July 07, 2011
BAYFEST: KISS opens Sarnia's music festival with a bang

In the photo: KISS frontman Paul Stanley playfully spits a guitar pick at photographers during the band's performance at Sarnia Bayfest 2011.

By TARA JEFFREY, The Observer
Photo by Shawn Jeffords / The Observer

The 'Gods of Thunder' didn't disappoint Wednesday with an explosive concert that wowed Sarnia Rock City and kicked off Bayfest just right.

Clad in their signature makeup and sparkling get-up, KISS members Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Tommy Thayer and Eric Singer proved they're as outrageous as ever, with thunderous pyrotechnics and an elaborate stage show that opened in a flurry of fireballs and explosions.

The band took the stage at 10 p.m. sharp, opening with hit singles Modern Day Delilah and Cold Gin.

"So remember I said, 'Can we come back and see ya, people? And you said yeah...'" shouted Stanley to a raucous crowd.

"We're baa-ack!"

The headline show opening Bayfest marked KISS's second Sarnia visit in three years.

"We definitely started off with a bang," said festival organizer Michele Stokley, scrambling backstage to keep the chaos in order. "It's been a long day — we started off at 5 a.m. just to be ready for KISS. It can get demanding with them, but you always know it's going to be an incredible show."

Stokley, who's been at the helm of the massive outdoor music festival for 13 years, said it's always the first show that's the most nerve-wracking.

"It's when you get all the kinks out," she said. "But you notice that, even after all these years, you still forget a couple of things."

The KISS Army — complete with elaborate make-up and costume — was in full force amid more than 15,000 at Centennial Park.

Even as the Gene Simmons' "Family Jewels" motorcoach rolled in, security and backstage workers stopped to snap pics on their cameras and cell phones.

When "The Demon" himself finally arrived, he was spotted shaking hands and mingling backstage.