Old Bridge Metal Militia Reunion: Sandy Benefit, 5/11/13, Freehold NJ 
Monday, May 13, 2013, 01:24 AM
Posted by Administrator
[this New Jersey edition of the Armadillo Road Report is dedicated in loving memory to Pat "Godfather" Egan, a.k.a. SMF Saber. We love and miss you, brother Saber!]

Did you feel it, my babies?

I felt it. We all felt it.

Last night, the Encore Event Center in Freehold, New Jersey just plain made the earth move with seven hours of hard rocking heavy metal--all for a very important cause--the ongoing recovery of the New Jersey and New York residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Twisted Sister absolutely dominated last night, delivering 40-minutes, 8-songs of thunderous, mind-blowing club rocking heavy metal goodness, all the while raising money that will go directly into Home Depot gift cards destined for residents who desperately need the help.

That's right, my babies. It's time.
Time to tell you all about what happened last night in Jersey. There were bands delivering thrills...rockers taking spills.....raffles and rain....Raven and Rods....double-takes and metal cakes! Time for the most verbose blog in rock n' roll. That's right, it's....

The Armadillo Road Report--the Official Twisted Sister Concert Review for the Old Bridge Metal Militia Reunion, Benefit for Hurricane Sandy at the Encore Event Center, Freehold, New Jersey, May 11, 2013. It was a LONG night and this is gonna be a LONG report. So get yourself a cold beverage and a snack.

And so the day began with a late morning rainy drive from Baltimore, up 95 North and the New Jersey Turnpike. I was so excited to get to the show that I didn't even stop at the 4 Cracker Barrels on the way (this is a big deal, trust me. I will gladly drive an hour to get hash brown casserole) and made my way into lovely, quaint Freehold, New Jersey. The Main Street has that small-town feel--complete with a beautiful little fire station, town hall, family-owned restaurants and pubs (Shout out to Sweet Lew's Cafe! Damn good eats!) and a beautiful, top notch suite at the American Hotel.

As a birthday present to myself (and an excuse to raise some money for charity) I purchased a VIP ticket, which was promoted to provide a VIP "lounge," early entry, meet n' greet, souvenir laminate, t-shirt and they even provided some free event posters to those who didn't have anything available to be signed. There was a slight snafu--the event facebook page indicated that VIP holders were being granted admission at 4:30 PM....which was off by about 90 minutes. That's not awful, except that while congregating in line outside, the heavens opened up and as they say, "apres moi, le deluge!" We learned what V.I.P actually stands for..... "Vell....It's Pouring!"

The venue felt sorry for the soggy lot standing outside and let us in an hour early, and so after drying off at 5:30pm, I opted to go straight to the front row to stake my claim in some prime real estate while my SMF counterparts from the slamboard made their way through the orderly line of the meet n' greet, emerging victorious with wide smiles and posters filled with autographs. Our hardy traveler from Australia, SMF Mark, once again braved the 20-hour flight and proved that SMFs will stop at nothing to rock out. He even came bearing gifts--
I'm now the proud owner of an authentic kangaroo scrotum. Nothing says love and friendship like marsupial balls. (Thanks again, mate! Truly an honor to have you with us.)

The Encore Event Center is just that--a large venue with huge, open ball rooms with a modestly small stage just about the right size for...oh, a bar mitzvah band...maybe a wedding singer. Two nice screens stage right and left, two ample bars on both sides of the ball room, a huge backstage area (too huge, really. they need some seg-ways or something), coat check and a concentrated but powerful light rigging. The screens showed images from "back in the day" all night--we saw some incredible old photos of Dee, Metallica, Dave Mustaine--many, many more who paved the way.

The slamboard Twisted family was there en force... SMF Cyndi, MetalNY, Aussie Mark, SMF Big Mike, original front row gal SMF Kathy, Metal Mad Lady, SMFforever Mitch, Amuz3D2deth, and hundreds upon hundreds of excited music fans and the ever talented Twisted crew was in the house-- I could not think of a better group of people to celebrate my birthday with!

