To Kiss or Not to Kiss

Current mood

Current mood

As some of y’all may have noticed, the popular rock and roll band Kiss will be touring soon. They’re billing their upcoming jaunt as a farewell tour. There is a roughly zero percent chance of that being true. I cannot imagine Gene Simmons, of all people, turning down massive amounts of cold hard cash for the sake of living up to his word and not misleading fans. He’s not exactly an honor-driven individual. He’s more like a leathery human garbage monster man. 

Yet the “farewell tour” ruse, transparent and unconvincing as it might be, has me once again thinking about whether I should buy tickets to go see Kiss live. There are many reasons for me not to buy Kiss tickets. For starters, I don’t particularly enjoy the music of Kiss. I think they’ve got some great songs but I don’t exactly choose to listen to their music ever. Also, Gene Simmons was easily the most obnoxious person I’ve ever interviewed, and that includes Will.I.Am and James Toback. The idea of putting money in his pocket is not terribly appealing. 

Yet there’s no denying that I have an intense love-hate relationship with the band. They’re obviously a huge, if unacknowledged influence on Insane Clown Posse, who they’ve feuded with publicly and been dissed by in song. I’ve listened to Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss’ solo albums for My World of Flops. I’ve read Simmons, Frehley and Criss’ memoirs, along with memoirs by executives involved with the band and a crude tell-all by a hanger-on for Silly Little Show-Biz Book Club. I’ve seen no less than three Kiss movies: Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park, Detroit Rock City and Kiss Meets Scooby Doo. 


I am awfully invested in a band I do not like. I guess I’m fascinated by Kiss as a theatrical spectacle and a vulgar, bad-taste pop culture institution and sociological phenomenon, even as there is a whole lot to keep me from ever becoming an actual fan.

Kiss is, after all, a band that called its last trip around North America the Freedom to Rock tour and integrated both the Pledge of Allegiance and National Anthem into their live show in protest of Colin Kaepernick, because nothing screams ROCK quite like instituting mandatory expressions of loyalty and submission before the government, particularly the military, into your performances. 

They’re notoriously greedy and mercenary, chasing dollars in ways that make Krusty the Clown look like Ian MacKaye by comparison. 


Yet I am deeply tempted to go see them all the same. I’m fascinated by Kiss as tacky, essential Americana. In the decade plus that I’ve been writing about Kiss I’ve seemingly explored them from every angle but the one that really counts, that expresses their true cultural value, which is obviously from the crowd at a Kiss concert, surrounded by old-ass motherfuckers having the time of their lives and wonderfully mindless spectacle involving pyrotechnics and smoke and fire and fake blood and everything else that makes each show an event. 

Or maybe I’d go to a Kiss show and be left completely cold. I’d look around and see a bunch of Trump-voting, Gene Simmons-worshipping yahoos and feel painfully alone and out of place. 


I suppose that there’s only one real way to know for sure and that is by going to a Kiss concert and then writing about it for this here site. Let me know if you’d be interested in that because, honestly, as cheesy and deplorable as Kiss might be, going to one of their shows has always been one of the tackiest items on my old bucket list and since this is their farewell tour, I may only have six or seven more chances to see them live before they actually call it quits. 

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