Knowing that Columbia, Maryland is only a short driving excursion from northern NJ, a mini road trip to see the M3 music festival was certainly in order (what the heck does M3 stand for anyway? We never found out). As we approached, the surrounding roads were jammed with police, many wearing those silly round hats that should have been retired after Jackie Gleason sported one in "Smokey and the Bandit" in the 70's! I guess they were hoping to fill the "coffee and doughnuts" donation box by "seriously" enforcing the "no parking at the local shopping mall" rule (note: we did not oblige! I mean who wouldn’t take advantage of free parking right across the street). The Merriweather Post Pavilion is an older venue (what were they thinking making the main shed out of wood, I guess pyro was out of the equation for the night!) set in a laid back park area that was well equipped with many picnic benches. As we ate our lunch and "people watched" at the gate, we came to the quick conclusion that most of the fans' wardrobes were purchased at WalMart (your home for most fine redneck and white trash attire!) and not at the glitzy mall across the road. Aside from the bands themselves, inside the venue we were treated to the following "bonus" activities/ events: a rusty camper from the 50's set up as a beer station, an old camouflaged pickup truck somehow wrapped around a tree yet still fully in-tact (probably given the "thumbs-up" by Ted Nugent who played there at some point), a REALLY cool pinball museum with original working machines from “Uncle Ted” Nugent, KISS, Elton John and others, local go-go dancers selling $10 foam beer can holders (side note: daylight is not kind on some of the bodies of these ladies, cellulite galore on the legs and butts - yuck!), and musty wooden-constructed bathrooms that could have been taken right out of the 70's summer camp movie "Meatballs"! On the way to the main stage we were passed by a golf cart that was driving SLAUGHTER's Dana Strum, who gave us the "rock star" nod as if we both had known each other since KISS' 1990 “Hot In The Shade” tour (not true!). As for the performances themselves, well no need to recap the songs, etc. as we all know what was to be expected, but I will pass along a few other observations (oh by the way, the sound on the stages was loud and clear and big props to the stage crew who were able to switch from band to band flawlessly and in very short order - this was a pleasant surprise!):
- Too many “out of shape” drummers: the guy from Y&T, “Wild Mick” Brown, Bobby Blotzer (he had silly hat on too!), AJ Pero, Carmine Appice (maybe not fat, but old and with a funny looking mustache!).
- Several "too cool for the rest of us" drummers: the guy from EXTREME (cool ass fro and mutton chops!), the guy from SLAUGHTER (tuning his drumspre-show with one hand while holding a cigarette in the other).
- Mark Slaughter's “spare tire" - he looked like he had an inflatable toddler's water floatie around his waist (maybe that's why he couldn't hit the high notes on most songs?).
- "Ripped up" Stephen Pearcy: yes he does look "leathery", but heck he's still skinny and can sing (maybe booze and smokes ain't such a bad thing for everyone???).
- Gary Cherone: not quite sure after all these years what to make of this guy, as he prances around looking like he's part gymnast, part ballerina, all while practicing yoga while jogging!!! He’s got a lot of energy that’s for sure.
- TWISTED SISTER: Dee Snider with makeup on is looking more and more like the killer from the "Saw" movies; JJ French now has a brown wig versus his previous blond one! Why can't they just pull a KISS ala "Lick It Up" era and come out of the costumes and just be old (and in some cases fat) without the costumes?
- STEEL PANTHER: maybe the best performance of the whole day, topics covered in the songs and stage dialogue were: fat women, vaginas, vagina moisture, Asians, blacks, gays, BJ's and much, much more! Can’t really go wrong with subject matter like that, now can you?
All in all there "need" to be more types of these festivals near BIGGER CITIES in the US each summer. Maybe their formula with M3 is a goodone, as perhaps a 1-day festival that is moderately priced and accessible to many fans via a short drive is a slam-dunk. Heck not all of us want to camp for 4 days in bumblefuck USA under the blazing heat and threat of tornados. Bring on M3 in 2009, as we will be there for sure!!!