It was a celebratory reunion of many of the Old Bridge Metal Militia folks-- people who have supported the playing of heavy metal music since it's inception. This event brought together reunions of the Rods, Raven, TT Quick, Anvil with appearances my Lords of Mercy and of course, our boys in black and pink. And what could say reunion better than.... cake! That's right, babies...we had a cake. A spectacular Twisted Sister cake celebrating 30 years of "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll"--courtesy of Rocky Candy Cakes (Ramona, you are a GENIUS!)
So let's get to the music, shall we?

Lords of Mercy took the stage first--and I'll just mention here, that they, like ALL the bands and crew last night--donated their time. No one was paid to play--it was all about raising money for charity. One of the challenges of being in the front row--you have to sometimes sacrifice good sound for a good view. I didn't have much of either for the LOM set. There were so many photographers in the pit that I had to strain to see anything happening onstage--and there were some sound issues in the front. I can't speak for the back/sound board, but for LOM, we had almost ALL rhythm section, and hardly anything else. I could see the lead singer's lips moving, but it was all bass and kick, all the time. They did give us a good closer number--"Walkin' a Thin Line" and we had a twenty-minute pounding set.

Special shout out here to a new SMF in the crowd--Daniel--(if his mom emails me permission, I'll print his last name) an up and coming rock star perhaps in the making--just 15 years old and a talented drummer-- he is already touring with some top names in the industry (Cheap Trick members, just to name one) with the full support of his family. (Go Mom! Rock on!) He plays with two bands...Tres Hombres and Suicide Playground...which he described to me as playing "Beatles to Rage Against The Machine." Hmmmm. Well....we've seen how hard "Eleanor Rigby" can rock. I'm game. And another Twisted first? This young, confident fellow made me a job offer-- whaddya know! My first roadie job offer. We didn't discuss salary, health benefits, retirement, pension so I didn't exactly give notice at work yet, but hey....every rock star had to start somewhere right? Who knows. I may change careers.

[Speaking of moms, happy mother's day here in the States! Or in this case...happy MUTHAS day....or shall I say, Happy SickMUTHAs day! ]

The Rods were up next, and once again, I couldn't give a fair review because the bass almost killed us...and not in the good way. Animal once told me that there are certain low frequencies that when played at high volume, can induce cardiac arrythmias and bowel evacuation. In layman's terms-- too much bass can give you a heart attack and make you shit your pants. I think I had an atrial flutter--we had so much bass coming at us that it was like CPR with 200 chest compressions per minute.

In any case, The Rods were a hard-rocking trio, that cranked out some tunes that inspired me to scrawl into my notebook "bassline reminds me of Dio." Turns out, that's no accident--one of The Rods is the late Ronnie James Dio's first cousin. The bass player was rocking out hard--and it's great to see rockers this age (believe me, they aren't spring chickens) jumping around and doing guitar spins--until the bass player tripped over a mic and landed flat on his ass! A true professional--he didn't miss a single note--bounced back up (thankfully not hurt!) and mouthed the words "I'm old!" to his road crew. I feel ya, bro.

Members of the original Old Bridge Metal Militia took the stage and asked those present to remember all of the musicians, crew, producers and supporters--they read the names of many of our metal brothers and sisters who have left us too soon. A lot of hard working folks made it all happen in an area rich in heavy metal tradition--thank to everyone of the Old Bridge Metal Militia!

Next on the bill was the much anticipated return of Raven. I've seen bands easily half their age who didn't come close to their level of energy! Another trio, decked heavy in leather and armored shin guards--take note, kids: Old farts can still rock hard. Once again, our front row spot denied us good sound, and we took in entirely too much bass and kick drum, but after a few songs, they smoothed out the kinks and we were able to hear some decent shredding and vocals.

They did this kinda weird guitar solo thing...it looked like two guitars doing a mating ritual...I don't what that gives us (ukuleles? baby banjos?) They announced their new DVD out in June called "Rock Until You Drop" and we were treated to a song of that same name that absolutely rocked the house. (and any more bass, and I swear, I'm gonna need a cork...) I didn't care for the lighting--the LED rotating cans shone right in our eyes--it was distracting as hell, but when I caught a glance on the side screens, the color choices worked well.

