Well, The Monsters Of Rock Cruise has docked, I’ve left the ship, the world has discontinued to sway back and forth, but the rock never stops when you’re a Decibel Geek! Fresh off the boat so to speak, The Meister is preparing to hit up the M3 Festival in Baltimore, Maryland for his second time in as many years. Thanks to a friend (Cliff Koehler) made through MORC‘s past, I attended my first M3 Festival in 2014, a new addiction given birth!
This year at M3 promises to be bigger and better with a solid lineup of some of the rock bands that have helped to shape my life throughout the years. While there are only two bands on the roster that I’ve not seen previously (many having appeared again on MORC 2015 just days before) each and everyone delivers (well except for one) a fantastic performance and as I learned last year, it seems that the bands “bring it” just a little harder at this event. Barely off the cruise many might ask why I would just the week after returning head out again to the small two-day event that features basically the same bands that were just on the cruise. Well, music feeds my soul, especially live music. Throw in some great friends new and old (and this year I’ve lost count of how many friends are going), from the “only chatted online” folks met through the M3 Rockers Facebook group to the friends making the trek from the Toronto area as well to the bands, this event is indescribably exciting. Wrapped up in all this is a separate M Pre-party event featuring a band that I’m absolutely rabid about right now. That band is Lady Beast and if you don’t know them, change that pronto! Here’s my Decibel Geek review of the newest Lady Beast offering: Lady Beast II Cooks Up A Delicious NWOBHM Feast
So out of all the bands involved in the two-day event who am I looking forward to the most? Hard question, but one that I often get asked. Let’s see who we have here:
Jack Russell’s Great White is performing a special acoustic (I believe) set for VIP M3 attendees only and the venue doors open early for those of us in that ticket purchase bracket. While not being too pumped up about anything with the words ballad nor acoustic in them, I’m sure that this will be a magical beginning to the actual festival. Jack Russell has a charisma about him and I was severely impressed on seeing him in Toronto some time ago and also during the 2014 M3. This is an event that I will be sure not to miss. (Staff writer Bakko’s Jack Russell Storyteller Review)
Then we move on to Dio Disciples who I’ve also seen on several occasions throughout MORC and also in Toronto. I’ve met band members through different avenues and it was a great experience every time. The band delivers a solid and fitting tribute to the late great Ronnie James Dio and consists of members of his band throughout the years as well as some friends. If you haven’t seen Dio Disciples then make sure that you get there early for this set. (Stand Up And Shout: Dio Disciples Toronto review)
Trixter is the next to grace the M3 stage (according to the poster). Never being really into Trixter previously I was able to catch them last year pre-cruise in Miami and while I was unfamiliar with their catalog and I must admit a little lost, they certainly delivered an energetic show during that event. I will be planning to pay some more attention for their performance at M3 this year.
Quiet Riot made a stop in Toronto some time ago and were very impressive. At that time, Scott Vokoun handled vocals for the late great Kevin Dubrow with Chuck Wright on bass, Alex Grossi on guitar and Frankie Banali behind the kit. Some have said things like why would you bother with Quiet Riot as Banali is the only original member, and I love pointing out that bassist Chuck Wright was actually involved on Metal Health! Jizzy Pearl has since stepped in for Vokoun and Quiet Riot released 10 with him at the helm (Quiet Riot 10 album review). Pearl‘s emotional and energetic performance leading Quiet Riot is a force to be reckoned with, so come and bang your head!
With only two remaining bands on this Friday night schedule, next up is Dokken, one of the two I’ve not seen before. I’ve heard all the Don Dokken voice horror stories, but it won’t hold me back from catching this set. Some of those early Dokken releases resulted in worn out cassette tapes and heavily scratched LP’s due to overplay in days of youth. There’s a reason Dokken appears in my full sleeve tattoo depicting a guitar case “stickered” with some of my favorite bands and I’m stoked to finally see the live set.
KIX is the headliner and show closer for Friday night, the hometown heroes so to speak. The first time I saw KIX, on MORC 2012, they blew me away and I instantly went from casual fan to rabid follower! Since then I’ve seen them on every subsequent MORC and at M3 2014 as well. They delivered a new album in 2014 that falls beautifully into the back catalog and upholding exactly what I expect from the “Dirty boys of the underground”. Unfortunately, decisions are a part of life and I’m heavily leaning towards skipping KIX‘s set and catching Lady Beast as they headline a club nearby. I’ve seen KIX several times and the forecast reports that they will again surface on a subsequent cruise as well.
