By Melissa DeBrigida-Parent
The M3 Rock Festival has come and gone, leaving us with unforgettable memories of two epic days filled with rock music, camaraderie, and pure joy. This year, there was a slight change in the format as the festival condensed into two days/nights instead of the usual three. Personally, I found this new arrangement to be fantastic. It eliminated the Friday rush-hour traffic stress, especially for those of us driving three hours to reach the festival grounds. After enduring a few years of terrible weather, I was anxious about what Mother Nature had in store for us. Fortunately, Saturday surprised us with glorious sunshine and temperatures in the 70s, creating the perfect setting for a day of fun under the sun.
As I made my way to the lawn area, where beach chairs and blankets were scattered everywhere, I couldn't help but notice the infectious energy and excitement radiating from the crowd. It was as if we were all part of one big family reunion. M3 Rock Festival is more than just a music event; it's a gathering of friends, some of whom live out of state and whom we haven't seen since the previous year. Additionally, it provides an opportunity to build connections with the amazing venue staff. The staff at Merriweather never fails to impress, and a special shout-out goes to the girls at the entrance. We adore you and can't wait to see you again next year!
Our hosts this year, Tommy London and Mark Strigl from SiriusXM Boneyard and Hair Nation, brought long-time music photographer Mark Weiss on stage for an insightful conversation about his book, "The Decade That Rocked: The Photography Of Mark 'Weissguy' Weiss." It was a treat to witness their exchange, and fans had the chance to purchase the book on-site, immersing themselves in the iconic images captured by Weiss.
Like every year, there were a few lineup changes. Unfortunately, Extreme had to cancel their Saturday performance, which was a disappointment. However, they were swiftly replaced by Voyage - The Ultimate Journey Tribute, a New York-based band. Let me tell you, Hugo Valenti, the lead singer, could pass as Steve Perry's twin both in terms of looks and vocal prowess. Valenti and his bandmates completely owned the stage, and the M3 audience showered them with a well-deserved standing ovation as their set came to an end.
Another noteworthy performance on the first day came from Count's 77, a West Coast rock band. This marked their second appearance at M3, and they absolutely delivered. Their high-octane set captivated the crowd, leaving us craving for more.
Quiet Riot was undoubtedly a standout for me on day one. The on-stage dynamic between Sarzo and Pearl was electrifying, and their performance was nothing short of exceptional. They reminded us why they are true rock legends.
Saturday's headliner was none other than the iconic Styx. From the moment they hit the stage, they transported us back in time with their timeless hits. The crowd was treated to an unforgettable journey with songs like "The Grand Illusion," "Lorelei," "Lady," "Come Sail Away," "Blue Collar Man," and "Renegade." As a long-time fan and photographer, witnessing Styx live was a dream come true and a definite check off my bucket list.
The full lineup for Saturday included Count's 77, Child's Play, Billy Childs/Britny Fox, Lita Ford, Quiet Riot, Slaughter, Winger, and Styx. Each band brought their unique energy and talent, contributing to the overall magic of the festival.
Sunday's lineup experienced a change due to the illness of Mike Tramp from "White Lion." However, this allowed the other bands to have a bit more set time, making for a well-rounded day of rock.
The second day kicked off with a group of young and talented rockers known as The Backstage Rock Academy Band. These kids showcased their passion and potential, leaving us in awe of their skills. They are undoubtedly the future rock stars we should keep an eye on.
Vixen, an all-female rock band, graced the stage with their powerful and high-energy performance. Frontwoman Lorraine Lewis commanded the stage from the first note to the last, captivating the audience with her remarkable presence.
Our hometown heroes, Heavens Edge, hosted a record release party at The Merriweather Lake House Hotel late on Saturday night. The event featured a live performance as well. Titled "Get It Right," the new record by Heavens Edge (Frontiers Music Srl) is their first release in twenty-five years, and it truly rocks! They also took the stage on Sunday, with Matt Stanley filling in on guitar and Percy Trayanov on bass. Heavens Edge put on a great set which included Mark Evans and Steve Parry doing "Just Another Fire."
A standout moment on Sunday was the debut of Brett Carlisle, the new vocalist for Great White. He flawlessly nailed every song, proving that the band's legacy lives on.
Sunday night's headliner and M3 staple, Maryland's own, Kix stunned the crowd by announcing during their set that the band has decided to retire after forty five years of rocking your face off, kicking ass and taking names. A piece of my heart broke hearing that news as this band puts on one of the best live shows I've seen. Their last show (which I think is sold out already) will be September 17 at the Merriweather Post Pavilion.
The M3 Rock Festival 2023 was a whirlwind of music, friendship, and rock 'n' roll spirit. As the final notes echoed through the venue, I couldn't help but feel grateful for the memories made and the connections forged. Until next year, M3 Rockers! Keep the spirit of rock alive.
Sunday's Full Line-Up: Backstage Rock Academy Band, Heavens Edge, Vixen, Riley's LA Guns, FireHouse, Steven Adler, Great White, Warrant, Kix
M3 Rock Festival 2024 has been confirmed. Stay tuned for details!!
Stories, news and reviews presented by the staff of Philly Rock Radio.