Beauty and the Beasts

KISS. At the Chumash Casino, Friday, July 28.

Reviewed by Brett Leigh Dicks

Gene-Simmons.jpgTowering in silver platform boots and sporting a black lycra bodysuit that strategically exposed a bare chest, Paul Stanley clasped the microphone stand and observed, “Sometimes the cheap seats suck, but not tonight.” Rather than inferring the conspicuous absence of cheap seats for the night’s performance, Stanley was instead presumably making reference to KISS’s usually intimate setting. For two nights, the musical veterans squeezed their lavish stadium antics into the “confines” of the Chumash Casino. While the ballroom setting afforded KISS fans a chance to get close and personal with their idols, it didn’t seem to affect the band’s trademark explosive theatrics.

As the stage erupted into a blazing alter-reality, Stanley stood center stage and bellowed out the lines “Get up / Everybody’s gonna move their feet / Get down / Everybody’s gonna leave their seat” from KISS’s anthem “Detroit City Rock.” Not that the KISS army needed any encouragement in rising to their feet, for fists were already punching the air, heads were shaking, and voices were screaming out each and every lyric in belligerent unison with Stanley. There’s nothing subtle about KISS.

Instruments became phallic symbols and songs were hammered from pounding rhythms and teased through a volume-laden sonic assault to their celebrated death. In something of a collision between ’70s glam and ’60s sci-fi, each of the members perfectly projected their distinctive personas. Adorned in their trademark pasty white makeup and black and silver costumes, the menacing Gene Simmons lurched and growled as he spat out fire, blood, and lyrics. As Stanley pranced and teased in seductive torment, both Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer were a picture of concentrated vigor.

Friday night’s performance was brash and bold and freely fed upon the energy and fervor that the audience generated. It was everything rock and roll should be. And it ended in spectacular fashion via the overstated dynamics of the band’s classic “Rock and Rock All Night.” Under a shower of sparks and riding an avalanche of ear-piercing guitar feedback, Stanley concluded the song by coyly swinging his guitar above his head. As confetti rained from the ceiling, Stanley begged the audience for their encouragement before he slammed his instrument into the Chumash stage. Here was a truly unapologetic serving of rock ’n’ roll, in all its outrageous glory.

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