M3 Festival, Merriweather Post Pavillion, Columbia, MD 5/30/09


Good evening my Babies…

Again I return, your trusted servant, to bring you only the fullest concert review otherwise known as The Official Armadillo Road Report, complete with all the details you want to know…and plenty you don’t. This review will be an abridged version, however. The M3 Festival lasted for twelve hours, gates open to close, and although I certainly found enough material to write about, I’ll save only the really juicy and/or bizarre tidbits for you here. But I’ll warn you right now, I was one cranky mammal today! I was VERY Pleased with tonight’s setlist.
Here it is again:
SET LIST TO BE INSERTED HERE:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I’ve traveled hundreds—even thousands of miles—to go see TS play, and so the irony wasn’t lost on me that my truck broke down the day before this show–the one that was within 40 miles. Perhaps in an odd retrospective tribute to the 80’s—I had to borrow my parent’s car to get to the show. Blame it on the car breaking down…or the muddy mess where they directed me to park…maybe it was the anal retentive security staff….or the poorly behaved fans….but this festival turned out to be eleven disappointing hours and forty good minutes.

First things first: I must describe Merriweather Post Pavilion. If you’ve never been to Merriweather Post before, it does have a unique charm and a history to it. (including a sign marking the occasion when an unknown newcomer named Led Zeppelin opened up at Merriweather for The Who back in the 70’s) It’s a giant picnic party on the lawn complete with Baltimore cuisine (where else can you get crabcakes, snowballs, and pit beef?) A large covered seating area with a large open “lawn” and then wooden areas in the back.

Unfortunately, Merriweather is showing signs of age, and the facilities were truly dreadful. And don’t even GET me started on the security there…it was everything I predicted….and then some. They refused me entry because I sported a small chain wallet, which has been allowed entry in hundreds of shows, but there they deemed it a weapon. [I assure you, the boot I was about to shove up said teeny-bopper employee’s ass was far greater a weapon than the key chain on my belt loop.] My wallet wasn’t a weapon…their vending costs were the bigger threat to my feeble wallet weapon!

The concert started promptly at noon—in fact, one of the few positives I can say about M3 is that they were quite punctual if nothing else. I perused the various vendors set up on the sidewalk “loop” around the park, and discovered the second stage, which was a very small setup, sitting on a side parking lot that was fenced in for this purpose. In addition to the second stage, there was a “freak-show/side show” that had a small band playing. It was like having 3 metalhead roommates who were all pissed off at one another—tremendous discord of music playing from all angles. What’s worse is that you could never see a full set of any one band without cutting into another band’s set, so to hear one band’s full set meant that you would miss the opener of another.

But it was a nostalgic day, indeed. There were bands I hadn’t seen or heard in ages! A hairband who’s who, except there seemed to be a real lack of, well, hair. Hey, I’m not being critical here—my own gorgeous locks fell into the sink years ago. Let’s just say that some bands aged better than others! And by the way, chances are that if you are over 30, spandex is a really, really bad idea. And what’s with the heavy metal comb-over?….when did that become fashionable? Okay, okay. Sorry for the digression, but with ten hours to kill until Twisted I did a lot of people watching. There need to be some serious concert etiquette rule revision. Bald mullets are just bad practice.

It was hard to characterize some of the bands as openers because they were just so strong musically, both yesterday and today. Speaking of “yesterday and today,” Y&T, they played a wonderful set to a near empty venue, which was a pity because they sounded quite good. Every single song they played was just spot on….they are a band that never really got enough respect for the musical talent they bring to the table. Slaughter was on the main stage next. It was a bit tough to determine if they were having sound troubles, or if the lead singer’s pipes just weren’t what they once were—a problem for MANY bands throughout the festival.

