When world-beating, visionary musicians have already risen to the pinnacle of fame before dying on the altar of rock so many times over, you know you’ll never be better than them and KISS knew that too. So they didn’t try to be better, they tried to be more.
KISS is a full blown religion. Rock n Roll is god, and the band is the prophet. The albums are the scripture. The KISS logo is the icon. Detroit is the birthplace/holy city. The ‘KISS Army’ are the faithful. The arenas were the churches and the festivals were the cathedrals. KISS is even capitalized! The population of active worshippers is ageing and dwindling however. The reams of tacky merchandise are the artifacts that will be left behind long after KISS are gone. And there was a heyday, a zenith, and that has now past.
KISS has never really been about the music, many bands out there are much better songwriters. KISS the band is always secondary to KISS the concept. The music is a means to an end. Kiss is about the experience, about being swept up in that communal experience. It’s style over substance, the imagery, drama, theatrics, and showmanship of rock multiplied by a thousand, as performers they are beyond reproach. KISS isn’t strictly rock n roll but an adolescent fantasy of rock n roll made flesh.
An old, romantic fantasy though. No one growing up today could believe in KISS the same way someone growing up in the 70s could believe in KISS. We can attend KISS, we can revel in the spectacle, and lose ourselves for one night in their rock n roll myth but it isn’t quite the same. KISS were a cultural phenomenon, a full blown movement. In 30 years when KISS are dead and all of the original members of the KISS Army are dead, if someone randomly picked up Hotter Than Hell knowing nothing about it and listened to it they would completely miss the point. Their genius lay elsewhere.
KISS deserve tremendous respect for all of this, for creating this. This is why the fact that you can purchase a Limited Edition Merry Kissmas Gene Simmons Decorative Ornament, while distasteful, is ultimately irrelevant. What four normal guys in a normal rock band managed to become is singular.
What oh the actual concert? Of course it was incredible, but it was never going to be anything less.
Here’s some photos:
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