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Kissmas Bash '16: a predictable good time

It's beginning to look a lot like Kissmas.

Back again for another holiday cheer session last night was Kiss 98.5's annual Kissmas Bash concert, bringing the kids' latest loves du jour to their hometown stage.

Let's be real for a moment: this is a moderately painful experience for adults, and a life-affirming revelation for kids. To see your crushes in person is a real and relevant experience, and should be celebrated. To accompany your children to a deafening vortex of screaming hormones is ridiculous, and should be outlawed. Moving on.

This is first and foremost a concert. We should focus on that. Let's listen to the music.

[Photos: The Chainsmokers, Daya, Jake Miller and more at Kissmas Bash]

Jake Miller mimed his way through one unimpressive pop-rock track after another, with plenty of charm. Backed by a drummer and bassist, Miller relied heavily on a backing track of instrumentation and vocals. Why even show up. Even with this handicap, Miller came off muted and unimpressive.

I'll blame some of this on the production's weak sound mix, which made most acts sound as if they were in the next room. They could have turned it way up, I might regret saying.

Joe Jonas's DNCE—pronounced letter by letter—came to the stage with much fanfare. Their rock-infused dance material sounds like a modern Maroon 5—kids, ask your parents—with enough funk to carry a palatable groove. It's not awful, but you know, I think people want more than that.

Again with the production quality, unless you were located within a couple dozen rows of the stage, amplification did them no service.

As a known entity, Jonas has some brand equity as one of the three former Jonas Brothers, the wholesome brother act that disbanded a few years ago. But his new group is severely disjointed. He stood removed from the rest of his group as if embarrassed by the association. His rhythm section's wild antics distracted from whatever smooth, cool spotlight Jonas was trying to stand in.

Pittsburgh native Daya, 18, gave a unique set of promising original tunes. Her passionate voice has some unnecessary affectation, but it's quite live, as was her piano playing. A speech about being her "most authentic self" was overkill.

Other acts, Jojo and Jacob Whitesides, brought more of the same.

It was headliners The Chainsmokers that owned the night. The EDM duo plays large stadiums and fairgrounds around the world with their remixes, popular samples, choreographed lights and jumpy energy. Their inclusion was inspired, dwarfing every one of their opening acts with precision and presence. This was on another level.

[Related: 'Tis the season for a merry Kissmas Bash]

Perhaps Kiss should reconsider their format for future editions. This year's show lost momentum with every interlude, which in past years were kept busy with satellite stages and onstage antics. Things felt under-programmed and under-rehearsed this time.

As for their lineup, some discredit the headliner's electronic dance music as not being real music. But it did everything that music in a packed arena should, and what none of the other acts could. Give the kids what they want and let's get on with the show.

And then let's please go home.


Kissmas Bash 2016

Thursday night in KeyBank Center

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