Updated: May 15, 2018
Last weekend, I was lucky enough to attend Day 2 of the legendary, annual M3 Rock Festival in Columbia, MD on May 5th. The fest was celebrating it’s ten year anniversary this year at the Merriweather Post Pavilion and brought some amazing acts along for the ride. Iconic performers such as Ace Frehley, Sebastian Bach, Lynch Mob, Warrant, Night Ranger, Queensrÿche, and more took the stage.
Upon arrival, the first act I saw was Great White; not to be confused with Jack Russell’s Great White. The band was subbed in for Loudness who was originally supposed to play, but due to impending visa issues could not. The band played their classic hits, of course, such as ‘Lady Red Light’, ‘Rock Me’, and of course ‘Once Bitten Twice Shy’ getting fans in the eighties mood.
Up next was Last In Line. This was my first time seeing these guys, and to be honest, I had my initial doubts. There, of course, have been the debates between both iconic Dio tribute groups. One being Dio Disciples; backed by Wendy Dio and of course is known for the highly debated Dio hologram, and the other being Last In Line which includes members of the original Dio band who played on his biggest records including Holy Diver and Last In Line. Last In Line was definitely a highlight of the day, and truthfully their performance blew me away. Andrew Freeman, taking over the role of Dio, definitely did the man justice and sang the music with such respect. I never had the opportunity to see Ronnie live, and getting to see such a spot on tribute to him was pretty cool. They covered some of Dio’s biggest songs including ‘Holy Diver’, ‘Rainbow In The Dark’, ‘Stand Up And Shout’, and more. They also threw an original, ‘The Devil In Me’ into the set.
After Last In Line was the mighty Lynch Mob being fronted by Warrant and ‘former’ Lynch Mob vocalist, Robert Mason who played a short acoustic set with Warrant earlier in the day. Upon Oni Logan’s recent departure from the band, Robert Mason has taken the role once again as Lynch Mob’s (temporary?) frontman. If you know me, you know just how much I love Dokken, so seeing the almighty George Lynch and friends was a blast. The band played some of their more notable tunes such as ‘Sweet Sister Mercy’, ‘She’s Evil But She’s Mine’, of course ‘Wicked Sensation’, and more. They even threw in some Dokken tunes including ‘It’s Not Love’ and ‘Alone Again’ for good measure (which made me very happy)!
Following Lynch Mob was Stryper. The band played their well known songs such as ‘To Hell With The Devil’ and ‘Soldiers Under Command’ as well as a few songs from their new album God Damn Evil released on April 11th of this year. The band got a great reception from the audience and fans on the lawn were rockin’ despite the rain that took over Maryland during the afternoon.
Slaughter took the stage next and once again had a fantastic reception from the audience. They played some of their biggest tunes of course including ‘Up All Night’ and ‘Fly To The Angels’, and more. Watching their set side-stage, one of the most enjoyable parts of the performance (as told by other fans as well) was drummer Zoltan Chaney’s incredible energy. He truly gave everything he had to the performance, and fans noticed. It was also so fun seeing guitarist Chris Green’s (of Tyketto) very young son hop up onstage with the band to do some dancing during ‘Up All Night’—proof that this music really is transcending generations!
Sebastian Bach was one of my favorite acts of the night. I had the chance to photograph him at the beginning of his set, which for me was so much fun as he has such an incredible stage presence, and is one of my absolute favorite performers. He hilariously told the audience about how he had to rush onto the stage because the band started playing the first song while he was in the bathroom—of course gaining a laugh from us all. He played the big Skid Row hits including ‘18 And Life’, ‘I Remember You’, and ‘Youth Gone Wild’. He also played some other songs from Skid Row’s debut record including ‘Piece of Me’ and ‘Rattlesnake Shake’, and even threw in ‘American Metalhead’ from his solo record Angel Down. My only complaint about Sebastian’s set was his lack of solo material as I’m a huge fan of his 2014 release Give ‘Em Hell. But I know when performing to an audience of 80’s rockers, Skid Row’s catalog is a winner. All in all, his set was fantastic and he is always someone I look forward to seeing.
Ace Frehley was also a major highlight of the night because naturally, who doesn’t love The Spaceman? Having seen Ace put on a killer show before, I was a little confused as to why he was barely singing the songs, and not quite as energetic as he usually is. Rumors circulated about him being drunk which was total bullshit if I’m being completely blunt here. After everything Ace went through to get sober, any real Ace Frehley fan knows he wasn’t drunk—and anyone helping to spread that rumor is completely talking out of their ass. Anyways, small rant over, Ace was actually struggling with bronchitis which proved to be the reason for a bit of an off night—but all in all, his set was still extremely fun. He played many fan favorites— ‘Rock Soldiers’ (Ace is back and he told you so!), ‘New York Groove’ and ‘Rip It Out’, as well as some of his signature tunes with KISS such as ‘Shock Me’, ‘Cold Gin’, ‘Parasite, ‘Detroit Rock City’, and even more. .
The second to last band of the night was Night Ranger, who argued by many M3 attendees, stole the show. I have to completely agree with the fact that the band was incredibly tight, and it seemed that almost nothing had changed since the band originally joined forces in the late 70’s. They played their everlasting track ‘Sister Christian’, as well as some of their other hits including ‘Don’t Tell Me You Love Me’ and ‘Rock In America’. They also threw in some tunes by Damn Yankees as Jack Blades, a longtime member of Night Ranger, was part of the popular group in the late 80’s. Throwing in songs like ‘Coming of Age’ and ‘High Enough’ made every single fan happy.
Lastly, closing out this year’s M3 Rock Festival was hard rock band Queensrÿche; now fronted by vocalist Todd La Torre. Being a big Queensrÿche fan, and a big fan of the original line-up, I was not sure what to expect from Torre. All in all, he knocked it out of the park, replicating the same vocal stylings as original Queensrÿche frontman Geoff Tate and helping to create the classic Rÿche sound that so many know and love. Arguably the band’s biggest record, Operation: Mindcrime, celebrated it’s 30th birthday on May 2nd, and to celebrate, the band played some of their enormous hits from the record like ‘Breaking The Silence’, ‘I Don’t Believe In Love’ and ‘Eyes of a Stranger.’ They also performed songs from the band’s groundbreaking album Empire, and even some tunes from their most recent release, Condition Human.
Overall, this year’s M3-kend was a blast. The atmosphere at this 'fest is unbelievable. It’s a weekend of making new friends and seeing old ones, and it’s so great to see so many people in one place who are just as in love with this music as I am.
If you’re curious as to the exact setlists of every band who performed at this years M3 Rock Festival, you can check it out by clicking here.
You were a lot of fun Maryland—until next year M3!
This show gets 🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻🤘🏻 from me!