The Meister’s 2015 M3 Experience: Day #1-Friday May 1, 2015 At Merriweather Post Pavilion
Well, The Meister has once again landed back in Toronto but with a huge dejavu this time around, seems like only last week I was landing at Toronto’s Pearson Airport after a rockin’ holiday. Oh, that’s right I actually was as I returned from my fourth MORC and then promptly headed out again to my second M3. The dull underwater like silence pierced with ringing that my ears are providing me after a little nap is once again the tell-tale sign of another great rock filled experience. As per usual many good friends were met and also made during this two day festival in Columbia, Maryland. With a whole slew of talented musicians gracing the stages of this festival, let’s backtrack a bit and start with the first day of the actual festival as I recount to the best of my ability the awesome performances and events surrounding M3 2015. For the events at the M-Pre-Party please refer to Lady Beast Destroys Sonoma’s
The day began with breakfast at the hotel with some friends who travelled all the way from Brasil for the event, as they did last year as well. On the way out from breakfast, I had to steer Olivier away from Mr. Chuck Wright, bassist from Quiet Riot as he wasn’t thinking and was about to approach. Never bother the artist while they are eating! The next couple hours were spent relaxing and shopping at the mall across the street. We arrived at the Merriweather Post Pavilion around 2:30pm thinking that Jack Russell had been advertised as starting his VIP only set at 3pm, but it turns out he was starting at 2:30! By the time we got through the gates and I stopped for an expensive beer we got to our seats in time for “Down On Your Knees”. Jack Russell‘s acoustic set saw him and Robby Lochner on guitar run through “Save Your Love”, “Hard Habit”, “Rock Me” and some cover tunes as well. We took our leave a bit early to collect our VIP bags, containing a t-shirt and other trinkets before the line got too large and along the way ran into our Brasilian friends. Jack Russell’s Website / Jack Russell’s Pirate Page Facebook / Jack Russell’s Twitter
Back at our seats it was time for Korupt. They are a cover band from the local Maryland area and have appeared at the festival in past years as well. Unfortunately in March the band suffered a devastating loss with the death of frontman and founding member Sean McCall, but they soldiered on for this set with Buddy Zappa at the helm. They played their own compositions as well as some classic metal tunes such as Megadeth‘s “Symphony of Destruction” and Accept‘s “Balls To The Wall”, some sounding better than others of course which is always the case with a cover band as you instantly compare to the original in your head. I fully understand what they have been through and I mean no disrespect, but I just don’t feel that they belong on the bill for M3 and that simply stems from the fact that the other bands for today are limited to 45 minute set times (except KIX who play more than twice the length of any other band for the whole festival!). The Saturday schedule is way worse with bands only seeing half an hour stage times in most cases. I personally would much rather see the sets balanced out a little more with the bigger names and drop acts such as Korupt and Saturday’s Bad Seed Rising, or have a third “local stage”. Korupt Website / Korupt Facebook
Trixter formed in 1983 in New Jersey by guitarist Steve Brown and vocalist Pete Loran, with drummer Mark “Gus” Scott coming in a bit later. 1988 saw bassist PJ Farley join the fold to complete the classic lineup and their debut album hit stores in 1990. A twelve-year hiatus thanks to the evils of grunge ended when they reunited in 2008 and 2012 saw a brand new Trixter album, New Audio Machine. Trixter is a band that I’ve never really taken to in the past, but always feel that I should for some reason. I saw them a little last year in Miami during the Monsters Of Rock pre-cruise activities and remember thinking then that they sounded good and I should make a point to listen to them when I get back home. So here we are a year later and I’m saying the exact same thing, not having followed through last year. They started off with their latest single taken from the forthcoming Human Era album, “Rocking To The Edge Of Night” and also featured their biggest hits “Line Of Fire”, “Give It To Me Good” and “One In A Million” which I was able to capture on video coming soon to Decibel Geek’s YouTube Chanel. Also, watch out for Decibel Geek‘s review of Trixter‘s forthcoming album Human Era coming in the near future. Trixter Website / Trixter Facebook / Trixter Twitter / BUY: TRIXTER-Human Era
Dio Disciples slotted for 45 minutes between 5:45-6:30, were next up. I had seen this awesome tribute to the late great vocalist Ronnie James Dio on several previous occasions including Toronto’s Rockpile Bar and The Monsters Of Rock Cruises. The outfit consists of members of Dio‘s band throughout the years and also some close friends paying tribute to the fallen hero with Craig Goldy (guitar), Scott Warren (keyboards), Simon Wright (drums), Bjorn Englen (bass) and vocals shared between Oni Logan and Mark Boals. Mark Boals, however, would not be with Dio Disciples tonight, but in his place was Joe Retta. Joe Retta took charge of the microphone first as they opened with “Holy Diver”, but Oni Logan soon took over for “Egypt (The Chains Are On)”. Dio Disciples covered all facets of Ronnie James Dio‘s lustrous career and Rainbow‘s “Stargazer” saw both vocalists teaming up as I captured the number on video. Representing Dio‘s time at the helm of Black Sabbath we were treated to “Heaven And Hell” as the closer while “Stand Up And Shout”, “The Last In Line”, “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll” and “Man On The Silver Mountain” filled out the setlist. Dio Disciples Website / Dio Disciples Facebook / Dio Disciples Twitter
