Originally formed by Ronnie Younkins, Brian Forsythe, and Donnie Purnell down in Maryland back in the late ’70s, Kix has always been a Rock-n-Roll band with a working class attitude. Once referred to as The Baltimore Cocks, Kix has a rich, interesting history, and thankfully for fans, they are still electrifying stages almost four decades later. Celebrating a wave of success in the ’80s, with albums such as 1988’s Blow My Fuse, much like many from the bands of the era, by the time the Grunge movement hit in the ’90s, they felt there was no longer a place for them. Taking sometime off from the band, Kix resurfaced in the new millennium and have been rocking ever since with consisting touring and even new music coming in 2014 in the form of Rock Your Face Off.
Now with a lineup consisting of Forsythe (guitar), Steve Whiteman (vocals), Jimmy Chalfant (drums), Younkins (guitar), as well as Mark Schenker (bass), Kix remain on the road for much of 2016. After a long five-year wait, they returned to New York City on Sunday June 26th. In fact, it was on July 8th of 2011 the last time the band visited The City That Never Sleeps when they came to B.B. Kings Club & Grill. So it would seem almost fitting their return would be at the same venue, and this time with perhaps even more buzz due to the long time span.
On this evening, the Long Island Hard Rock act known as Strike Twice opened up as direct support. Waiting with overflowing excitement for Kix to take the stage, fans grabbed a drink at the bar and walked up front to ready to kick off the Rock show. As for Strick Twice, they have been around since the late ’80s when Michael Hayes (vocals) and Rob Luv (guitar) created the group out of the love for Hard Rock. Reforming in 2009, just in time for the self-titled album Strike Twice, these Long Island Rockers have always sparked excitement filled with ’80s Metal fun, and this evening was no different.
Hayes and the rest of the group walked onto the platform and went right into their set with songs “Tough Luck,” “Get It,” “Backdoor,” and “Undress Me.” Moving around the stage to interact with the crowd, Hayes enthusiastically stated, “Not much better than Rock N’ Roll on a Sunday Night.” Turning it up a notch during the emotive ballad “Wake Up Crying,” he walked directly into the crowd to sing along with his fans. As the music continued to fly high, a dual guitar solo sprung during “Intoxication” as fans kept on swaying along before Hayes introduced the next cut, called “Dirty Lover.” Moving on, Hayes defined the next track as something ’80s mixed with today as they went into “Do You Love Me?” While fans were cheering along with the music, the set came to a close when they went into a song that was #1 in German charts, “Don’t Fuck With Me.” An energetic and ’80s induced performance, Strike Twice where the perfect supporting act for Kix’s shenanigans coming next.
At this point, the floor was filled to near capacity as fans pushed towards the front to get a good spot to witness the show. With not much of a break between acts, everyone screamed with joy when Kix hit the stage and went into “Wheels in Motion,” from Rock Your Face Off. Whiteman smiled at the crowd as he informed all how it had been a long time since they were in New York City as they flowed into classics “Sex,” from 1985’s Midnite Dynamite, and “No Ring Around Rosie,” from the acclaimed Blow My Fuse.
Continuing on, Whiteman’s energy appeared on point and comical as ever as he looked into the audience and made a personal announcement, “I am looking for a serious relationship after the show.” Everyone laughed at the vocalist’s bold humor as he continued to engage them and showed appreciation for everyone coming out on a Sunday night. Playfully joking about the twenty-year break between two albums, Whieman urged fans to listen to the new album whether by downloading or even stealing it as they moved into the titled track, “Rock Your Face Off.”
Keeping the mood loose and fun, Whiteman continued to thank the audience and egged them on to scream out, “You’re welcome.” Meeting his request, Whiteman was still all smiles as he took out a tambourine and went into the classic “The Itch,” from the band’s 1981 self-titled debut. Admitting to the house they had a six-hour drive into New York, and did not have enough preparation time, they were all a bit frazzled. Despite this fact, no one looked frazzled as the aderaline continued to rise with another newer song, “Mean Miss Adventure.”
Keeping everyone laughing and having a blast, Whiteman expressed how New York people are quick and mentioned that he wanted either, “A serious relationship, a little cuddle, a beer or two, or a little hickey,” before segueing into “Cold Shower.” Whiteman wanted to know if everyone was feeling “happy and horny” as he playfully lifted up his shirt and asked, “Wanna see my tits?” Eating up the tongue-in-cheek sense of humor, the fans kept grooving to the music as Kix offered a more serious tune, “You’re Gone.” Then after a minor appearance change for Whiteman he put on a pair of shades and a top hat for the classic ballad “Don’t Close Your Eyes.” The shades did not last long, since it blocked his vision, resulting in him mistakingly placed the microphone upside down. All in good fun, once the shades came off and the microphone reached its correct placement, the song progressed as everyone in attendance sang along. Keeping everyone involved, Whiteman prepared them for next mix of songs including “Same Jane” and “Love Me With Your Top Down.”
With much of the attention on Whiteman, the spotlight then directed itself to Younkins as he went into an impressive guitar solo before firing back up with the entire band for “Cold Blood.” Not to be overlooked, Chalfant shared in the glory for his own solo on the drums just before the band finished the set with “Blow My Fuse.” Departing from the stage, it was clear no one had enough as everyone chanted “Kix” for an encore. Whiteman expressed, “We are not the band that leaves and asks for fans to cry for the band.” Despite what Whiteman said, fans continued to scream “Kix! Kix! Kix!” Shortly after the mocking was over, the encore began with “Girl Money” before the band had everyone jump simultaneously with “Midnite Dynamite” concluding the evening.
Kix is one of the few bands that fill a crowd with endless surprises from a frontman that consists of maintaining an easy going attitude, dropping down on the floor, making split jumps in the air, rocking out a harmonica and tambourine all in one sitting. Whiteman knows how to interact, entertain, and perform at the same time, which makes Kix an extraordinary act to see live. The rest of the band, Forsythe, Younkins, Chalfant, and Schenker, enhances the experience as well with constant guitar movements, energetic basslines, as well as enjoyable pounds on the drums. Kix continues to perform around the Eastern area of the United States throughout the summer, but they will be heading out to California in October for the Monsters of Rock Cruise. Hopefully next time New York City will not need to wait five years before this rowdy Rock-n-Roll band returns.