Since KIX announced their retirement from performing live at M3 Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion on May 7, 2023, fans have been traveling from afar to catch as many shows as possible. We joined the fanatics and caught KIX’s second to last performance in Hinkley, MN on September 8, 2023, before traveling to Baltimore for a final ‘homecoming’ performance ever on September 17, 2023, because after all “who the f*ck wants to end their career in Hinkley, MN?!”
So in true KIX fashion, the Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, MD filled the house despite the rain for “KIX…Walkin’ Away, The Final Show.” And while we are so sad that KIX won’t be joining us for their annual holiday show at Jergel’s, we are honored to have had a spot in the pit and to give you a full recap from the event.
The night began with a long line of fans lined up at the gates and a rush to the merchandise stand for t-shirts, stickers, albums, autographed drum heads and more despite the fact that it was pouring. But there was plenty of merchandise to go around for all, and a few lucky fans were even able to snag themselves some gifts from the band as sticks, drum heads, and guitar picks were flying off the stage at the end of the night. Management even told us that they’d hoped to shoot t-shirts out of a cannon, but the fire marshal wasn’t on-board with t-shirt bombs.
Child’s Play took the stage at 7pm to warm up the crowd for the main attraction. Like KIX, this was the second performance for Child’s Play at the pavilion this year. However, the line-up was slightly different this evening than for their M3 Rock Festival Performance.
The set began with John Allen fronting the band while Jason Heiser took the seat behind the kit, and later the original frontman Larry Hinshaw took the microphone for a few songs while John played drums. They were joined by Nicky Kay on guitar and his son Mikhali, as well as original bassist Phil Wiser.
While local fans would certainly remember hearing Child’s Play on the radio or catching them live at Hammerjacks, our first exposure to the band was from a Chrysalis Records’ sampler cassette and their video for “Rat Race” from MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball. Eventually we got the album and clearly played the hell out of it because decades later I caught myself singing along to songs like “Day After Night” and “My Bottle.”
For those who haven’t followed the history, John, Jason, and Nick also joined forces in the band Charm City Devils, and John and Jason will soon be hitting the road with their other band Stone Horses this November in support of Brother Cane (with a local show at Jergel’s on November 11, 2023).
Additional Child’s Play dates have also been added with performances at Brooklyn Bowl on Saturday, November 25, 2023 in support of Philadelphia’s own Heaven’s Edge, and at the Baltimore Soundstage on December 16, 2023.
As the crowd packed the walkways and greeted friends from around the world between bands, the stage crew transitioned from a stripped-down sheet backdrop and minimal lighting to a larger than life pyro experience from Pittsburgh-based Zambelli Fireworks, big screen video show, and an elevated catwalk to send off the KIX band in style.
Original band members Steve Whiteman, Brian Forsythe, Ronnie Younkins, Jimmy Chalfant, and longtime bassist Mark Schenker took the stage for the very last time. They were joined by guitarist Bob Pare who has been filling in for Ronnie the past several years as well as special guest Brad Divens (Souls at Zero, Wrathchild America) who played on the band’s Cool Kids album. So as the photos will show, at times there were two, three and even four guitarists performing together.
Not surprising, because we all know that from their supersized balloon drops to the oversized KIX umbrella, this is one band that likes to go big! And that they did…big sound, big screen, big set list…but eventually, the night did come to an end, and I for one didn’t make it through the night without shedding a tear. For a band that jokingly says they only had one hit (“Don’t Close Your Eyes”) they sure made one hell of an impact on the lives of so many fans and fellow musicians and sure wrote a lot of cool grooves.
Consequently, this was more than just a concert, it was a going away party and everyone was welcomed. We shared laughs and stories with friend from Nashville, Boston, Seattle, and more, and we shared hugs and took photos with the band who later joined the party at our M3 Rock Festival home-base that is the Merriweather Lakehouse Hotel. And we stayed long after the bar closed…because, well, it was so very hard to walk away.
The crowd at the pavilion included drummer Matt Starr (Mr. Big, Ace Frehley) who supported Jimmy on this year’s Monsters of Rock Cruise, and Funny Money bandmate Dean Cramer (SO LOW, Bret Michaels Band), who only caught part of the show having been delayed in flight from Denver.
For those that couldn’t join the party, the set included a so many favorites. They kicked off with “Atomic Bombs,” and ended with “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” from their self-titled 1981 release. In fact, they decided to squeeze in twelve additional songs by orchestrating three medleys that were sprinkled throughout the set. Naturally, they covered all the favorites (even the ones that Steve hates to sing like my ultimate favorite “Cold Shower”).
As the night wound down, reality started to set in when we eagerly listened to the crowd participation from all those guys too busy drinking to realize that Steve asked them to sing “Cold Blood” if they had a small dick, and watched as the band hit the deck with one of our all-time favorite KIX choreographed moves during “Blow My Fuse.”
When the final medley of “Tear Down the Walls” and “Walkin’ Away” kicked in, we prepared for our final opportunity to shoot the KIX band before they thanked their crew, management, and booking agent, inviting them to take a bow in unison with the band in as the crowd drowned in a sea of confetti and KIX-branded balloons. Like many, I know that words can’t express the gratitude that I have for the music of KIX.
But it is so much more than music, it’s the opportunities I’ve had to introduce their new songs and interview the band on the radio; the grainy old photos I took at my first KIX show that stayed on my mantle for years and the crisp new ones I’ve captured this past year; the 5K fun runs with Brian, buffet-line conversations with Ronnie, and fun photos with Steve on the Monsters of Rock Cruise; and so much more…tell us your favorite memories on social. We can’t wait to hear them, because one thing is for certain, the live shows may be over, but the music and the memories remain! Thank you KIX! And, You’re Welcome!
Follow us @ThePureRockShop for lots more captures from this show, recaps, news, and interviews from of local and regional concerts and festivals including, Glen Hughes tomorrow, The Guess Who on Thursday, and Geoff Tate on Saturday. And be sure to hit our archives for coverage from M3 Rock Festivals, KIXmas shows at Jergel’s, and Monsters of Rock Cruises, as well as our interview with Steve Whiteman around his solos album release.
Live Photos by Editor and founder Kara Marie Uhrlen for The Pure Rock Shop. Posted on 9/19/2023.