June 24, 2011
Fans don makeup and air guitar along with iconic band.

By Jackson Holtz, Herald Writer

With huge flames shooting up from stage, the iconic heavy-metal band KISS opened its Thursday night concert.

The crowd at Comcast Arena Everett roared with approval.

"We don't have to go to Seattle to rock out," said Paul Stanley, the rhythm guitarist.

Bassist Gene Simmons delighted the audience with his thundering bass and long, red tongue.

At the end of "Firehouse," Simmons spit fire from the stage, his signature move for nearly 40 years.

The crowd ate it up, and many fans played air guitar along with Stanley and Tommy Thayer. Some people played air drums in time with Eric Singer.

KISS played the guitar-heavy songs from their first album through to their latest, "Sonic Boom," the 2009 album that has inspired new life in the act.

The band wore its trademark outfits: platform shoes, black, silver-studded skin-tight outfits and, of course, painted faces.

Throughout the show, pyrotechnics lit the stage, smoke billowed out and the heat of the flames could be felt rows from the front.

Several fans painted their faces to match the comic-booklike characters on stage.

"It's Halloween in the middle of the summer," Michelle Russell, 40, said.

She came to the show with her best friend since grade school, Stephanie Walker, wearing matching vintage KISS T-shirts and faces like Stanley and Thayer.

"I just want to rock it," said Walker, also 40.

Rich Frien brought his daughters, Melissa, 10, and Fiona, 12, from Anacortes.

The girls, both metal heads, wore big black wigs and carefully painted faces.

"KISS is a family thing," he said.

Brian Thiel of Auburn first saw KISS in 1979, and hasn't stopped worshiping the band.

"As long as the band keeps playing, I want to keep seeing them," he said.

The Spandex and spikes of his outfit, a replica of Simmons' "Alive" costume from 1975, took him three weeks to put together.

Other fans posed for photos, as he towered high on platform shoes.

"It's an experience," Thiel said. "I can't really describe it in words."

Thursday night's show was the first rock concert for 11-year-old Bryce Carabello of Everett.

He came to the arena with his face painted like the characters in the band.

"They're great," he said. "And, they're really fun to watch."