That about wraps up the Friday’s concert experiences and if we don’t make it to Lady Beast I’m sure that you will find me over at Clyde’s Bar as it seems to be the place for after partying and even eating, believe it or not, with fellow festival attendees. Take a look around, you just never know who’s at the table next to you as the band members themselves often hang out here after a long day.
Saturday gets things going early, probably an 11:30 or noon start if last year is to go by. Bad Seed Rising is listed first (if we remain with the ascending order of the promo poster and they are unfamiliar to me. They were on stage first on the Friday last year, but we were late and caught in the rain, missing their set.
Next up is KiLLeR DWaRfS, my hometown boys! I love this band so very much and I have absolutely no doubt that you will to after seeing their performance. The DWaRfS present one of the most entertaining live sets which often includes Russ DWaRf sporadically dropping to the ground as if his marionette strings have been cut, tricycle riding and headstands! To boot along with having been listening to their music since I was in my early teens I can now proudly call Russ, Darrell, Gerry, and Johnny friends as well….all thanks to the magic of Decibel Geek! Numerous reviews of DWaRf concerts and albums can be found on Decibel Geek along with this podcast episode: Ep.#137-Conversation With KiLLeR DWaRfS. DWaRfnation forever!
Many may not overly familiar with Rhino Bucket and I certainly hope that changes with the exposure they will hopefully be getting at M3. I discovered them originally through the Wayne’s World movie as they contributed the song “Ride With Yourself” to that soundtrack. I loved the song then as that Wayne’s World cassette saw much rotation in my first car’s stereo and now their Hardest Town album has become an oft-played gem of my collection. Coming off a blistering set on MORC this straight ahead no frills, big balls band should not be missed!
And now for Tyketto. I named these guys “Best Show on the Boat” after their emotional and engaging performances on MORC 2014! They were a band that was not on my radar and I was dragged into their performance by a friend. Something magical took place there and I was not the only one to echo that sentiment. I found myself singing along to songs I didn’t even really know I knew the words to and even felt my eyes well up with tears at the almost religious experience which still happens even now as I view the Documentally Yours DVD they sold aboard ship that year. I hold that accolade up once again even though they have some stiff competition with all time fave bands Keel and Krokus to contend with on the ship this year and I suspect they will pull ahead at M3 as well, but we’ll see how it goes. Listen to the podcast episode recap of my 2014 MORC where I proclaim Tyketto #1: EP.#132-Monsters Of Rock Cruise Memories II
Black ‘n’ Blue is a band that I became a fan of through the live experience. I knew the music but was not a huge fan, but that all changed during their set on the inaugural MORC 2012 and now I’ve seen them on subsequent cruises and also at Firefest Nottingham UK. Led by frontman Jamie St. James they deliver a great set filled with catchy tracks that have become regulars in my playlists such as “Miss Mystery”, “Wicked Bitch” and “Hold On To 18”. Black ‘n’ Blue will also be marked on my list as I attend my first Rock n Skull Festival this October in Pekin, Illinois.
I was always told if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all (which in effect says something itself, Mom!). With that in mind, I’ll say that I enjoy Bang Tango‘s CD’s and leave it at that.
Now we’re onto the ladies of Vixen. Always finding the recorded tracks to be a little to light and poppy for my tastes I was completely blown away by these ladies at MORC 2013’s pre-party and at every show since including two back to back barn burners in Toronto in October. The girls performed as JSRG at that pre-party and absolutely nailed it, quite literally knocking me on my ass (yes a bunch of girls kicked my ass….laugh as required). A thousand apologies to Vixen on my previous transgressions but I’m now banging the Vixen drum as hard as I can! Another absolute do not miss set at M3 2015. Revin’ It Up in Toronto: Vixen Concert Review
L.A. Guns has been on the circuit (my circuit that is) for the last few years appearing on the cruise, M3 and also in Toronto. I had even seen L.A. Guns back in the old days as they opened for KISS, I think or maybe it was AC/DC? Too bad I don’t remember it! Their last release, Hollywood Forever is an excellent album and although Michael Grant is a great guitarist I kinda miss that my fellow Canadian Stacey Blades is no longer in the mix. In fact this may just be one of the most stable L.A. Guns rosters as opposed to the revolving door of players seen in the past. A Decibel Geek joke is always “I’m playing with L.A. Guns next week”!
