TVD Live Shots: M3 Rock Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 5/4–5/5

The mega-sized, heavy metal shred-fest, M3 celebrated its 10th anniversary last weekend (5/4–5/5) at Merriweather Post Pavilion. Metalheads, young and well, middle-aged were treated to a heaping dose of hard rock from a myriad of artists who dominated the genre then—as they still do today. 

For this weekend’s go-around, the festival was split into 1 day and 2 nights of metal (Friday and Saturday), and 1 full day of southern rock (Sunday). I was there for the Friday and Saturday shows for a taste of the hair of the dog that bit me long ago. This year’s lineup featured some of the biggest names in the genre—Kix, Ace Frehley, Tom Keifer, and Sebastian Bach.

If you’re a metal fan in the DC area, the experience at M3 is all or nothing—meaning that you either come out and support all the bands on M3’s lineup—or you stay home. M3 fans are particularly unique, mostly decked out in rock attire—leather pants, ripped bangled shirts, or festival tees bought at merch—and in the way that they continue to support live music for the last three decades. I suppose that only time will tell if other genres will have as much of a turnout 30 years from now.

While fans do come out in droves for M3, I couldn’t help but take note of a phrase uttered for the past few years now: “If we’re able to do this next year,” this time via Eddie Trunk, host of That Metal Show and “Trunk Nation” on SiriusXM VOLUME during his introduction for Tom Keifer’s set on Friday night. I did notice that the crowd seemed notably thinner this time than in recent years, however the spirit of metal is definitely still there, and I hope M3 continues to thrive.

To coincide with the 10 year anniversary of M3, Kix, the boys from Hagerstown, Maryland, were celebrating an achievement of their own. This year marks the 30th year anniversary of their album, Blow My Fuse. Released in September of 1988, the album saw commercial success, reaching platinum status and in turn brought Kix millions of new fans.

Although Kix had gained plenty of momentum with their previous release Midnight Dynamite, Blow My Fuse is responsible for putting the band in the national spotlight. Blow My Fuse contained the band’s two biggest hits to date, “Cold Blood” and “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” For this years stop at M3 the audience was treated to Kix playing its beloved album in its entirety—and they were solid as usual. Frontman Steve Whitman continues to fire up his audience, and in my opinion had the best set of the entire festival.

Closing the show Friday night was Tom Keifer. Taking the top spot from Kix seemed at first to be a little unsettling, but given Keifer’s track record at M3, he fit the bill quite nicely, as his past performances at M3 have been among my favorites in recent years. This time around his set contained Cinderella classics like “Shake Me,” “The More Things Change,” “Long Cold Winter,” “Nobody’s Fool,” “Night Songs,” and “Coming Home.” Keifer even added a cover of The Beatles’ “With a Little Help From My Friends” before closing his set with the stomper, “Gypsy Road.” I love to watch Tom Keifer perform and his stage presence is commanding—in a subtle way. He always seems in control of his band and his vibe with the crowd is spot on.

The biggest draw for me this year at M3 was the addition of veteran Kiss guitarist, Ace Frehley, known also as “Space Ace” or formally “The Spaceman.” Whatever the alias, Frehley’s style is undeniable and he’s had a monumental impact on metal. Frehley’s set at M3 featured quite a few Kiss songs including “Shock Me,” “Deuce,” “Strange Ways” and “Parasite.” While the crowd jumped to their feet during those beloved classics, it was Frehley’s rendition of “Love Gun” and “Detroit Rock City” that nearly stole the show completely.

KIX

TOM KEIFER

ACE FREHLEY

NIGHT RANGER

Y&T

SABASTIAN BACH

EDDIE TRUNK

THE 2018 M3 ROCK FESTIVAL

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