The crowd was singing loud and showing some well-deserved love to this bad-ass trio. The real shame? They began their last song and had the plug unceremoniously pulled by the event manager. The crowd was screaming for an encore, they had already played the opening riff and boom. Show stops. Off they go. Seriously? The crowd responded with some serious "boo's" and chanted "RAVEN" long after they had hit the dressing room.

THEN....FINALLY! About 10:30 PM....."Long Way to the Top" blared through the speakers. Tonight, the words of "Long Way.." seemed to just be so appropriate. When you look at the all of the rockers playing this evening, the history of Old Bridge Metal Militia, and the Twisted Sister story, every line of that song just rings true to the heart.

You've seen the setlist--and I'll mention here that the sound was OUTSTANDING. Perfectly balanced...just the right amount of everything with the perfect vocal level. And while I'm at it, the lighting job was flawless. ( and unlike the previous sets, we didn't get blinded by back spots) They opened with a ballbusting rendition of "What You Don't Know" (old school opener!) you would have never imagined that this was just a 40-minute charity set. They played with the intensity as if they were headlining Graspop.

"The Kids Are Back" gave us some bass--but not the CPR-can't-feel-my-intestine-emptying-bass--it was an absolutely exquisite, fancy little bass tag line--we're talking heavy metal jazz here. Check it out on youtube and pay really close attention to the closing bass work--just phenomenal. Dee zipped by and did a microphone grab at 100 mph--on a stage so small I'm just relieved he was able to stop on a dime, stage-right--otherwise, he might have ended up on the coat room....or the bar mitzvah next door.

"You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" now celebrating it's 30-year anniversary--the crowd screamed out the refrain, fueling a fantastic Jay Jay solo as he leaned up against Dee, back to back. Dee kept the raps to a minimum, given the very short set. He gave due respect to those Jersey Strong...and as only Dee could put it, "Twisted Sister lived in Jersey, played in Jersey, fucked in Jersey..... We gotta give back, y'know?" He reminded us all that while the media has focuses elsewhere, there are still thousands of people still struggling to cope with the aftermath, who need our help.

In tribute to the Old School SMFs, they launched into "Destroyer." and Dee didn't need to tell us to use our hands--we brought 'em together for a thunderous version complete with bass that blew us away, Dee banging his head in the background, and a blistering Jay Jay solo. [is he wearing a paisley scarf? tres chic!]

Even those who don't know Twisted music were excited to hear that familiar cowbell on "We're Not Gonna Take It"--the crowd responded in kind, with a blast of energy. You know, it's not easy up at the front row--any of those front row gals from 'back in the day" will tell you. You have to stand your ground, defend your spot that latecomers attempt to squeeze you out of, you endure pushing and prodding, crushing and shoving. And if you're short? It means a lot of elbows to the back of the head and the occasion blow to the face. Yeah. I came home with quite a few lumps and bruises from last night, but it's all in the name of rock n' roll, my babies. No hard feelings there.

Even Jay Jay kept it brief--reminding us that tonight was an "old school night"...that "tonight is the night...this is what the history of Twisted Sister in Jersey is all about." And to celebrate that...one of Jersey's native metal sons, Snake Sabo from Sebastian Bach's band--joined Twisted onstage to play the next song. In spite of some health issues, he still made the trek to the venue tonight in the name of charity. Let me tell you, if you think "Under the Blade" is heavy with 3 guitars--holy crap, you should hear it with four! It was smashmouth heavy metal, the way it's supposed to be played. Your front row slamboard folks obliged with our UTB heavy metal "wave"--you know that moment where Jay Jay, Dee, Eddie and Mark all rock at the same time? Well, the front row rocks right along with them in unison--it's a beautiful thing.

