Scorpions, Cinderella Rock M3 Festival
What happens when you mix more than 12,000 fans, extreme heat and bands like Scorpions, Kix, Cinderella, Warrant, Vince Neil and more? The answer, of course, is that you get a massive party. The second-annual M3 festival was held June 19 at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md. A suburb of Baltimore, the location meant fans could easily access the fest from all over ... and they did. A stage announcement noted that fans had come from "just about every continent, including Australia."
Scorpions are on their farewell tour, and M3 was their first big stop. Lead singer Klaus Meine was very ill and the band went on around 30 minutes late. By the end of the day, fans were exhausted and restless and two false starts by the Scorpions technical team didn't assuage the agitated mood. When Scorpions finally burst on stage, they played a diverse mix of songs ranging from the beginning of their career to their new album 'Sting in the Tail.' Even while sick, Meine belted through 40 years of hard rock history, stopping briefly to admonish an unruly fan for criticizing the band's sound. Beyond that, there was a lengthy drum solo from James Kottak and a guest appearance by Vince Neil on 'Another Piece of Meat.' Neil covers the song on his new studio album 'Tattoos & Tequila.'
Sound bleed from the second stage was a bit of a problem for much of the day, as bands overlapped each other for a song or two. The overlap got worse when it was time for Vince Neil to perform on the main stage in the early evening. Technical problems pushed Neil's set back and the issues plagued the Mötley Crüe frontman for much of the set. Still, the show must go on, and Neil and his band ripped through Crüe standards like 'Dr. Feelgood,' 'Live Wire' and 'Girls, Girls, Girls.' While Neil fought with inner ear monitors, his band -- including show-off drummer Zoltan Chaney -- played some Led Zeppelin and stalled.
Whenever a band plays to a hometown crowd, the reaction is usually pretty good. Kix fans are notoriously rabid, especially when the band plays a show anywhere near Hagerstown, Md. As expected, excitement bubbled just before Kix and plenty of fans rushed forward toward the stage to get a better look at the hometown boys. The thing about Kix is that no matter what else changes in the world, a Kix setlist remains amazingly consistent. Lead singer Steve Whiteman has been very open about not recording a new Kix record and saying he wants to give the fans a true 'back in the day' experience. This means fans are treated to songs like 'Hot Wire,' 'Cold Blood,' 'Girl Money,' 'Cold Shower' and 'Yeah, Yeah, Yeah.' Whiteman still sings with an amazingly high voice that never cracks and a mop of blond hair happily flipping in the wind. A Kix trademark is a balloon drop at the end of each live performance. Even though Kix played in the mid-afternoon, balloons were thrown into the crowd as if the band had headlined the event. Ask a lot of Maryland residents in the crowd and they'd argue Kix always deserve the headlining spot -- no matter what.
The side stage was filled with a mix of newer bands (Z02), older bands with new lead singers (Warrant) and one band with a very famous new guitarist (Nelson). It was recently announced that Mark Slaughter would be joining Nelson as a guitarist. M3 marked the first time Slaughter performed live as a member of Nelson and he seemed to do a good job. It wasn't clear, however, why he was exactly necessary as there was another 'co-lead' guitarist for the show as well. As expected, Slaughter sang a few backups, and Nelson mixed their set with some radio hits like 'Love and Affection' and some new stuff no one in the crowd seemed to recognize.
Robert Mason used to sing for Lynch Mob, and he's still the frontman of Big Cock, and these days he's also busy doing lead vocals for Warrant. The newish Warrant headlined the second stage at M3, playing every classic video hit you can imagine and the crowd ate it up, too. In fact, people were pushing and trying to squeeze through the all GA area to get closer to the stage. There was 'Big Talk' and 'Down Boys,' and basically it was Mason's crowd. Ironic since the other band members have been in Warrant for more than two decades.
Jetboy, Winger, Dingleberry Dynasty, Dizzy Reed, L.A. Guns, Bang Tango, Black Mambooza, Mass and Trixter also played the festival.