AND TELL: MINNESOTA STATE FAIR
September 11, 2010
By Joel Adrian

Photo by Steve Christensen

What did you do last weekend? Party? Video games? Homework? Nothing? These are the common choices that plague the average college student every weekend—at least that's what it seems to me. If I could just recollect my thoughts and feelings of this weekend onto this article, then I would simply type until my 20-year-old hands develop rheumatoid arthritis. In summation, here's my recap and evaluation on the recent KISS concert. I'm writing to maybe guide my few readers (hey you're one) that there is more to college than the same parties and bores of late night gaming.

I bought two tickets to KISS at the moment I found out they would make an appearance at the Minnesota State Fair Grandstand. I basically leapt from my chair and face planted the computer with anxiety and uncontrollable energy. I've already attended a KISS concert last November (ALIVE 35 tour) which was held at the Target Center in Minneapolis. I fell in love with the group and deemed it necessary to attend the outdoor show in hopes of seeing the stage explode once more. Originally, I bought two tickets with the intention of asking someone (a date) believing that this plan was foolproof. However, I realized that my house is five hours away from campus, and I didn't feel like being shot down in the first week of school. Ultimately, my heart got in the way, as I knew my brother is a bigger fan than I. It was a pretty easy choice once I slowed down and recollected my brain into my skull. Seeing how he is leaving for the Marines next month, I thought this was the right decision to bring him with and spend some valuable time before his departure.

He was the right choice. Upon entering the fair and joining the teeming masses of pedestrians and hov-a-rounds, we slowly entered our way to the Grandstand. The outdoor venue was perfect temperature wise, as I was in jeans and my KISS shirt. You might see me walking around campus with my shirt; I think I'm the only one with such a garment.

After waiting in the mob of consumers and countless butt grazes, my brother and I finally got our new KISS shirts. Unfortunately we missed The Envy (opening band) but made it back to our seats for the main show. The pair of seats were only $120 and were well justified after the show was over.

The curtain dropped and the stage was filled with sparks, fog machines and lasers while Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, and Tommy Thayer were hoisted over drummer Eric Singer making a stupendous entrance and breaking right into their single "Modern Day Delilah" off their new album Sonic Boom. As the music progressed, they played old songs that seemed new once again like "Cold Gin, 100,000 Years, Firehouse and Deuce." KISS played for about two hours until their show apparently ended. During that time, I was dumbfounded by Thayer's guitar shooting rockets, Singer shooting a bazooka at the crowd and, my favorite, Gene Simmons' solo and blood curdling act. If you've never seen it before, go to YouTube, type in KISS MN state fair and click on the Gene Simmons solo. Oh yeah, crank the volume as loud as you can. This won't even come close to the raw power that was coursing through my body that night.

The act of Gene Simmons spitting blood and flying while destroying his solo made me realize that this band plays for the fans enjoyment rather than money. If they only played for money, than they would have stopped in the late 70's. I was humbled that they didn't use back up dancers, or any unnecessary props (yes the explosions were necessary) that didn't fit into their style of music. I realized this isn't my first show, but it was much more apparent that KISS isn't just a band; it's a global phenomenon that might stop only to the level of deity. However, I think Eric Singer achieved this status by stealing the show with his rendition of "Beth." I still find Peter Criss' version more appealing, but I was happy they went after it. That was the first time, other than movies, where I've seen the stadium filled with real lighters and arms around each other singing in unison.

Be it the raspy, rugged raw vocals of Paul Stanley, or Tommy Thayer shredding his guitar behind his head, the in-your-face hard rock music still finds a way into the hearts of generations of young and old. I was surprised but not shocked to see toddlers with earplugs screaming for more explosions and carnage caused by the band and the elderly grasping for the oxygen tanks as the stage burst into flames.

At first the band left the stage claiming that the show was over. This act revealed the KISS virgins as they all made for the door without realizing what was about to happen. The band didn't even play their best songs yet until the encore. My brother and I took a trip to "Detroit Rock City," made a visit to 'Dr. Love" and shot a "Love Gun" before the encore was completed. Unfortunately for my brother, I, and the other thousands of fans, the show was came to end once the band played "Rock And Roll All Nite." This was the greatest bit of eye candy the entire night. As Simmons and Thayer and Eric Singer with his Drums were hoisted up two stories on hydraulic jacks, a shower of sparks graced the band like metal being grinded for the entire song. Strobe lights flickered as I was having a seizure over the pandemonium and intensity caused by the song and confetti that resembled snow was pushed through industrial blowers. The final note triggered a 10 minute firework display that destroyed any Fourth of July show. I'm sure the MSP airport had to divert airplane traffic in order to allow the light show.

I'm absolutely sure I forgot aspects of this concert, but hey, you should have been there. I enjoyed the band and not back up dancers or taped recordings played by artists during live shows nowadays. I think KISS is solely meant for the music, and their message is simple. As an audience, we don't have to accept crap and we don't have to accept less. I wish some people would realize that.