Jani Lane. You know, I wasn’t a huge Warrant fan, and now I don’t feel badly about that at all. Kids, this guy is just like school in Baltimore when there’s an inch of snow: NO CLASS. After he bums a cigarette off an audience member (kudos to the guy working the jumbotron screen, who superimposed the Howard County No Smoking Ordinance while he lit up), he shoves the cigarette up his nose and smokes it that way. Then he tries to impress the audience with his ability to make lewd sexual gestures that when he was 20, I’m sure it was cute, but now it was just gross and creepy. He came across as a slovenly, aging, washed up slob of lead singer who couldn’t hit most of the notes to his own songs. Jani Lane was lami lame. How sad

Dokken came on next—and they sounded pretty good, all things considered. They played most of their big hits—Breaking The Chains, Alone Again, Into The Fire, In My Dreams. Unfortunately, they just lacked energy….there was just no connection with the fans or even with the other band members. I’m a huge Dokken fan, and remember what a great set they played opening for TS back in 1986—no such magic this time around, I’m afraid. Musically it was fine—just the stage lacked energy. I know it was hot and sticky…..and the middle of the afternoon, but it felt more like a family reunion picnic and less like a tour kickoff, which so many of these bands were about to do.

Not so for the next band: Baltimore favorite KIX. There were two things that really struck me about KIX: 1. they sound as good now as they did in the 80’s 2. They were the only band that didn’t seem to have their waistband’s affected by father time. (I hope it’s not the heroin diet that so many tragically have followed.) Either way, someone needs to take the whole damn band out to Cracker Barrel or buy these guys a sandwich. They were high energy, rocked the house and it finally started to feel like more like a rock festival and less like a senior expo for aging metalheads. I almost nodded off a few times today. Of course, KIX’s lead singer must have attended the same charm school as Jani Lane–he announced, for some peculiar reason, in the beginning of a song, “I have to poop!” I felt what I’m sure you’re feeling right now….allow me: thanks for sharing. Maybe this is what aging rock is truly all about….. no filter and bowel movements.

KIX is a Baltimore band back from the Hammerjack days, and definitely the crowd favorite. If you had come to the show not knowing who was playing, you’d swear you were at a strictly KIX concert. The overwhelming majority of folks were wearing KIX shirts, and many actually LEFT after they played, which just baffles me…you spend 10 hours in the sun but don’t stay that extra hour for the headliner??!? No grit.

KIX also has that crudeness that I’m not particularly fond of–honestly, if I want to see crotch grabbing, I’ll go to a Michael Jackson concert….oooh, I just now almost lost those cookies Metal Mad Lady made me….

KIX did manage to get the one undergarment toss of the day…. some woman tossed her bra onstage. Which he promptly rubbed all over his crotch….Ulp..damn cookies…. ! Ya know, we’re all getting older here, I understand that….back in the day when a girl threw her bra onstage, it was usually something skimpy and lacy, usually red… this damn bra was like an industrial strength foundation garment. I mean it was one of those white granny bras that I swear, it had to be size EEE and had so many hooks in the back it takes the jaws of life to unsnap it…(hey, your Armadillo was quite the young Casanova in the day, I know my way around a bra) If that woman danced around someone might have gotten hurt with those things on the loose. Remember what I said about middle aged men wearing tight spandex? Well, the same goes for middle aged women throwing bras onstage. Our time has passed for those pasttimes.

We popped over to see Keel–which was a huge disappointment–I didn’t bother to stay for the full set– as was Ratt. Pearcy’s vocals just plain lacked. He played some of their biggest hits—Lack of Communication, Back for More, Lay it Down, Round and Round, Wanted Man…,but they were hit or miss. This was a painful day for me—and a hard review to consider writing. I loved some of these bands, and I’ll try to remember them the way they were, and not the performances that I saw today. Not every band can pull off a reunion tour.

But here’s the silver lining: it made me appreciate the tremendous talent and effort that Twisted Sister puts into their shows. Unlike many of the bands that played today, we never had trouble hearing Dee—the vocals are strong! They did have some sound problems early on but they were fixed after about 10 minutes. Twisted Sister sounds as good now as they did in the early days! We were treated to a new anniversary banner, as well as a simulated fabric pink chain-link fence. [which would make a lovely shower curtain, by the way, God bless merch! Eh, Jay Jay?]