"Burn In Hell" just tore it up--we had drum sticks flying, an occasional crowd surfer and a strong trio of Eddie, Jay Jay and Animal, all lined up, rocking hard for the people of the Jersey shore. At one point, it seemed as if the whole ballroom was glowing in red light, and the temperature inside the room with that packed crowd was true to the title.
With only one song left, we knew that Twisted had to play the song that so many came to hear--"I Wanna Rock" just elicits the most incredible reaction from crowds. Even those who don't know a single Twisted Sister song will go bananas when Dee screams those three little words.

When it was all over, I could see on the face of our 15-year old drummer and his mom--both at their first Twisted show--that he had a Twisted Sister experience. No, Daniel, I'm not hard on other bands because I'm picky...I'm hard on other bands because Twisted Sister is the best live band out there. No one comes close. No one.

I was able to catch Anvil's mammoth set to follow from the VIP "lounge"--what a heavy set! This crowd loves Anvil, and I was really pleased to see that folks didn't just leave after TS--they were there to enjoy all of the bands on the bill, even the late night midnight set by TT Quick!

I stayed for the raffle results--amazing raffle--congrats to the lucky winners and thanks to all who bought tickets! Autographed guitars galore--including one signed by Slayer--drum heads, prints, guitars--incredible contributions. Thanks to everyone who made that possible and to the artists who donated. And by the way..we had MERCH! Glorious, glorious merch. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of "You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll", for sale was a commemorative t-shirt, listing all of the 2013 stops of the tour. (except for Brazil, which made their own version) I happily dished out the dollars for that one, along with a new replacement TS bandanna-- all I can say is, "MORE MERCH PLEASE!" We need some Twisted bling, okay? How about some necklaces? Belt buckles? Earrings?

The band, crew and many of the SMFs headed back to their homes. I grabbed a birthday waffle with SMF Kathy at a local diner and then ran some Twisted Sister errands until late into the a.m. hours. My head hit the pillow finally at 3:30 am. I dropped our Aussie SMF off at the bus station (safe travels, mate!) and had a LONG 4-hour drive home in heavy traffic.
An incredible show for a great cause. Twisted Sister absolutely brought down the house with a performance that fans will be talking about for years to come. New York's Iron Men of Rock n' Roll showed that Jersey Strong is more than a catch phrase--the heavy metal community reunited for six hours of some of the most pounding rock music in the tri-state area. Well done, gentlemen! Many thanks to all of the artists and crew who donated goods, time, travel and performances. The people of New Jersey thank you!

And so, this concludes this lengthy edition of the Road Report. I'm off to pack for Austin, Texas, but until then....keeping rockin' my babies. This is Armadillo....trotting off to google some good BBQ....

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Old Bridge Metal Militia, Encore Event Center Freehold NJ 05/11/13 
Sunday, May 12, 2013, 09:48 AM
Posted by Administrator
Short and sweet...here's last night setlist:

1. What You Don't Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
4. Destroyer
5. We're Not Gonna Take It
6. Under The Blade
7. Burn In Hell
8. I Wanna Rock

What it lacked in length, it made up for in intensity...
but more on that later...a full road report is soon to come!!!
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M3: Merriweather Post, Columbia MD 5/4/13: PART 2: TWISTED SISTER 
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 05:58 PM
Posted by Administrator
I don't know how many different ways I can say this: Twisted Sister didn't just destroy the M3 Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Saturday night....they demolished it. Wait, not just demolition...we're talking total, absolute nuclear annhiliation! Just imagine--if that's what Twisted Sister could do in a 60-minute set, just IMAGINE what they would have done if they had headlined! They rocked that place from the front row to the rear gate, rocked those across the street....rocked the hotel lobby...rocked round the bend, rocked the geese in the lake...NOTHING BUT NET! As we say in Baltimore.... GO TO WAR MISS AGNES! That is what metal is all about.

There's a giant cup of coffee sitting next to a two filled, illegible notebooks ready to bring you all the details you're dying to know...and plenty ya' don't! And that can only mean that it's time for the wordiest blog in rock n' roll... The Armadillo Road Report: the Official Twisted Sister concert review!

