Even veteran rock stars get the pre-show jitters sometimes. "I gotta admit, I was nervous!" said Kix singer Steve Whiteman about his band's headlining slot at the M3 festival in Columbia, Maryland on May 13. The fest, held annually at Merriweather Post Pavilion, was expanded to two nights for the first time ever to include a special Kix-Off party. Friday's Kix-Off featured performances by Black Mambooza, Jetboy, L.A. Guns, Warrant, and Kix. Saturday featured two stages with performances by Modern Superstar, Danger Danger, Firehouse, Slaughter, Great White, Mr. Big, Sebastian Bach, Tesla, Korupt, Pretty Boy Floyd, Hurtsmile, Black n' Blue, Faster Pussycat, Big Noize and Lita Ford. Whitesnake headlined the festival.

Some bands like Whitesnake, Mr. Big, and Warrant, all more than 20 years into their careers, were promoting new albums. Other acts on the bill were completely new but fronted by veterans, such as Gary Cherone's Hurtsmile. The fest also featured classic '80s glam acts that don't release new music but keep giving fans the songs they want to hear, such as Kix and Pretty Boy Floyd.

Charles Shanks

Friday night belonged to Kix. Even the cold and rainy weather couldn't keep the Maryland faithful away. In Maryland, the band is about as big as AC/DC. Kix got the full headliner treatment, including video introductions by 'That Metal Show' host Eddie Trunk and former Guns n' Roses drummer Steven Adler. After the customary band logo banner drop, the guitar intro to 'Ring Around Rosie' got things off to a proper start. Between songs, Whiteman repeatedly commented on the number of people packed into the pavilion to see the band, which easily topped 10,000. Set highlights included the acoustic 'For Shame,' 'Hot Wire,' and 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah,' complete with balloon drop.

Charles Shanks

Saturday's sets began early, before noon. With two stages, fans had to pick and choose which songs to watch and which to forgo in order to see at least a bit of every act. Faster Pussycat, dressed more like Marilyn Manson but hair metal to the hilt, had the biggest side stage crowd of the day. Hurtsmile were another side stage success, playing songs from their self-titled debut and throwing in a Van Halen and Extreme tune for good measure.

Rockers can also be a patriotic bunch: both Danger Danger and Sebastian Bach dedicated songs to Navy SEAL Team 6. Bach also got the crowd to chant of "USA! USA!" after saying "Don't mess with America... they put a bullet through his eye," referencing the recent assassination of terrorist Osama bin Laden. Bach also joked that performing at M3 was "more fun than jail," referring to his arrest for marijuana possession just two days earlier.

Charles Shanks

Big Noize is a new supergroup featuring singer Joe Lynn Turner, guitarist Carlos Cavazo, bassist Phil Soussan, and drummer Vinny Appice. With perhaps the best setlist of the weekend, Big Noize dedicated their set to Ronnie James Dio and proceeded to rip through many Dio and Rainbow tunes. The band also played some Quiet Riot and Ozzy Osbourne classics. During the show, Warrant singer Robert Mason jumped on stage while Danger Danger drummer Steve West watched from the wings.

As the evening wore on, the cold and wet weather got worse. However, the unpleasant conditions didn't deter people from walking between stages or continuing to fill the lawn in anticipation of headliners Whitesnake.

Charles Shanks

Whitesnake's set took an interesting turn, comprised of long blocks of new songs mixed in with older material. There were also dueling solos by guitarists Doug Aldrich and Reb Beach. Singer David Coverdale incited several crowd sing-alongs during the band's hits, but the increasingly bad weather seemed to finally be getting to the crowd. By this point, cold and damp rockers began filing out of the venue. Unfazed, Whitesnake -- and M3 -- ended on a high note with a performance of 'Still of the Night.'

Watch the video for Tesla's 'Love Song'

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