I’m also happy to report that the one drunken kid that ran across the stage and evaded capture was NOT our own Jaysin. The crowd was incredibly…er…drunk. It’s what I hate about these festivals—the volume of intoxication was almost tragic and really quite unnecessary. The lawn looked like a Civil War reenactment from all of the passed out revelers. What made this show even more challenging—this was the furthest I’ve ever physically been from the stage at a show. Fortunately, TS gave it their all, as they always do, and I still felt sufficiently “rocked”. Once the sound was worked out, there were a few little snafu’s with the lights. Mark changed up the bass a bit on “Don’t Let Me Down”—it was just brilliant.
We did hear a nice quick rap from Dee on “reclaiming” our horns—the universal heavy metal hand sign, that is, which has apparently re-entered pop culture through the likes of Miley Cyrus and Puff Daddy. Say it with Dee folks: “That shit’s not right!”

He also wished a quick “happy birthday” to AJ’s Michelle and then launched into “I Wanna Rock”. We got a new Dee-ism from the night—he felt that the first round of audience participation was only enough to move one testicle and he asked for “full scrotal vibration.” When I looked back over the crowd and saw thousands of fists in the air screaming “ROCK!”…hell…I felt it! They ended with a very hurried encore of “SMF”—Merriweather has a curfew due to local noise ordinances, so the show definitely was cut short. It didn’t seem the same without AJ’s drum solo, band introductions, and other Twisted surprises we’ve come to expect.

Overall, though, this show just seemed a little bit out of sorts. Can’t quite put my finger on it, because they sounded good (once it was corrected) and I liked the setlist, but something just was amiss. They were by far, the most deserving headliner, and none of those bands could have EVER gone on stage after them. I have yet to see a single band that compares to Twisted Sister live.

So alas, this is one of my crankier road reports and it seems odd that the show I’m most critical of is the one closest to my own home but there you have it. Mad Metal Lady did make it all better with a batch of cookies (they were long gone before Dokken took the stage) and it was nice to see a showing of Slamboarders outside of the tri-state circuit. I’ll see you all in Plymouth where hopefully we’ll have a show that doesn’t get rushed to the finish.

Armadillo…trotting off to do what I so RARELY get to do after a TS show….sleep in my own bed!

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Farmingdale (Long Island) NY, Crazy Donkey, 2/28/09
Saturday, February 28, 2009, 10:10 AM
Posted by Administrator
February 28, 2009
Crazy Donkey, Farmingdale NY (Long Island)
Good morning babies! This show had so much to write about that I’m actually posting this one from the road! (and here I was, so worried that I wouldn’t have anything to write differently from the last Bent Brother/Stay Hungry show!) so of course, I must oblige by giving all the facts you want to know…. and plenty you don’t!

First things first: Crazy Donkey. Now the real reason is revealed as to why Bent Brother played and not Twisted Sister: If the boys wore their costumes including those boots with heels, they would have had to cut a hole in the ceiling to fit the band! Dee must have hit the duct work at least three times. I believe Dee very succinctly, put it best: “Shithole.” The tasty food and scantily clad erotic dancers was barely enough to make up for the equipment malfunctions, leaky roof (in the center of the stage, no less) and a very cranky security guard in the front pit. This club was quite small too–I was a little worried when the place was empty for the first few acts, but by 9:30pm, the line outside had wrapped around the building!