I arrived early to the venue and joined my fellow road crew members, who were already hard at work. This afforded me the chance to listen to Steel Heart while watching our Guitar Technician, Keith, re-string Eddie's guitars. Up close and personal, I had a chance to really appreciate what beautiful instruments these are. Eddie has two gorgeous Wayne Charvel guitars with Floyd Upgrades (FU). Beautiful woods with inlays in the neck and a sloped, aerodynamic body painted with the famous pink and black bullseye on one, and his subtle black on black bullseye on the other.

The day's festival was chock full of great 80's bands--including but not limited to Trixter, Jackyl, Great White, Loudness, Bret Michaels just to name a few....but to catch them all, you really got a workout! Off to the side was a second sound stage in a parking lot, so fans had to make a mad dash from the pavilion to the lot and back again, as there were barely ten minutes between bands. On the plus side, there was virtually no overlap, so you didn't have to choose between artists.

I was thrilled to be able to listen to Loudness (especially after I missed their set in Brazil a few weeks ago) You have GOT to give these guys props---they overcame visa issues (I feel your pain, gentlemen!) and then traveled something close to 16 hours just to play a 45 minute set in Maryland and fly back. If they were jet-lagged, you'd never know it! They played a high-energy, great sounding set including the crowd favorite "Crazy nights."
There were just so many good bands Saturday, and the place had a really excellent, fun vibe--it made me realize just how much of an extended family the heavy metal world is, and I was really impressed with the show of friendship, camaraderie and respect that the bands gave one another. And while I'm at it, the amazing chemistry between the crew. Twisted Sister has something really special with their road crew--they are a family--and it was a pleasure to meet many of those who had worked with Twisted for many years before--Cooch and John--it was truly an honor!

After chowing down with my fellow road crew brethen, we began the prep for the show. I had a moment to check out the new Dee mic-stand. Let me tell you, folks, this is the absolute Cadillac of mic-stands. It's absolutely gorgeous. Powder-coated hot-pink (glowing cerise) slip-resistant texture… science meets art. It just plain glows. So....stand now in place, banner raised, rugs taped down and sound check complete, I nervously paced in the wings, waiting for that special moment of sheer exhilaration: "Long Way to the Top" blaring from the speakers.

Now mind you, this time last night, I was absolutely freezing cold! I mean, I was a popsicle...well, okay, a rocksicle. In contrast, when Twisted took the stage at 7:45 PM, I swear, I think the temperature went up 20-degrees! Hot flashes? No way. This wasn't menopause...it was METAL-pause! [I just made that up. Feel free to use it.]

I love seeing our Twisted five take the stage--they are so ready, so fired up--the excitement is palpable and real. A special little moment for me--seeing Eddie and Jay Jay exchange a quick handshake as they stormed the stage. Jay Jay and Eddie both donned their guitars, got themselves ready to deliver the goods, and took their spots. As many times as they've heard "Long Way" usher them in, seeing Jay Jay rocking out to those bagpipes reinforced what I already knew--Rock n' roll flows through their veins.

They opened with "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" which was just mind-blowing--it felt like a jet engine roaring at 800 mph--the boys opened with a fury that just blew me (and the first ten rows at least!) away. What an incredible, powerful opener--Animal just hammered the bass line out. Normally, crowds in the U.S. can take a few songs to warm up to a band. In this case, the crowd was into it from the start--there were fists flying from the opening notes. And beach balls. NO idea why. {Seriously. Is it like....hey, okay now, let's make sure I've got everything I need for today.... studded belt? check. spiked bracelets? check. leather jacket? check. cool tee shirt with skulls and wings on them? check. beach ball..... oh damn, did anyone remember to bring the beach ball?"}

With only a 60-minute set, it was short on chatter but heavy on the rock. Twisted launched straight into "Shoot 'em Down" and they played it harder and louder than ever. I know what you're thinking--I say that every concert review--but they DID! I SWEAR TO YOU-- Animal just spanked that bass. If you don't believe me, YouTube it for yourself and watch the whole song. I mean, it was just phenomenal. Jay Jay's solo was hot...and while I'm on the subject...the Jay Jay fashion report: he looked quite dashing in a black jacket with quite fashionable scarf.

