October 08, 2009
Will McGuirk
Photo by Laura Stanley

Halloween came early to Oshawa this year, 35 years in the making.

Dressed as a mashup of Transformers meets Josie and The Pussycats, KISS transformed the ice shed of the General Motors Centre into a full-on rock 'n' roll bonanza Wednesday night. The concert that was, then wasn't, then was, is now done. Mel Lastman once called in the army to help his city. Our civic fathers and mothers went one further, calling in the KISS Army to help what Macleans magazine called a sad and desperate city.

Well, we know better. Oshawa is not down. It's not out. It's merely resting its eyes, waiting for the right reason to get up and get its party on. KISS provided the reason. Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley and the two new guys are custom-made for this town, SHWA Rock City Baby. Get up out of your rocking chair grandma, KISS is in the house.

Downtown was filled with men dressed as ladies dressed as men dressed as animals for the glittering glam-rock spectacle. The lineup to get in stretched around the back of the Bell building.

If you like the silver codpiece of a 60-year-old man dressed as a Samurai from the 7th circle of Hell, dangling in your face (and clearly you do Oshawa) then this was the ear-bursting, eye-burning rock extravaganza for you. A wall of screens, and a jumbotron stretched across the full width of the Centre and then some. Fireworks, confetti cannons, flames and interplanetary juggernaut rock riffage, a drum solo of strobe light intensity from Eric Singer, a guitar solo that shot explosions from its head by Tommy Thayer, plus a hit list of '70s classic rock was what you got for your ticket, was what you got for winning the contest, for being No. 1, Oshawa.

KISS is a band of individuals and each one got his spotlight. Apart from the new kids on the rock solos, we got Demon Gene Simmons in the rafters, like a manic cross between a pterodactyl and Marcel Marceau, and the pursed lips and butt-clenching strut of Starchild Paul Stanley, who rode a half unicyle/half weed-whacker high above the audience to a waiting platform at the back of the ice.

Now that, baby, is what you call rock 'n' roll. That's debauchery, that's excess, that's not giving a rodent's rear end about anything. This was Theatre of The Crotch, this was everything your mother warned you about and secretly yearned for. I saw no KISS Army recruiters, but if I had I'd have signed up on the spot and marched away from it all with them. That was SHWA-some!