Next up is The Winery Dogs. This band is made up of some of the greatest artists of our time, Billy Sheehan, Richie Kotzen and Mike Portnoy. Given the talent in this band the album that they released should be the greatest thing I’ve ever heard…but it just isn’t there for me. While I just can’t catch their buzz there are many who rave about The Winery Dogs so I must be missing the boat somewhere here, but I will say that live they are certainly masters of their craft and even throw in some classics like “Shy Boy” so that alone is worth catching!
Y&T are tattooed on my arm and are something to behold live. Seeing them for the first time on 2012’s MORC was a truly thrilling experience that since has seen three stops in Toronto, every year on MORC and even a set at Sweden Rock 2014! Their last stop in Toronto happened to be on my birthday (something I also share with friends Amy and DBG writer Wally) and the near two and a half hour set they gave us as a gift was simply beyond words. I can’t believe that they weren’t more if a household name back in the day and Dave Meniketti‘s voice has certianly stood the test of time!
The second band on the bill I’ve not seen before appears next in Warrant. Robert Mason joined Lita Ford on stage last year (to her surprise I think) at M3 and now he’s back with the whole band. Jani Lane was one of the greats lost way before their time. But I think it’s great to see that Warrant are carrying on his legacy and also issuing awesome new music like the Rockaholic album from 2011.
Never for a second did I think that Krokus would venture into North American territory, so in 2013 I attended my first Sweden Rock Festival. If they won’t come to me, I’ll go to them! A truly religious experience there leaves me anxious and excited for their sets aboard the cruise and at M3 as well….please let them mix it up a bit and also play “Our Love”, but even if they don’t this still promises to be a highlight! Too bad that Von Arb isn’t with them, but Dominic Favez has been in the fold for some time, appearing on the Hellraiser album for one and he’ll be filling the void. So stoked for these guys to set foot again in North America! Krokus Lives: Album Review
I’m a little overdone on Queensryche personally. Don’t get me wrong they are absolutely stellar and this Todd LaTorre fronted version handles the material with ease and grace. They’ve just never been a favorite of mine particularly and they seem to be everywhere right now in the last few years. (Toronto, MORC, M3 and Sweden Rock). It’s kinda like an overload for me, but I have no doubt that Queensryche will rock the Merriweather Post Pavilion! Queensryche in Toronto Concert Review
Tom Keifer beyond impressed me in Toronto last year, something I did not expect seeing as I’m lukewarm to his solo effort The Way Life Goes. He and his band “heavied” up that material and ripped through a ton of Cinderella classics as well making me wonder what’s the future of Cinderella hold. I still don’t get over-the-top pumped about Keifer, but will be making a point to catch this set. Tom Keifer in Toronto Review
Having been able to catch Europe‘s set at Sweden Rock (available on DVD even) last year I know what we’re in for here. It was like a nostalgic trip down memory lane with the memories so thick I had to swat them away from my face as I relived my youth and the Final Countdown album. Loving that, albeit dated album, so much it was thrilling to hear some of the tracks live. Mixed in with the Europe back catalog this time will, I’m sure be selections from the stellar new album War of Kings. This new direction for Europe moves away from the pop metal sound of the 80’s and down more blues infused paths, a great progression for the band. If you’ve not yet listened to War of Kings be sure to pick it, but be fair to it and spin it at least a couple of times prior to passing judgement. War of Kings Album Review
M3 is here and I’m off to the airport raring to start another awesome rock filled weekend! I’m not sure who will be the best band of the event but even though many of these bands are near and dear to my heart I suspect that Tyketto may just rise up once again. I really don’t know what it is about those guys, but they just get me every time! Who really cares what my favorite band of the event is…..it’s all going to add up to a great weekend with friends and the music that propells me through life on a daily basis! Stay tuned…..