July 16, 2009
By Zev Singer

Six-year-old Mackenzie Durocher, her face painted perfectly like KISS's Paul Stanley, sits on her father's lap before the show. Well-drilled for years by now, she can name several KISS songs. At home, she likes to pretend to smash a guitar to the band's music. Her other favourite act is SpongeBob SquarePants.
This is life in the KISS Army, where kids are drafted into service barely out of the womb.

Mackenzie's father, Patrick Durocher, 36, beams at his daughter as she sticks her tongue out ferociously like Gene Simmons.

This is his seventh KISS concert, but her first.

"Once you go, you're hooked for life," he says, explaining, as most of the KISS soldiers do, that the show is simply like no other.

Bob Nicholson passes the same type of heritage to his children. Nicholson, 42, is dressed in one of the most eye-catching Gene Simmons demon outfits at the show. Mobbed by fellow fans begging to take a picture with him, the Carleton Place chef has his four kids in tow, two girls and two boys, ages 11 to 17, all with painted faces.

They’ve been brought up on KISS, with a room in the house dedicated to the band. Every Halloween, their father dresses up in his costume. Karissa, 17, and at her first KISS concert, says it’s a bit strange to see all the other people who have the same hobby as their dad.

For some people in the crowd, KISS goes a bit beyond being just a hobby.

Marc Theriault, 50, wears a Paul Stanley costume that is no amateur piece of work. The boots alone cost him more than $3,000. This show is his 13th over the years.

“It started out with some shoe polish in 1977 on the Love Gun tour. From there it evolved.”

Theriault says that despite the facepaint and on-stage stunts, he actually finds in KISS something very real. Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons, the only two original members from 1972, don’t smoke or drink, he says, and he has a great respect for that.

He even says that sometimes, when he’s out on a call as a vacuum salesman, he gets into the zone by thinking about the way Paul Stanley communicates with an audience. Other people might find it funny, he says, but he feels great about what the band has meant to him over the years.

Meanwhile, KISS, a band that has claimed to be the loudest in the world, did not cause the bylaw noise complaint nightmare that had been feared. Long-known for their volume, KISS said this before their 1983 show at the Civic Centre: “We’re going to come into Ottawa and we’re going to melt your faces off.”

In a 1977 concert review in the Citizen, writer Bill Provick talked about leaving the concert with an “80-percent hearing loss.

But bylaw officers, stationed both at the venue and roving in nearby neighbourhoods to measure the decibels outside of people’s homes, said there were no noise complaints after the band took stage, at least not in the first half-hour.

Scott Campbell, the bylaw manager in charge of noise complaints, said that even at the stage, where Bluesfest has imposed a 90 dB ceiling, KISS went only slightly over at 92 dB.

Whatever the volume, KISS fans were just happy to be there