The  80s hair band KIX ends its York area gig drought tonight at White Rose Thunder at The York Expo Center.
The 80s hair band KIX ends its York area gig drought tonight at White Rose Thunder at The York Expo Center. (SUBMITTED)
About three decades ago, KIX was making waves with loud rock and big hair.

The group, which started in Hagerstown, Md., in the late '70s, was a fixture on the regional music scene, drawing crowds in Harrisburg, York, Lancaster and Baltimore.

In 1981, the band signed with Atlantic Records. Next, came a string of successful albums, radio airtime and opening slots for Aerosmith as the '80s faded into the '90s.

Then, everything changed.

A new sound, which would come to be known as grunge rock, filtered in from Seattle.

Suddenly, it wasn't cool to be a band that used hairspray and synthesizers.

"There was a new party in town, and we weren't invited," said KIX frontman Steve Whiteman. But it had been a fun ride for the band, he added, which parted ways in the mid-90s.

"We bowed out and did other things," he said. "We thought it was gone."

But, within the past decade, there has been an influx of '80s nostalgia. The sounds and styles of the time reappeared and so did KIX.

And, to the reunited band's surprise, fans remembered them and welcomed them back. It was like the '90s never happened.

"It's kind of crazy," Whiteman admitted. "The whole genre is resurrected. It's better today."

About five years ago, the group reached back into the Central Pennsylvania market. It booked Gettysburg Bike Week twice.

But Whiteman said the group probably hasn't played the York area in about

15 years.


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The drought ends tonight. KIX will get the Bike Night party started when they open for Vince Neil at White Rose Thunder.

Crowds for hair bands have swelled in this region, but Whiteman has seen folks clamoring for the genre across the country.

KIX has played festivals including Rocklahoma, Rock the Bayou, M3 and Monsters of Rock.

Some things haven't changed on tour, Whiteman said. A lot of the bands KIX crossed paths with in the'80s, including Ratt, Warrant and Cinderella, are making music again.

Some lineups have changed and some of the biggest names - Bret Michaels of Poison and Neil of Motley Crue - have gone solo.

Other things on tour are different.

"We used to hop on our tour bus and pound the pavement," White said. "It was grueling."

Now, he added, it's a little easier. KIX flies to festivals - mostly March to October - and commutes to closer gigs. For a night, the group can help people relive their youth or make new fans.

"When we speak to fans they say, 'I've seen you guys fifty times, and now I have my kids here,'" Whiteman said. That, he added, is why the group got back in the game.

There was music before the '80s. Whiteman said The Beatles were his first love.

And music has evolved since that decade. Tunes from Fun and Maroon 5 are among the 5,000 songs on Whiteman's iPod. But, for KIX, the bigger the rock and the tighter the pants, the better.

"I still own jeans (that are) 25 years old," Whiteman said. He pulls them out these days, since the skinny style is all the rage.


If you go

White Rose Thunder runs today through Sunday at the York Expo Center, 334 Carlisle Ave., West Manchester Township. The event will include music, racing, a bike show, a tattoo expo, food and more.

Admission is $15 per day for adults and free for children 12 and younger.

Tickets are an additional $15 to today's KIX and Vince Neil concert. Tickets will be available the night of the show.

Cost to see the flat track motorcycle racing on Saturday will cost an additional $15 per person. Race admission and pit passes will be available for $25.

For details and tickets, visit whiterosethunder.com.


Hours, lineup

Gates open 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. today; KIX will perform at 6 p.m. and Vince Neil will play at 8:30 p.m.

Gates open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday; Trailer Park Cowboys will perform at noon. The Revelators will follow at 3 p.m.

Gates open 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday; Mustang Sally will perform at 6 p.m.

Gates open 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday.

Check out other White Rose Thunder and York City Bike Night events at ydr.com.


More music at White Rose

White Rose Bar & Grill, 48 N. Beaver St., York, will host a parking lot party Friday and Saturday. It will feature outdoor bars, beer and half-priced burgers. Phipps & Friends, Bridge Side Ride and Martini Brothers will provide live music. Bike parking will be available. For details, visit whiterosebarandgrill.com.


Online

KIX: www.kix-band.com

Vince Neil: www.vinceneilfc.com

Read more celebrity interviews: www.yorkblog.com/flipside/celebrity-interviews