Article and Photos by Andrés Alvarado
Derby City was taken over by the legendary overlords of the ’70s New York glam-metal scene, KISS, one final time — at least we think. After spanning a nearly five-decades long career, these comic book rock icons are set to journey on their End Of The Road Tour; and it was time to bid adieu to Louisville with an endmost larger-than-life extravagant hurrah. The night was set for what would be a party of proportions too big to justly describe. A sold-out fan-base packed the site wall-to-wall, front-to-back and side-to-side, in an effort to catch these hard-rock champions just rock-n-roll all nite long — or at least until it was time to close down.
It was a nostalgic and bitter-sweet evening for everyone involved; as The Starchild, The Demon, Space Ace, and The Catman were in town to go all-out in a blaze of glory. Long story short, mission accomplished. Per usual, prior to showtime, a cavalcade of KISS cosplayers lined-up early to pose for pictures with other fans, and to simply enliven the wait. If you have never been to a KISS show, be aware that the fans makeup a good chunk of the early entertainment. They almost serve as an opening act to real thing.
Once the curtains drop, a spectacle unlike any other befalls the atmosphere. An impressive pyrotechnics display signals the boys of KISS are ready to party, ready to kick ass, ready to drop jaws and ready to melt faces. In grand fashion, the gang makes their initial appearance as they descend onto the stage amidst fireworks and light-shows while grounded on individual pods. Ladies and gentlemen, let the festivities begin. It is time to let loose and get wild.
The body of work that KISS sets forth on the live circuit is intensely elaborate and monumentally thrilling. The effects of a bottomless budget can be witnessed and felt throughout. From Gene “The Demon” Simmons spitting out blood and breathing fire, to Paul “The Starchild” Stanley’s ziplining from deck to deck while he performs classic “I Was Made For Loving You.” In equally eye-popping shticks, Tommy “Space Ace” Thayer delivers some badassery when he takes the time to blast sparks from his cream-colored Gibson; or Eric “The Catman” Singer‘s pedal-to-the-metal drum solo during anthem “100,000 Years.” Nonetheless, the night’s apotheosis came courtesy of banger “Rock and Roll All Nite,” which featured a mesmerizing strobes affair, tons of confetti, projectile flames, and 2 ceiling-hanging industrial-like platforms that carried both Simmons and Thayer to the nosebleed sections and back. Quite simply, rock-n-roll as it was meant to be seen and appreciated.
Fans will question whether this was really a send-off trek for these NYC performers. Who knows, in all honesty. While this crazy and wacky bunch play the parts of fictitious shock-rock virtuosos, the truth is their music is anything but fake and their pageantry is straight up aces. As the quartet is steadily heading into their golden years, the argument can be made, that despite their limitations, these boys can still jam and put their younger contemporaries to shame. KISS is insane, KISS is amazing, KISS is motherfuckin’ rock-n-roll.