Quiet Riot have long been nestled in my album collection, yes I do mean that I have several Quiet Riot vinyl editions in my possession, all bought with my hard earned paper route money in much younger days. Although I don’t really remember it too well I did experience the pleasure of seeing Quiet Riot perform with original frontman Kevin DuBrow at a small club in Toronto back in the early 90’s as they toured in support of the Terrified album. They severely impressed again years later in Toronto after the death of Kevin DuBrow when they toured with Scott Vokoun at the head of the outfit. Now former Love/Hate frontman Jizzy Pearl fronts the band and they delivered an engaging performance aboard last year’s Monsters Of Rock Cruise, so I knew what to expect tonight. They ripped through the classics from the most popular times of Quiet Riot releases but sadly didn’t include anything from the excellent 2014 issued album with Pearl simply titled 10 (read the Decibel Geek review here: Bang Thy Head-Quiet Riot Lives!). Alongside Pearl is Quiet Riot stalwart Frankie Banali (drums), Alex Grossi (guitar) and Chuck Wright (bass). 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 the Metal Health album! Quiet Riot Website / Quiet Riot Facebook / Quiet Riot Twitter
After hearing many, many derogatory things about Don Dokken and his vocal prowess or lack thereof in the past few years I was still stoked to catch this set. Dokken was one of only two big name acts on the M3 bill (Warrant being the other) that I had not had the opportunity to see live in the past and some of those early Dokken releases resulted in worn out cassette tapes and heavily scratched LP’s due to overplay in days of my youth. Despite the near complete and total lambasting that his performance has been receiving in the social media circus, I actually really enjoyed Dokken. Granted his voice was not at all what it once was and everything is presented in a lower register, but the band was tight and it was great to hear these classics in a live setting. Eddie Trunk and Jack Russell introduced Dokken, who has quite obviously beefed up a bit in recent years. “Kiss Of Death” got things rolling and before long we had been through “The Hunter”, “Dream Warriors” (“a motherfucker to sing” Dokken quipped), and “Into The Fire”. A humorous story of having to sell Mick Brown‘s drums while in Germany years ago took us into “Breaking The Chains” and “Alone Again”, “In My Dreams” and “Tooth & Nail” brought us to the closer of “Just Got Lucky”. By the time Dokken was complete, so was my voice, but let’s be fair it was already weak and still recovering from the Lady Beast set last night anyway. Watch for a couple of videos from this set coming soon to Decibel Geek’s YouTube Channel. Dokken Website / Dokken Facebook / Dokken Twitter
To end this most excellent night of rocking and rolling would be KIX. KIX are the hometown favorite and I assume, therefore, have been granted a time slot of 9pm-10:40, at least twice as long as any other band and more than three times the length of some of tomorrow’s sets. Now I like KIX, don’t get me wrong and their latest effort, Rock Your Face Off, falls nicely in line with their back catalog, but I hope I don’t get lynched for printing this: enough already! Why don’t we just rename this KIX Festival? For me personally to see them given this much stage time when other bands such as KiLLeR DWaRfS, Tyketto, Black ‘n’ Blue and Rhino Bucket only receive a half hour is ridiculous. Even ahead of the other acts this evening at an average of 45 minutes per set, KIX‘s hour and forty minutes is overkill in my eyes. I would rather have seen bands like Korupt and Bad Seed Rising moved to a third stage (such as over by the meet & greet area or something), KIX dropped to 1:15/1:20 and extend some of the other band sets. In any case….
KIX blasted out with “Wheels In Motion” a great track from the Rock Your Face Off record that I was able to capture on video. Seeing KIX live on the inaugural Monsters Of Rock Cruise in 2012 is what vaulted me from casual fan to rabid entire discography owning fan. Steve Whiteman is a charismatic frontman whose between-song monologs are peppered with humorous stories and the band featuring Brian Forsythe, Ronnie Younkins, Jimmy Chalfant, all members of the “classic” lineup with Mark Schenker filling in Donnie Purnell‘s bass position since 2003, sounded great live. One of Whiteman‘s funny tirades concerned “honor your mother” which I assume was in relation to the approaching Mother’s Day. He expanded on his comments to include “mine used to beat me with a flip-flop, which doesn’t really hurt all that much”, you had to be there probably, but I thought it was funny. I lingered for about half of the set hearing “Girl Money”, “No Ring Around Rosie”, “You’re Gone”, “Sex”, “The Itch”, “Midnite Dynamite” and departed during “Don’t Close Your Eyes” with the intention of securing a decent or even any seat at Clyde’s Restaurant for any after party activities and shenanigans. KIX Website / KIX Facebook / KIX Twitter
Grabbing the free shuttle from Merriweather Post Pavilion over to the Sheraton Hotel who do we see crowded out front of the hotel as we clamber out of the van? Why it’s none other than our Canadian compatriots, The KiLLeR DWaRfS, with what appears to be a magnum-sized bottle of wine or champagne no less! With drummer, Darrell “DWaRf” Millar set to usher in his birthday at the stroke of midnight it was off to Clyde‘s for dinner with the DWaRfS. It was great to see how these four boys interact with their fans, always stopping to chat, take a photo, sign an autograph and passing out souvenir guitar pics left right and center. A great grass-roots way to get in touch with those that buy your music and build your fan base making each person feel special, they truly do appreciate the fans all the way! Perhaps a few other bands should take note, just sayin’.