Despite hearing the name mentioned from various quadrants, I've never really investigated Kid Dynamite. So, when fellow staffer Joe Pelone let me know that Kid Dynamite was playing a mere 25 minutes from my work, what could I do but make the trip? I thought it was a little odd that the band, who draw so heavily from the '90s hardcore sound, was playing O'Neil's Irish Pub in San Mateo, a suburb of San Francisco. Still, when I arrived at the show on July 26, 2013, they seemed to be perfectly within their natural setting.
Cramped in the back of the pub between keg equipment and a table full of patrons, Kid Dynamite made little fanfare as soon as they kicked into their first song, a cover of the Goo Goo Dolls "Slide." The vocalist's voice was surprisingly agile, able to mimic the scratchy delivery of the original without going overboard. Likewise, on Kid Dynamite's cover of John Mellancamp's "Hurts So Good" he retained a certain broad vocalization that was designed for anthemic delivery.
Still, at points, his clean voice was a little too smooth. Both AC/DC's "Highway to Hell" and Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" require some vinegar in the honey, but the vocalist seemed content to make his delivery as pretty as possible. Likewise, he did a little too much showing off on the cover of Sublime's "Bad Fish," adding in modulations of the original which made the song sound plastic, negating some of its original rawness. Still, he has a natural talent, such as when he hit the high notes on the power-pop anthem "I Want You to Want Me." When applied with some feeling, he could make some really great songs.
The band played simple, workmanlike versions of the songs. While they kept the moment from tune to tune, and the dance floor somewhat occupied, they were a little too loose. Some practice tightening up their instrumentation could make tunes likes "American Girl" really pop. They did pay tribute to their punk influences with renditions of Billy Idol's "White Wedding" and Green Day's "When I Come Around." Perhaps because the audience was most people of early middle age, these songs were among the most well received of the evening.
Kid Dynamite seem to still be finding their footing. Throughout the night, all four members of Kid Dynamite rarely moved about onstage, which sunk their energy somewhat. Their technical skills are coming along nicely, but they need to inject some feeling into their singing and playing. Perhaps they seem somewhat mired in American Idol renditions because they rely on all covers. A few originals could really make this band go to the next level of their live performance.
Slide (Goo Goo Dolls cover)
American Girl (Tom Petty Cover)
Hurts So Good (John Cougar Mellancamp cover)
Hungry Like the Wolf (Duran Duran cover)
White Wedding (Billy Idol cover)
You Give Love a Bad Name (Bon Jovi cover)
Bad Fish (Sublime cover)
I Want You to Want Me (Cheap Trick cover)
The Middle (Jimmy Eat World cover)
Walk This Way (Aerosmith cover)
Highway to Hell (AC/DC cover)
The Joker (Steve Miller cover)
Your Love (The Outfield cover)
When I Come Around (Green Day cover)
Kryptonite (Three Doors Down Cover)
Sex on Fire (Kings of Leon cover)
-Kid Dynamite has a bunch of shows coming up throughout August and September. I'll probably check in with them in a little while to see how they are improving. Check out their tour dates here.