LAST NIGHT: AT RODEOHOUSTON
March 16, 2011
KISS
Reliant Stadium
March 15, 2011

We'll drive you wild with our photos from last night's show.

In Tom Snyder's 1979 interview with the original members of KISS, only two of which remain, he asked bassist Gene Simmons, "What would happen if you went out on stage for a concert and you didn't set off the fireworks, didn't break the guitar, and didn't have the smoke, fire, and blood?"

Simmons responded astutely, "It would still be a rip-roaring rock and roll show because...we don't stand still when we play our instruments. We run around and pretty much raise hell."

Over 30 years later, Aftermath wanted to test that theory, since we were aware of some of the stage restrictions at Reliant Stadium. There was no blood and not as much fire as we expected, but there were plenty of pyrotechnics for the group to put on a decadently distinctive KISS show, playing 12 songs in their entirety in just an hour.

​We were hot with expectancy before the lights even went off. We delightedly watched those little mutton-busters get scared out of their minds as a rodeo clown with full KISS makeup hoisted them up after the inevitable sheep trampling.

Imagine being five years old, strapped to a running sheep in front of 70,000 people, and then busting your ass just to be saved by an old man dressed like Gene Simmons. That's traumatizing stuff, man.

When the lights went out and the initial fireworks were over, we watched a video of the members "getting ready" and "approaching the stage." The band rode out to the stage on golf carts and the customary introduction boomed through the stadium: "You wanted the best, you got the best: the hottest band in the world, KISS!!"

Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons, Eric Singer, and Tommy Thayer then opened with "Modern Day Delilah" from their 2009 release, Sonic Boom and then went back to 1976's Destroyer with "Shout It Out Loud." Commence the Simmons guitar-licking and tongue exhibit, Stanley pick-spitting, and drawn-out Thayer solos.

Stanley warmed the Houstonians up quickly, mentioning our long history together. "We go back a long way," he said. "You people are some of the finest people we've ever played for... we would not miss being here."

The group then revisited their own KISStory by playing "Deuce" from their 1974 self-titled debut. Stanley skipped around a bit and played his guitar under his legs while Thayer concurrently performed his own solo, which was splendid.

(Side note: We know there are many KISS purists out there, and to most, Thayer could never replace original lead guitarist Ace Frehley. He bit his style and even his makeup; but in truth, he's a great musician and complements Simmons and Stanley well.)

Stanley prepared the stadium for some mandatory KISS heat, foreshadowing,"You're not tired, are you, Houston? I got a feeling if everyone loosens up a bit we're going to get this place so hot we're going to have to call out the firehouse!"

The band then played KISS' "Firehouse" while Simmons lit a sword on fire, blew even more flames, and then stabbed the fiery weapon into the ground. During the instrumental break, Stanley came out onto the ramp and knelt down, seductively putting his guitar pick on his tongue and then spitting it out before finishing the song.

KISS continued to play their older classics like "Calling Dr. Love," "Love Gun," "Detroit Rock City" and "I Love It Loud," not venturing past 1982 album Creatures of the Night. Stanley prefaced each song with a cappella teasers of the hits that he knew would be easily identified by even the newest of fans, whom he beckoned to join in.

They slowed the momentum down for the ballad "Beth," from Destroyer, which was originally performed by founding drummer Peter Criss. We heard a few grumbles in the crowd from fans who may have resented the (relatively) newcomer for adopting the song.

The group picked the speed of the show back up with "Lick It Up." As can be assumed by the title, Simmons' tongue movements came with a lot of drool. Aftermath has watched his reality show for a while, so seeing this signature move in person was almost disturbing.

We now know him as a father and an entrepreneur; we've seen him cry, laugh, learn, love, and make a killing off KISS merchandise. Expect that drool to be on eBay right now.

Like their Woodlands performance last year, KISS took a break to honor two soldiers onstage. Stanley urged the crowd to stand up and recite the Pledge of Allegiance for the two men in uniform and the rest of the soldiers who were not in attendance. He added, "they won't hear it, but they'll hear about it."

A dollar from every ticket sold at the Rodeo went to the Wounded Warriors Care Project. After the pledge was over, Stanley spoke briefly about the American soldiers overseas and foreign relations to cleverly segue into their final song. You know the one: "Pray that we all get together...to rock and roll all nite and party every day!"

After the international rock and roll hymn was over, Stanley swung his guitar around for about two minutes, building anticipation for the break. He finally kissed it before breaking it as the last of the fireworks went off.

All in all, these dudes might have accumulated some strained voices, hip problems, and damaged hair since the '70s, but they are still rocking and acquiring new fans every year. We'll see them again.

After all, every time a member of KISS gets a wrinkle, they get 5,000 new fans.

Personal Bias: There was a significant amount of young children dressed as KISS members. We wish that we could see their reactions when they get to middle school and look back at pictures. Also questionable: Why weren't their parents donned in similar ensembles?

​Overheard In the Crowd: "I'm wearing my KISS shirt to jazzercise tomorrow." Also, when Stanley introduced "Detroit Rock City," he said, "Detroit is a city filled with good people." To which a concertgoer replied, "WHO ARE ALL LEAVING!"

Random Notebook Dump: On the way out the door, we saw two girls who appeared to be 13 or 14 with Demon and Starchild makeup on, singing "Rock and Roll All Nite." KISS is everlasting.