Yesterday, I attended my very first hair-metal festival: The M3 held in Columbia, Maryland. The two-day event brings out some of the greatest bands from the decade of decadence and each year, seems to get bigger and bigger.
This years show included JSRG (featuring the ladies of Vixen), Twisted Sister, Firehouse and too many more to mention. But needless to say, MANY of them are my favorites and some of the bands I’ve never seen in concert before.
Rather than just write a review of the festival (besides to say that it was AWESOME), I’d rather submit to you three rules that I feel are a must for anyone attending an 80’s metal event.
1. Always be prepared to tell war stories: When you attend any concert, especially a festival like M3, always be prepared to tell tales from your glory days. Because let’s face it, if you attended a show back in ‘the day’, you’ve got stories to tell. Maybe it was seeing how far you could get backstage before security escorted you out. Maybe it was the ritual of wearing the concert shirt you bought at the show to school the next day (proof that you were there). Or maybe it was asking yourself why the band didn’t perform your favorite, most obscure album track that night. Whatever the reason, be ready at all times to discuss it. Oh, and don’t be one of those people who only offers up conversation to complete strangers when asked. Look for openings to tell your stories.
Ex. Yesterday at M3, I noticed some guy wearing a t-shirt with a logo for the band Hurricane, and I immediately gave the “Nice Shirt” salutation. Hurricane was one of my favorite bands back in the late 80’s who’s lead singer (Kelly Hansen) is now the lead singer of Foreigner. We exchanged pleasantries and I told him that I remember seeing Hurricane back in 1987; the first concert where I was in the front row. Even though the band has been dissolved for more than twenty years, he started rambling off songs that were his favorites (many were mine too). Needless to say, it made for a great conversation with a total stranger.
If only countries at war with each other could use this same kind of logic to resolve their differences, the world would be a much better place.
2. Dress to impress (to an extent): Any metal fan will tell you that it’s ok to dress-up for a metal concert. Yep, it’s still cool to see girls who tease their hair; and wearing old concert t-shirts is an absolute must (and can even spark conversations – see rule #1). But, please bear in mind that this is not the 80’s anymore. Sadly, we are thirty years removed from our glory days.
So whether it’s a hair metal concert you’re attending or driving your kids to the mall, common courtesy still suggests that large, saggy-boobed women and thick in the middle men take care of these concerns prior to venturing out in public. In other words, we don’t have the same bodies that we did when we were teenagers; and just because it’s M3, that doesn’t mean you should (literally) let it all hang out. There was a little too much of that going on for my liking. (Hint: black tends to cover these things quite well. Just sayin’).
3. Enjoy the moment. The best thing for me about M3 was the experience itself. Many of these bands I have never seen before or have heard anything from in years, and it left me with mixed emotion. But halfway through their set, Twisted Sister guitarist Jay Jay French stopped the show and spoke to the audience about today’s music.
He said that although there certainly is a place for people on the reality shows like American Idol and The Voice; he was offended that these same people (who’ve never paid their dues) continue to thank their “fans” for sticking with them the past four weeks by continuing to vote for them. To the loudest applause of the entire M3 Festival, French then raised his hands to the thousands of people in the audience and said, “Let’s see if they’ll still be doing it in 30 years like you all! The greatest fans ever!”
It made me lament even more never having had the opportunity to see the band in their prime. But on the three-hour drive home, I took comfort in the fact that not only could I now scratch Twisted Sister off of my list of having seen, but even more importantly: I know that the music I love is still safe and sound.