Devon Wendell’s review of the Hot Kicks is appearing a bit late, due to no fault of his. My recent move, with its attendent communications hassles, delayed a lot of editing, posting, etc. Despite the lateness of the review, however, we didn’t want Devon’s coverage of this Australian band to slip by the wayside. So here it is. D.H.
By Devon Wendell
In rock n’ roll, it’s not a requirement to re-invent the wheel. The ends justify the means, and well delivered clichés in the name of fun and sentimentality are gleefully welcomed. At The Key Club on Monday night, March 30, Melbourne’s own band, The HOT KICKS (Mick Kicks: lead vocals/bass, Pete Kicks: guitar, and Kim Kicks on drums), seemed to be well aware of that notion.
The KICKS’ Sunset Strip-ready look was reliable rock and roll, a mixture of classic, punk, and Alternative, matching their sound and their stage presence.
The Trio has already received international radio and critical success this past year with their indie hit “Kid in a Candy Store,” which kicked off their set. The song had a Led Zeppelin-meets-Jane’s-Addiction heavy, guitar riffs and percussive feel. Even the group’s starker material, like “Insane” and “Sucker,” generated gratitude and enthusiasm from their loyal audience — rock n’ roll without self-deprecating teen angst, gloom and doom.
Mick Kicks’ post grunge vocals were most effective on their biggest hit, “Pretty Little Face.” Pete Kicks’ guitar playing was solid, with little self-indulgence, even when resorting to the overly used stage gimmick of playing the guitar with a non-fowl drum stick. He especially llocked into the group’s tight sound in “The Money,” alternating between distorted wah-wah leads and solid rhythm playing.
Kim Kicks has quickly become known as one of the best rock drummers around, with enough energy to light up a small city, fusing humor and flash with a loud, dominating stage presence. She was also the punk spirit of the band, spitting water, flailing her arms, and using spastic facial expressions – like a female version of the Animal from “The Muppets,” with true musicianship.
The set came to a close with the crowd singing along to “Sweet Love” and “All Too Easy,” as Mick graciously thanked the beer swigging, head bopping audience, which had been given an extra hour of fun and kicks to conclude its weekend. Loud and captivating, the HOT KICKS provided plenty of irresistible thunder from down under.