"Stay Hungry" energized the crowd with a drum line that reminded me a V-twin--'Buddda buddah buddah buddah." It's always tough to pick the setlist when you only have an hour, but clearly this was a great selection. The crowd roared with delight, and I could see fans mouthing the lyrics and rocking out, even out in the lawn. Speaking of the lawn, Dee gave a special shout out to all the S.M.F.s rocking out on the lawn--including Edgar, who tweeted Dee that he would be rocking out on the green.

After a few very quickly delivered words by Jay Jay, in which he paid homage to the S.M.F.s-- the fans were the reason behind the song they were about to play: "I Believe In Rock N' Roll." I know it sounds corny, but I felt truly as if every fan there was pledging allegiance to rock....and rock in America! Eddie delivered a flawless solo, and Dee even called out to the people in the back--"Don't you believe in Rock N' Roll?" Our Snide one made sure that everyone was on their feet, taking the oath.

I'm used to hearing "The Kids Are Back" earlier in the set, but truth be told? I like it better in the middle. It's an "old school" song, and sometimes crowds who only know "Stay Hungry" and the years after, take a few minutes to warm up to it. This crowd was completely ready to rock on this night, and "The Kids Are Back" had the crowd literally jumping.
When A.J. hammered the opening drums of "We're Not Gonna Take It," Merriweather Post absolutely erupted. I've often complained that American crowds don't sing as loud as those overseas--but Maryland did me proud! The crowd sang it loud and proud. One of the things I love about "We're Not Gonna Take It" is that that when the crowd taps into it, you get the sensation of one giant pulse, emanating from the throngs of crazed fans. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Dee even gave the microphone to a fan in the front row at one point, to sing the refrain with him. Good job S.M.F.!

And then...something I did NOT expect. Dee briefly explained that in the 90's there was this trend amongst heavy metal bands, to go unplugged and play their songs with an acoustic guitar. And so he called for his Acoustic guitar.....his WHAT?! That's right, an acoustic guitar is brought onstage, and Dee prepares to play.....NOT! He declares to all those present, that Twisted will do an unplugged set "when they pry the electric guitars from our cold dead hands!" as Animal raised his bass in triumph [Charlton Heston would be proud] And to drive his point home, Dee proceeded to smash the acoustic guitar to splinters on stage.
Your faithful road crew dashed out to pick up all of the big chunks of guitar (Thank you, Animal for NOT stepping on my hands--I know it was tempting) While it certainly wasn't acoustic, we were treated to a fantastically played version of "The Price," and I had a perfect view of the audience--lighters and cell phones glowing and swaying all the way to the crabcake booth.

I said a silent prayer that Dee wouldn't get any splinters when he steam-rollered into "Burn In Hell." and dropped to the ground. I just held my breath until I was sure he didn't get impaled on any guitar fragments that I may have missed. Dee did some magnificent athletic moves--hurdling over the monitors to the catwalk that extended into the orchestra pit, center stage.

With little time for banter, Dee skyrocketed into the last number of their set, "I Wanna Rock!", with a brief interlude, in which the crowd happily took the now worldwide Twisted poll of what people want more....to rock..or to fuck. And so, after a few obligatory rounds of singing "I Wanna Fuck," we did what we came to do: ROCK! There wasn't a fist that wasn't in the air--every fan screaming, "Rock!" at the top of their lungs.

Unfortunately, no time for encores--Twisted Sister, ever the professionals, made sure that they did not run overtime, which could have adversely impacted the Bret Michael's set. Even with just nine songs, Twisted absolutely decimated Merriweather Post. I cannot remember the last time a domestic show rocked this hard. It was a flawless performance: fantastic lighting, great, balanced sound, tight guitar solos, mammoth drums, killer bass and a stellar performance from the best front man in Heavy Metal!

