M3 got off to a rocky start as Friday afternoon traffic combined with heavy rain turned a 90 minute drive into a 3.5 hour drive. We completely missed Lita Ford, which really hurt the next day when I learned Cherri Curry had joined her on stage for a mini Runaways reunion. That would have been something to see.
So the first band we saw was Extreme, and they did not disappoint.They sounded great and played all the tunes you would expect in a 45 minute set. The Friday night headliner was Kix. I have never understood the infatuation with that band around DC and Baltimore. I respect the fact that they are an old school working class hard rock band that earned their fame by playing 10,000 shows in countless crappy clubs before finally getting a break. And they have a few good songs. But headlining over Extreme? That I don't get. Anyway, their set on Friday night did nothing to change my opinion. The singer, who was never a Bruce Dickenson or Rob Halford in the first place, doesn't have a whole lot left, or at least didn't this week. Combine that with an uncomfortably spastic stage presence and the whole package just did not work for me. We only made it about half-way through their set. So Friday night was basically 5 hours in the car RT to see Extreme play for 45 minutes. But we still had a good time.
Saturday we woke up to blue skies and 70 degrees temps. My wife went Friday night because my son was busy with a thing at school. Saturday was guys day out. We left at 11:30 AM, and the 90 minute drive took 2:45. I really hate I-95. So we got there just in time for Stryper, which was good. I had never seen them live before. They got a much better reaction than I expected for the 2:30 time slot. They played the golden oldies and a couple of tunes off the new record.
Next up was Red Dragon Cartel, which is Jake E Lee's new band. I like them a lot, but the mix on their set was off. The bass was so overpowering that you could barely hear the singer or Jake's guitar. We realized later that part of the problem was where we were standing. For some reason stage left was overwhelmed with bass, stage right sounded much more balanced.
After Jake, it was back to the main stage and our reserved seats for Queensryche. I was a little disappointed that they got such an early slot. However, it was clear that many people, like me, considered them a premium act as the pavilion filled up for their set, and that is not normal at M3 for an afternoon set. I don't know what else can be said about Todd LaTorre at this point. If you close your eyes you'd swear you are listening to Tate 20 years ago. They played one new tune and the usual suspects, but also threw in Warning, which was not expected. I suspect that was a tune Tate couldn't sing anymore. It's not a problem for Todd. Queensryche was one of the highlights of the day for me.
Then it was back to the smaller stage for Autograph. Yes, Autograph. No, they did not play a 35 minute extended version of Turn Up The Radio :) As they were starting I turned to about six guys standing near me and asked if any of them knew an Autograph song other than Turn Up The Radio. No one did. Actually, their set was pretty damn good. All the songs are in that same pop-metal vein. Also, it turns out I know two songs, as I recognized My Girlfriend's Boyfriend Isn't Me. I sort of feel like they deserved better in the 80s as the songs were there. But for whatever reason, they could never follow up the ridiculous success of their debut hit.
After Autograph it was back to the main stage for Sebastian Bach. His set was the only time all day I pulled out the earplugs, as he was playing at pain inducing volume. That alone took away some of the enjoyment for me. There was really no reason to play that loud, I'm not sure what he was doing. Loudness did the same thing last year, and it didn't work for them either. Bach played the expected Skid Row hits plus a few of his solo tunes. I just find his constant screaming to be irritating. Sing dude, don't scream all the time. That said, it was a solid set. I just wish I could have enjoyed it without earplugs muddling the sound.
After Bach it was back to the smaller stage for LA Guns. About half-way through the set it started to rain. We didn't have umbrellas or even coats because when I checked the weather as we parked the car there was 0% chance of rain. So we decided that was a good time to grab something to eat. \$24 later we were back under cover in our seats with two 4 hour old hot dogs and two sodas. I doubled checked my phone and it was still showing sunny and no rain. It was at that point I noticed I was looking at the weather for Springfield, MO, not Springfield VA. The real forecast was for high 50s that night and showers. I have no idea why my phone thought I cared about the weather in Springfield, MO.
The next band up on the main stage was Night Ranger. Night Ranger was my first concert, in 1984. I was 17 and we were in Honolulu for our annual mandated off-island vacation. (I lived on Kwajalein, a tiny South Pacific island serving as a military base.) This was right after Midnight Madness came out, but before Sister Christian hit the radio. Night Ranger started as a real hard rock band. After they got famous they tended to mix the records down to be more pop friendly, but I had always heard they still rocked hard in concert. It's true. I hate Sister Christian, but even I was singing along as they play it hard and loud in concert. They played a new tune that was really good too. Then I went and found the video, and its like a different song on the album mix.
The final act on the smaller stage was Slaughter. The mix was awful. It sounded like some guy with a chainsaw and some guy with a large bass drum trying to out noise each other. We lasted three songs and decided to head back to our seats and chill waiting for Tesla.
Tesla has long been one of my favorite bands, but they never seem to play a show within 6 hours of me. So I was excited to finally see them live. They didn't disappoint. They pulled out the acoustic guitars for What You Give and Signs, and encored with Little Suzie.
In a sure sign that I'm getting old, I drank one beer all weekend.
The drive home, which at 11 PM on a Saturday night should take 80 minutes, took 3 hours because I-95 South was down to one lane for construction. One lane that they completely blocked for about 30 minutes. I came down with an irritating cold on Monday, which my wife blames on me being too old to stay out that late for a concert. She is right. Next year I'm getting a hotel so I can stay up drinking, instead of driving.
Who wants to join me?
Bands we missed: Winger, Lita Ford, Heaven's Edge, John Corabi, Jack Russell's Great White, Femme Fatale