We were all worried when we saw that there were four–oh lord–count ’em–four warmup acts. First on the docket was a band called Savior: I must admit that for the opening act, they were actually good. In fact, when you see folks from the back of the bar coming running up to the front, where it was empty, that says something. Good job!
Constricted came on 2nd—a speed metal band that looked like 3 of them came from the same mother. The lead singer, I swear, was the spitting image of a young Jackie Gleason. (Go ask your parents if you don’t know who that is…”To the moon, Alice!”) Musically, I was bored silly.
Third up was Wild Streets. Their lead singer was a cross between Anna Nicole Smith and what happens when Pat Benatar goes to Poison’s hair stylist: Bent Brother didn’t need to wear any makeup tonight because this boy had enough pancake on to count for all five of ’em! Hey, at least there were NO FRO’S on any of the bands tonight. Anyone who went to the Twisted Sister show with Z02 remembers…. Wild Streets was very entertaining–they played tightly, the lead singer sounded a bit like early Joe Elliott if you closed your eyes. Overall, a very good band, excellent stage presence and very talented. And they even had plenty of cowbell. And I could have sworn that was a member of Twisted’s road crew as their guitarist–I think his name is Keith–missed the last name. (help me out someone!)

Then we had an interlude with some lovelies wearing next to nothing shaking their money makers. It was, ummm. nice. thank you ladies. Boy, I felt old. And a little dirty.

And then a special treat. It wasn’t hype folks: American Beauty! It’s what happens when members of Skid Row, Ratt and Alice Cooper merge with Danny Stanton fronting. Folks, this was complete entertainment! They played all covers, but they were amazing–it was like a heavy metal juke box—anything you could throw at ’em, they can play! I am so used to seeing Danny in his subdued, dapper black jacket, cool, calm and collected–this was a whole new Danny. A wild n’ crazy Danny, a dare I say it? A sexual Danny! And damn he can sing…. I wish I had written down the whole set list but we heard everything from Cat Scratch Fever to a club shaking rendition of Balls To the Wall. (Eat your heart out Udo, he kicked this one’s ass good) I would go see American Beauty again and again. What a total treat.

Next: the Boys. Which, by the way, 10 pm sharp at the Donkey is closer to 10:25pm but who’s counting? (we were.) They had some pretty serious sound and equipment issues–and it was LOUD. I think Mark’s bass destroyed something–halfway through the show we heard sounds coming out the speakers that resembled a jet landing. My theme for the night: ask and ye shall receive. we asked for a mixed up, better setlist and they delivered. Here ya go: (and I counted this time)

1. Stay Hungry
2. Don’t Let Me Down
3. We’re Not Gonna Take It
4. Captain Howdy
5. Street Justice
6.The Price
7. Burn In Hell (then drum solo)
8. SMF
9. The Beast
10. I Wanna Rock
11. I am, I’m Me
12. Shoot ’em Down
13. It’s Only Rock and Roll
14. Under The Blade
15. You Can’t Stop Rock n’ roll

Bent Brother introduced the band tonight as let’s see, ZZ French, O.K. Pero, Free Snider…you get the picture. During the equipment repairs, Jay Jay did a little impromptu question and answer with the audience, with a history lesson about TS with props to the Old Schoolers. Leading to these quotes of the night:
Jay Jay: “It’s not the club, it’s the people”
Dee’s response: “It’s not the club, it’s the fucking equipment!”
They again reminded us that the new 25th anniversary release of Stay Hungry will have 17 bonus tracks, including one completely new song.

I think they would have actually played longer last night but the Donkey turns to a Disco after midnight. Say no more. Fortunately, they did keep spinning heavy metal to keep the crowd from running for the exits. Other highlights: we learned why ONLY the drummer should throw the sticks out into the audience. Eddie actually apologized–he beaned some poor guy in the noodle when he tried to throw a stick!

You know, there was so much good stuff last night—“I am I’m Me” just ROCKED the house! Loved hearing Shoot ’em Down, AJ’s drum solo was particularly off the charts. During “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll”, Dee and JJ had a sidebar, trying to remember the first time they played that song…followed by a moment of enlightenment: 25 yrs of singing that cover, and Dee realizes he doesn’t LIKE rock and roll, he LOVES it. And that’s how we sang it for the rest of the song.
I’d go on and on, but I’ve got to duck out and buy my Merriweather Post ticket for May, and a 5 hour drive home awaits me.

Armadillo, trotting off to find a Cracker Barrel….

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