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


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