We got there a little before Steelheart came on. S. was very excited about seeing them; I couldn't really remember any of their songs. They were loud, especially the guitars - maybe even too loud; there was some feedback which made the guitars indistinct. The singer had a strong voice and was jumping around, and the bassist (an old bald guy) was also spinning around and doing other antics. They sounded great for a band near the bottom of the bill - good vocals and heavy guitars with strong metal riffs.
There was a little break, with no one on the "Festival" stage, and then Trixter came on the main stage. They had clearer guitars than Steelheart, but did not sound as metal. The backing vocals, done by band members, were horrible (I'm not exaggerating - they were off key and unpolished), and the singer himself was just all right. Their hit "One in a Million" sounded pretty good (minus terrible backing vocals), but otherwise I found them unremarkable.
The next band on the Festival stage, Tuff, was a little better. They had some metal guitar parts (heavy, riffy) such as on "Good Guys Wear Black" and "American Haircore" - I mean, "American Hair Band" - but most of the guitars were bland. The backing vocals were much better than Trixter's (not a difficult feat of course) - maybe because they consisted more of punk-like shouting than singing. I thought the vocals were strong overall. Aside from "American Hair Band," though, the songs were not very interesting.
After that was JSRG (formed by members of Vixen) on the main stage. They were excellent, with great guitar work and strong vocals. I especially liked the vocals, which were a little bit deep and rough, and very powerful. For some reason I was not very familiar with Vixen songs, so I don't recall any specifics about their songs, but I enjoyed their set.
Great White was next on the festival stage. They were good technically - I can't fault their musicianship or vocalist - but they weren't very interesting to me. Their sound leaned more toward the rock end of the hair band spectrum - slow and mellow, not very heavy - which is not really my thing. I dig heavy guitars.
The band I was probably looking forward to most was Japanese metal band Loudness, who played on the main stage. They were (of course) ten times heavier than any of the other bands at M3 Fest. They had great heavy guitars, but like Steelheart, the guitars were a little too loud again. They drowned out the vocals sometimes, or made the vocals and guitars sound mismatched. Still, I enjoyed their performance.
After Loudness, we took a dinner break while King's X played, since S. was not interested in them. I could see why - the bits we heard were pretty generic, fine for background music, not worth not sitting on the lawn though.
Our dinner break ended when hair metal parody band Steel Panther came on the main stage. As I hoped, they were hilarious, and also sounded great. Their ridiculous talk (mostly making fun of each other or making statements like "the heaviest singer at this festival on this stage in this time slot") and over-the-top songs were very entertaining. And if one looked (listened?) past their ludicrous lyrics about getting some in all kinds of comically exaggerated ways, their guitar work and vocals were very good. S.'s friend T. commented that it was a shame they were so far higher on the bill than "the bands they're making fun of," but I thought it was with good reason - they gave one of the most polished, entertaining and technically spot on performances of the day. Unfortunately, we missed their last two songs ("17 Girls in a Row" and "Death to All but Metal") because Firehouse started on the festival stage.
Coming straight from Steel Panther's bombastic performance, Firehouse seemed a little plain at first, but they sounded good. They played a lot of songs from their first album, which I was most familiar with - "All She Wrote," "Overnight Sensation," "Love of a Lifetime," "Don't Treat Me Bad." Besides that, they only played one or two other songs (I know "When I Look Into Your Eyes" was one of them) - it seemed like a rather short set, at least for so far along in the day. Still, I was stoked to have heard "Love of a Lifetime," my favorite song of theirs. T wanted to pick S up on his shoulders during "Don't Treat Me Bad," but S. refused, so I got him to pick me up instead \m/
Me making T hate his life during Firehouse's set
After that was Twisted Sister on the main stage - the last band at M3 Fest that I was actually looking forward to seeing. I'm not a huge fan of them, but they're one of those iconic bands that I wouldn't want to miss given the chance to see them. Hearing them play "We're Not Gonna Take It" was one of those experiences every metalhead needs to have at least once in a lifetime. I was pretty pleased with their performance overall - Dee Snider's voice still sounds good, his hair looks about the same as in the 80's, and he was running all over the stage. The rest of the band sounded good, too, but it was Dee's energy and presence that carried it. He talked too much, though, going on about shows in other countries and how America has to sing "I Wanna Rock" the loudest, which made the set drag at points.
After Twisted Sister, it was back to the festival stage to see Jackyl. S. and T. were pumped, but I couldn't wait for their set to be over. I find the singer's voice annoying, and his songs and talk crude and not funny. They killed the energy for me; I was ready to leave when they finished.
S. and T. wanted to stay and hear a bit of Bret Michaels, though - even though T. in particular had spent most of the day dissing him. Bret sounded good, but he played too many covers of non-metal songs (such as "Sweet Home Alabama") instead of Poison songs. By that time, it was very cold, and in my opinion, even Poison is not worth standing out in the cold. In addition, he also talked too much, which made it even more boring. I dragged S. and T. away about 3/4 through the set, just before he played "Every Rose Has Its Thorns" (we heard it as we were walking out of Merriweather).
I enjoyed M3 Fest a lot more this year than last year - maybe it was the line-up, the fact that I got familiar with the bands ahead of time, or that I was able to stay the whole day. Whatever the reason, I'm pretty sure I'll go again next year, as long as S. and T. don't mind me tagging along.
S. wrote a review of Day 1 of M3 Fest as well as Day 2, and posted some photos.
Next concert: Mago de Oz, 5/22