The time had come, the final day of the M3 Rock Festival. Though fans were exhausted, there was still a contagious excitement for the eight bands left of the weekend. It was the 4th of July, and the audience was decked out in red, white and blue garb in celebration of their country. It was time to rock once more before heading home for the weekend.
Day Three – M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavilion
Lineup: Little Caesar, Pretty Boy Floyd, Faster Pussycat, Riley’s L.A. Guns, Lita Ford, Great White, Warrant, Night Ranger
Words and photography: Shannon Wilk
The day started off pretty mellow with the guys in Little Caesar putting on a ten-song set of bluesy rock ‘n’ roll, including covers of Aretha Franklin’s Chain Of Fools (a hit single from the bands 1989 debut album) and Merle Haggard’s Mama Tried
This band has been kickin’ it since 1987, and three out of the five original members remain active in the band today. This guaranteed the audience would be transported into a “Rock ‘N’ Roll State Of Mind” from that moment through the rest of the day.
Pretty Boy Floyd
A band totally opposite to the previous, Pretty Boy Floyd, took the stage at 1:30 PM with full face paint and makeup, black instruments slung over their shoulders, and Jack Daniels in hand.
In celebration of the 30th anniversary of the album Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz, the band planned on playing the album in its entirety. But singer Steve Summers was having way too much fun talking with the crowd, and they ended up running out of time for The Last Kiss.
But the Hollywood rockers truly kicked it up to an eleven and set the bar high for the rest of the artists on Sunday. The Pretty Boy Floyd set was followed by Ari Kamin, frontman for the Steven Adler band, who performed a beautiful, unique rendition of the national anthem to celebrate Independence Day.
It was now Faster Pussycat’s time to shine, continuing the sleazy attitude established by Pretty Boy Floyd. Opening the show with the chugging riff of Where There’s A Whip There’s A Way was a perfect way to get the crowd headbanging.
In addition to the classic Faster Pussycat tunes, the set also featured their latest singles, NOLA and their covers of Johnny Thunders’ Pirate Love and Shut Up And Fuck, by Betty Blowtorch. Unlike many bands from the ’80s, Faster Pussycat’s new songs were received just as well, in a live setting, as their iconic songs from back then and their superb rendition of Babylon was a classic way to end an excellent set.
Riley’s L.A. Guns
The fourth and perhaps the most controversial band of the day was Riley’s L.A. Guns. The band is the latest project of the original L.A. Guns rhythm section, drummer Steve Riley and bassist Kelly Nickels.
With the two existing versions of L.A. Guns releasing music, it seemed as though people were sceptical when it came to this particular group. After seeing their hour-long set filled with classic L.A. Guns tunes, all I can say is they did not hold a candle to the Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns version of the band.
The original queen of rock ‘n’ roll herself, Lita Ford strutted onstage in a red leather jumpsuit with her iconic red B.C. Rich Warlock guitar in hand, and she was most certainly ready to rock. One of the best parts of her ten-song set was her and guitarist Patrick Kennison’s vocal duet on Close My Eyes Forever, originally performed by Ozzy Osbourne and Lita herself.
The set also included versions of Elton Johns The Bitch Is Back, Alice Coopers Only Women Bleed, and of course, The Runaways Cherry Bomb. Aftershow chatter deemed Lita Ford a fan favourite for the day!
Come 6:35 PM, and it was time for Great White. This was another show that was surprisingly mellow musically – filled with bluesy, slower tunes. Despite these differences, they did not disappoint when it came to the performance aspect. For the celebration of Independence Day, the band’s logo featured an American flag.
Great White is yet another band with multiple versions – Jack Russell’s Great White and Great White (featuring original guitarist Mark Kendall). Both of these bands are fantastic, but this weekend the M3 crowd was entirely wowed by Mark Kendall’s band.
Hollywood hard rockers Warrant were next up celebrating the 30th anniversary of their second album, Cherry Pie. Not only did they play the album in its entirety, but they also threw in the hits from their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich.
It was clear that Warrant surely knew how to put on a killer rock show, and when the audience was passionately singing the chorus to Down Boys, even vocalist Robert Mason couldn’t help but smile.
The headliners of the night were Night Ranger. Leading up to the show, people could not say enough good things about the band, so I had high expectations going into their set.
Not only did the band sound fantastic, but the lights and smoke, as well as the chemistry between the band members, brought the show to the next level.
Theirs was a hit laden set, including Sister Christian and five other tracks from their second album, Midnight Madness. Jack Blades’ Damn Yankees tracks High Enough, and Coming Of Age were great fun, and at one point, the entire band all had drum sticks and played a drum solo altogether.
This was a great end to a tremendous three-day festival.
With all the problems of the last couple of years, that we were able to come together this way to celebrate ’80s arena rock was thoroughly enjoyable and a great testament to the organization of the M3 Rock Festival.
The M3 Rock Festival was the proof we needed that ‘(You Can Still) Rock In America’.