M3 delivered the goods--and as a Baltimore boy, it just made me proud!
And as I loaded out the gear into the transports and packed up the banner, I could hear Bret Michaels taking the stage. I was just filled with happiness and joy that all of these heavy metal bands and fans could come together and celebrate the glory that is rock and roll.

And with that, my babies, I did something I so RARELY do after a show....I laid my head on my own pillow, in my own bed. It was decadence.

This is Armadillo....trotting off to prepare for next Saturday, when Twisted Sister will destroy New Jersey at the Hurricane Sandy benefit! See in Jersey!

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M3 Merriweather Post, 5.3.13 DAY 1 KIX/W.A.S.P. 
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 05:41 PM
Posted by Administrator

The M3 Festival has become a moderately recent Maryland rock tradition, but it has brought together some of the biggest names in 80's heavy metal year after year. Merriweather Post is located in the sleepy suburbs of Columbia, MD, a bedroom community for many Washington, DC commuters. Greats such as Led Zeppelin played there (and yes, there's a plaque posted about that). Of course, there's also a plaque telling you how many thousands of pounds of mulch were brought in during construction. Take it as you wish. It's a decent size venue, located behind some woods, with a moderately large wooden covered pavilion full of seats. The remaining lawn a giant sea of beach chairs, blankets and picnicking revelers. Two large jumbo-trons frame the stage, which also houses an impressive light rigging and a temperamental but powerful sound system.

Given that my entire commute to M3 was a whopping 45 minutes without much traffic (certainly felt odd to have such a short trip!), I met up with some of the crew, helped Animal get settled in, and headed off to check out the bands. I was able to catch a closing bit of Danger Danger's set from backstage--they played a good set to an appreciative and vocal crowd--then ran off to the vendors and scarfed down an overpriced and unimpressive crabcake sandwich.

We joined the crowd to take in KIX--the Friday festival night before was hailed as the "KIX-Off Party"--KIX is the homegrown, local band here in Maryland....but according to their lead singer's anecdote on-stage, a certain band that was left unnamed refused to go on second-bill. [This elicited a certain response from the crowd] Kudos to KIX for proclaiming, "We don't give a shit if we headline or not....we just love playing!"

And played they did! KIX did a fantastic set opening with "The Itch"--Baltimore loves KIX (or as we say here, "Bawlmer")...what other band could sing about crabs (and I ain't talking about the ones we steam with old bay spice) and make it cool. Actually, what amazes me most about KIX...while so many other bands from the 80's have, shall we say it? Expanded their....er...girth..KIX is the opposite. if you put all of the band members in KIX together back to back, you'd have a size 30 slim pair of pants. Seriously. No fat elvis here--those boys are like metal stick figures!

KIX played tight and fast--proving that even harmonica solos, in the right context, can be metal! Great rendition of "Don't Close Your Eyes" (complete with gyrations that seemed to please the ladies). Lead singer Steve's raps were absolutely hilarious--at one point, he humbly admitted that he was so into his rap that he forgot what song was supposed to be next! He used the word "cornhole" at least six times...and you'd think that it would get old, but no...turns out cornhole jokes (especially those told with a Baltimore accent) are just damn funny every time! He confided in the crowd his passion for another Baltimore tradition--"I play bingo!" and then admitted, that "it has absolutely nothing to do with the next song."

KIX killed it with an expertly played "Cold Shower," gave us an honest-to-goodness blistering guitar solo--I mean, a guitar SOLO--no band, no drums--just guitar, and then asked Baltimore, "Are you ready to shit your pants??!!" Yeah, welcome to Baltimore, folks. We don't just rock our asses off, we shit our pants! "Blow My Fuse" --sung through a microphone complete with lit fuse--then launched into "Midnight Dynamite" and "Tell Me Now." The crowd was simply on their feet, having a blast! KIX asked us, "Are you Happy?" The crowd gave a resounding, "Hell yeah!" KIX...in their homestate. What a great time!
W.A.S.P. then took the stage by storm. I saw W.A.S.P. on their "Last Command" tour back in 1986 when they opened for "Black Sabbath...WITH TONY IOMMI!!!" [Actually, it was Tony Iommi...playing Black Sabbath songs. Believe me, if you saw that tour, you know what I'm talking about.] I get a little nervous these days seeing 80's bands that I saw during their peak--but I have to say that W.A.S.P. coming out of the gate did not disappoint me. (hey, it was Kentucky Derby weekend. I had horses on the brain.)

