By Kevin Brandt Special to Published Nov 01, 2006 at 5:18 AM

MiniKISS bills itself as the “one and only first ever littlest KISS tribute band in the world.”

While truth in advertising is always refreshing, particularly this close to an election, watching MiniKISS perform a Halloween show before a couple hundred fans – some amused and some amazed -- Tuesday night at the Pabst Theater drove home a deep, dark secret about the original, full-sized KISS that millions know and love:

It was never about the music.

Audiences around the world think of live KISS shows as the Psycho Circus. MiniKISS is the sideshow.

Now, if they could only play the music.

Admittedly they play to a backing track, however three of the four members are actual musicians with some level of musical expertise. One could argue that is a better ratio than the real KISS. But, MiniKISS isn’t about the music. It’s about little people dressing up like KISS. And that is what people pay to see.

After an opening set by Beatallica, MiniKISS stormed the stage with the ferocity of… well, four little guys pretending to be Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss.

Opening the show a half-hour late with “Shout it Out Loud” the band went into “I Was Made for Loving You” and “Hard-Luck Woman.” Three songs into the set, the band abandoned the KISS catalog to play “Home Sweet Home” by Motley Crue. A look at the MiniKISS Web site – – reveals that the band also does a miniature tribute of Motley Crue. (Considering that most of us have seen the famous Tommy Lee video, that might be a tougher act to mimic than KISS). After the Crue song, the band morphed into mini-Judas Priest with a version of “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’.”

Although the crowd was enthusiastic and seemed to enjoy the novelty of the event and the detail of the makeup and the costumes, even some diehard members of the KISS Army went AWOL after just a few songs. The fact that pyrotechnics were scaled down (I think there was a half a Roman candle in mini-Ace’s guitar) didn’t help.

When one of the promoters mentioned the possibility of a post-show photo opportunity with the band, I declined the offer, citing the Ron Jeremy principle.

What’s the Ron Jeremy principle, you ask?

It’s the realization that the mere idea of spending time with Ron Jeremy is cooler than actually spending time with him. And, the idea of hanging around to get a picture taken with MiniKISS was probably far cooler than actually doing it.

Although it would be difficult to give MiniKISS a high grade for the show, you have to admire their ability to tap into a something that, much like NASCAR and pro wrestling, tends to confuse as many people as it excites.

When you get right down to it, there isn’t a band in the world other than KISS that could spawn a midget tribute. There is no MiniBruce, MiniStones, MiniBeatles or MiniZeppelin. (Although there is a lesbian Zeppelin tribute, Lez Zeppelin, which is playing a show Nov. 12 at Shank Hall). If you think about it, any other Mini tribute would only fall short of the original. Stop it. I am killing myself here.

The bottom line about the MiniKISS show is that the whole evening was a sight gag. It was (and is) interesting and amusing, but it ran its course quickly.

Beatallica, the opening act is a true original. Combining the works of the Beatles with the sound of Metallica, they damn near rocked the chandelier off the ceiling of the theater. Complete with the James Hetfield pre-pyro accident hair head banging to the thunderous Lars Ulrich back beat, Beatallica made me wonder what if Metallica actually messed around with Beatles songs in rehearsal. When it comes to tributes, Beatallica has taken the concept to a new level of clever execution.
Kevin Brandt Special to
Kevin "KB" Brandt has been bringing Milwaukee radio listeners their morning sports for years. His "Sports With Intrigue" entertains, educates and challenges listeners to figure out which parts of his sportscasts he bothered looking up and which he guessed at.

In his spare time, KB buys vests, adds to his Bruce Springsteen Shrine and plays with his band, kb'smidlifecrisis (available for church festivals, bar mitzvahs and to fill opening slots for national acts.)