christian” with a passionate performance, even joining the band at the front of the stage. As a finale, an American flag appeared on the screen behind the band as they played favorite, “(You Can Still) Rock In America.” Road warriors, Night Ranger stick to the high all summer long doing what they do best, put on killer Rock-n-Roll shows.
With only a handful of acts left, one of the most anticipated acts of the night was Cinderella’s Tom Keifer. From an early age, Keifer knew he wanted to pursue a career in music and directly out of high school, began playing with different bands. After overcoming addictions, Keifer created Cinderella, and was eventually discovered by Jon Bon Jovi in 1985. Known for his growling style vocals and talent with a guitar, it was no wonder Cinderella garnered so much attention. Sadly, in the early ’90s, Keifer lost his voice and it was soon discovered he had a paralysis of the left cord. Refusing to give up, he battled through surgeries and vocal training, and in 2013 finally released his solo album The Way Life Goes.
With a longer set list, Keifer started out with a Cinderella track, “Once Around The Ride,” before showcasing his solo track, “It’s Not Enough.” Four more Cinderella songs followed with the well-known “Heartbreak Station,” “Somebody Save Me,” “Shake Me,” and “Don’t Know What You’ve Got (Till It’s Gone).” The last of the four saw Keifer’s wife, Savannah Snow, join him onstage for a delightful duet. Keeping the audience excited, Keifer moved into “Nobody’s Fool” before another solo track, “Solid Ground.” Sounding strong vocally and showing he was gracious to be on stage, Keifer kept the Cinderella favorites coming with “Night Songs,” “Coming Home,” and “Shelter Me.”
Showing some of his influences, he would play on with a cover of The Beatles “With A Little Help From My Friends,” which was met with thunderous applause that continued through his tribute to Prince with a touching cover of “Purple Rain.” Not disappointing a soul in the venue, Keifer wrapped up the set with “Gypsy Road.” Keifer’s stage presence was outstanding, but is even more remarkable is his inspiring hard work and determination to continue performing.
With night fully set in, it came time for Queensrÿche to light up the stage. Having enjoyed a solid fan base throughout their career, Queensrÿche set themselves apart with their Progressive Metal sound and sophisticated lyrics. Later, they became known for their visual acts as well as their music, and as a result, Queensrÿche has been nominated for several awards. Releasing fifteen studio albums, the most recent of which was 2015’s Condition Hüman, the band continues to offer everything the fans have come to love about them. Currently configured as Todd La Torre on lead vocals since 2012 and Parker Lundgren on guitar/backup vocals since 2009, along with originals Michael Wilton on guitar/backup vocals, Eddie Jackson on bass/backup vocals, as well as Scott Rockenfield on drums/keyboard, Queensrÿche were ready to make their third appearance at M3 Festival.
Opening with a fireworks visual on the screen behind them, Queensrÿche appeared on stage, one after the other, to the excitement of the crowd. Featuring a jolting drum line and fiery guitar solo, “Guardian” came before “Operation: Mindcrime” began with a cartoon visual. Keeping the set diverse and bright, “Best I Can” featured choir-like vocals before “Damaged” saw Lundgren and Wilton face each directly, almost as if drawing on the energy of one another. Slowing things down slightly, “Silent Lucidity” gave La Torre a chance to let his voice take over and the crowd was completely enthralled as they interacted.
Back to head-banging speeds, “Empire” offered more intense vocals from La Torre. Then the guitarwork behind the beloved “Queen Of The Reich” prompted the fans to get back up on their feet and moving again before “Jet City Woman.” Not be overshadowed, the work of Rockenfield was put on display for a hard-hitting drum solo followed by 1984’s “Take Hold Of The Flame.” Almost as if the music shook the heavens, the rain began pouring down as Queensrÿche began “Screaming In Digital” with Opera-like vocals that gave way to growls and screams as the backing vocals harmonized beautifully. Simply breathtaking, the set came to an end in dramatic fashion with everyone’s favorite, “Eyes Of A Stranger.” It has been four years since La Torre joined Queensrÿche, and it is performances such as these they show why the band chose him to lead them forward.
Sending M3 Festival 2016 off was veteran rockers known as Tesla. Together now for thirty years, Tesla currently consist of Jeff Keith (lead vocals), Frank Hannon (guitar, backup vocals), Brian Wheat (bass, vocals), Troy Luccketta (drums), and Dave Rude (guitar, backup vocals). Releasing a total of eight studio records since 1986, including 2014’s Simplicity, Tesla’s sound can best be described as Blues Metal. Also known as one of Rock-n-Roll’s hardest working touring bands in the USA, Tesla were also making a return to M3 Festival for the third time.
With flashing stage lights that stopped at an orange hue, Tesla jumped right into “Rock Me To The Top” with two gravelly guitars provided by Hannon and Rude. Providing for excellent showmanship, Hannon, Rude, and Wheat lined up and played in unison on “Edison’s Medicine (Man Out Of Time)” before an awesome guitar solo dropped out of the in sync performance. Keeping the excitement coming with “Gettin’ Better,” Keith was all over the stage while “Hang Tough” saw the fans singing along and “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” brought Wheat’s heavy bass to the forefront. More than halfway through their set, they pumped the audience up even more with a cover of Five Man Electrical Band’s “Signs,” which settled in with a steady beat.
Eating up the enthusiasm of the audience, Keith stopped singing during parts of “The Way It Is” to point the microphone to the crowd and they sang the song loudly, word for word. All smiles to hear, Tesla would continue to blaze through their performance with the old school guitar sound of “What You Give,” before 1989’s hit “Love Song,” and Ph. D cover “Little Suzi.” Subsequently, they saved “Modern Day Cowboy for the end and sent off everyone who attended M3 Rock Festival 2016 completely satisfied.
A two day music festival filled with some of the ’80s best Rock bands, M3 Festival has become the cornerstone for the scene that will never die. The festival has become so well-respected that many of the same bands such as Tesla and Queensrÿche keep returning. That says a lot and the festivals ability to keep the lineups each year mixed with returning favorites and rare special appearance is why it is still going strong. Fans filed out of Merriweather Post Pavilion exhausted, perhaps a little white, but already they are already making plans to return to M3 Festival in 2017.