Saturday, August 10, 2013

KISS Looks To Turn Amphitheater Into Simpsonville Rock City | By Dan Armonaitis

When KISS rose to fame in the 1970s, there was an air of danger that hovered around the now-iconic band.

Decked out in superhero-like makeup and costumes while delivering anthems that exhorted the pleasures of sex and rock 'n' roll, KISS represented a threat to traditional values. So much so that organized protests were often held by groups of concerned parents and community leaders who claimed that KISS was an acronym for “Knights in Satan's Service” or some other deviant slogan.

How the times have changed.

In the new millennium, KISS is typically viewed as a part of the mainstream fabric, an institution safe enough for consumption at the closing ceremonies of the 2002 Winter Olympics and as animated characters in a kid-friendly “Scooby Doo” television special.

KISS will bring its explosive, pyrotechnic-filled show to the Charter Amphitheatre in Simpsonville on Tuesday, and the only backlash is likely to come from those who quietly sneer at the group more for its over-the-top merchandising empire (KISS coffin, anyone?) than for anything resembling rock 'n' roll debauchery.

One of the things that makes KISS a safe entertainment option in the modern world is that most concertgoers know precisely what's in store. Improvisation or spontaneity just isn't going to happen at a KISS show.

People go to KISS concerts to have a fun experience, and the band gladly fulfills that desire by performing a predictable mix of decades-old classics smattered with a few lesser-known contemporary songs.

For all of its gimmicks, the band has consistently given its rabid fan base, known as the KISS Army, exactly what it wants. In concert, that means longtime crowd favorites such as “Detroit Rock City,” “God of Thunder” and “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

And there's something to be said for the work ethic of founding members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley who, along with former band mates Peter Criss and Ace Frehley, started KISS in 1973.

In a news release for KISS' 2012 album, “Monster,” Stanley said, “In many ways, this band started as a fantasy and evolved into a flesh-and-blood entity. The fact is, we're not cartoon characters. We're real people who have spent 40 years doing what we believe in. The makeup of those personas is part of what we are, but underneath, we're human beings.”

Along with Simmons on bass and Stanley on guitar, the current KISS lineup includes drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer.

During its four-decade existence, KISS has racked up 28 U.S. gold albums while boosting worldwide album sales in excess of 100 million copies.

Still, despite its enormous influence on countless music acts ranging from Nirvana to Garth Brooks, KISS has been repeatedly snubbed for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“We're a band at this point in our career where we can live up to our own legend,” Stanley said in the news release. “Legends can be confining because they're cloaked in myth. I've always maintained that obstacles are what you see when you lose sight of your goals. If you know where you're going, you don't see what's in your way.

“KISS has always been about attaining whatever we think is possible. It's about celebrating life and going against the odds for what you believe in. As corny as that may sound, it got me where I am, and the naysayers will have to live where they are.”