Blackie Lawless, the only original member of W.A.S.P. playing, made a dramatic entrance with air raid sirens blaring, red lights flashing, glinting buzz saw blades and two big scrims and a banner hailing the 30 years of W.A.S.P. They launched into a high energy run of songs, in which the scrims dropped, revealing two addition rear-projection screens and a large screen behind the drum riser. As they played all of their 80's hits, the original videos of the same songs, synchronized well to the live music....if you could overlook that the original videos had. well, original band members.

It was a neat gimmick for one song, but after three, it became a little disorienting, and at times, highly distracting when the lips didn't quick synch up. But that aside, we had "Real Me", "Love Machine," "Wild Child" and "Be Somebody." I was very impressed--thought they sounded very good overall--had a lot of energy if could overlook all of Blackie's Gene Simmon-esque textbook moves.

Then..things got weird. W.A.S.P. decided to play thirty straight minutes of "Crimson Idol." Now don't get me wrong, they played it expertly, and it's an interesting album--kind of a new-agey rock opera--but it's also slow, light on vocals, and I'll say it..... intended for headphones. Harcore W.A.S.P. fans in attendance were really, really enjoying it—in fact, the W.A.S.P. fans were truly thrilled. I saw them reacting the way us S.M.F.’s get excited when we hear something that we don’t usually get to experience live. And the music itself was played skillfully, but live, this album was just kina mellow after their killer opening.
Then it got even weirder. On our three screens, we had a black and white video loop showing us the "plot" of said rock opera--a boy raised by two religious zealots who mentally and physically abuse him until he runs away and becomes a rock star....only to be rejected once more by the parents whose love and acceptance he never earned....and he hangs himself, ending with some religious iconographic imagery.

Um, yeah. Thirty minutes of watching a boy get whipped by a belt over and over again....followed by suicide. And if my mellow couldn't have been harshed further, they ended with non-stop projections of civil war photographs of the dead bodies strewn over Gettysburg. Seriously. It was a bummer. After the last note of the "Crimson Idol" set, there was a lull in which I heard a fan behind me, exclaim, "Well, I'll just slit my wrists now..."

By the time they were done, W.A.S.P. managed to clear out entire sectons of the audience. Which is a shame, because when they woke the audience up with the finale of "Blind in Texas," those folks who left missed a great closer. I give them an "B" for the first 30 minutes, B as in "Badass"....and then an "F" for the next 30, F as in "Are you fucking kidding me? Can we keep the music but turn the screens off please?" The music was technically very good, but I just question the artistic decisions made. After KIX's totally happy and upbeat set, W.A.S.P. was a bit depressing,especially when I didn't get to hear, "Animal: F**k like a Beast."

So that was Friday night, my babies. The KIX-OFF party was a load of fun...and if you can overlook some truly poor artistic decisions, there *WAS* some very good heavy metal music.
But nothing....NOTHING could compare to what our boys in black and pink did the next night...
Stay tuned.....
Day 2 of the M3 Festival coming next...

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M3 Setlist Take 2: 
Sunday, May 5, 2013, 01:06 AM
Posted by Administrator
Having some issues with home internet at the moment, so it's possible this will be a duplicate...

but in any case...
Your Setlist from M3, Merriweather Post Pavilion, 5/4/13

1. You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll
2. Shoot 'em Down
3. Stay Hungry
4. I Believe In Rock N' Roll
5. The Kids Are Back
6. We're Not Gonna Take It
7. The Price
8. Burn In Hell
9. I Wanna Rock

Sorry folks--no encore tonight. Much, much more to come....

but now...glorious sleep in my own bed! what a treat.

Stay tuned--the full review of M3 is to come!
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