Friday, November 28, 2008

90. Kiss - Dressed to Kill

1975. I was 12 years old. I heard Rock and Roll All Nite on the radio the same day I saw my first picture of KISS and nothing was the same after that. I was already listening to a lot of rock music but this. This was different. This was rock and theatrics. This terrified and disgusted my mother. Awesome!

Soon after, the band appeared on some late night rock show, either Don Kirshner or Wolfman Jack, one of those shows I wasn't really supposed to stay up for, but did anyhow. I was completely mesmerized. Rock and Roll All Nite was my anthem.

Soon, I had KISS posters on the wall. I joined the KISS army. It didn't matter that the rest of Dressed to Kill sucked. It didn't matter that these guys were not the best musicians in the world. I was suckered in by the decadence, by the stage presence, by the marketing genius that was KISS. This is why I don't make fun of Jonas Brothers fans. Because I know. I know how easily a young mind can swayed to follow group think in the matters of music and hot guys. What? Peter Criss was too hot, in a "aww let's feel sorry for the drummer" kind of way.

But there comes a time when you realize what you bought into. For me, that time was about a year later when I went to see KISS at the Nassau Coliseum. Just the year before, I had been swooning to David Cassidy in the same arena and I wanted to wash the experience of grown women throwing panties on stage out of my mind. I wanted to experience a real concert. Rock and Roll! Not those screaming women who acted like they would set themselves on fire for David Cassidy.

The house lights dimmed. The stage lights went up. Maybe there were some explosions and laser beams and whatnot. KISS took the stage. Oh Jesus, the screaming. The screaming! Not just the girls, but the guys, too. Girls were yelling out things they wanted to do with Gene Simmons’ tongue. . Bras on the stage. Panties on the stage. Girls swooning. Swooning! This was not what I expected at all. I was confused, lost, frightened. This was rock and roll, not David Cassidy. This was the real deal, the stuff I read about in Rolling Stone. Why aren’t you throwing beer bottles at each other and lighting fires and kicking chairs around? Why the HELL are you swooning? I had this all wrong.

No, KISS had it all wrong. I left the concert feeling dejected. I really think my disappointment in KISS and rock and roll that night is what set the stage for me to fall in love with punk rock soon after.

When my son was seven years old, he took a liking to KISS. It took him less than a year to come to the conclusion that they sucked. I was 16 before I figured that out. But I had fun along the way, I can't deny that.

Favorite song: Rock and Roll All Nite, for the sake of nostalgia


Jim said...

The only reason I don't make fun of KISS is because of my Uncle Ray. He was a founding member of the KISS Army. Uncle Ray had a heart attack and died when I was around 20 years old, he couldn't have been any older than me. He loved KISS.

I never got KISS. Ever.

For some reason I know every word to "Beth."


Arjun said...

I remember playing air guitar with tennis rackets to KISS, but to Destroyer, not to Dressed to Kill. KISS sucked but they were marketing genius. There's a line from KISS to the hair metal bands of the 90s for sure. But I hear you on Rock n Roll All Nite. Because it's the next lyric that makes the song great and makes KISS smart. It's not the "I want to rock n roll all night" - it's the "And party every day." Because it's impossible. You can not rock n roll ALL nite and then party EVERYDAY. You simply can not do it. That was the challenge of KISS. They were about the impossible. And that's why they got the panties.

Liam said...

I love KISS! Not for their marketing or the show, but for the balls-to-the-wall Rock 'n' Roll! Dressed To Kill was a great album, featuring some of my favourites, like Room Service, Rock Bottom, C'Mon and Love Me, Love Her All I Can and of course Rock 'n' Roll All Nite!