Review: KISS Choctaw Casino Grand Theater, Durant, OK
By Scott Row / Music Taster's Choice
Mark one off the bucket list. Yes, ladies and gentlemen, I not only got to witness the "Hottest Band in the World", but I also got to cover and shoot their show. Not like that's not uncommon if you're a follower of KISS, but for me, it's a pretty big deal. I was raised on the foursome, thanks in large part to my three uncles, one of which was 'Gene Simmons' in a KISS tribute band. So to say that KISS is a big part of my music background would be a huge understatement. I knew the last time they came through Dallas was in 2014, so I started to Google for any tour announcements and found none. But lo and behold, I did stumble across a single date for Durant, OK at the Choctaw Casino Grand Theater, currently their only headlining (non-festival) date for 2016. An hour and some change north of the DFW area, I knew I had to go.
Let me make something clear, before we move forward. I have seen KISS four previous times, three times in the greater DFW area, including their 1996 Reunion Tour at Reunion Arena (on my 14th birthday) and once in Oklahoma City. So, I have some knowledge of their magnanimous onstage theatrics and flair. But each show is different and has its own feel. Durant was no different. Playing at a much more intimate location (3,000 capacity) than my previous shows, I knew this one would be special in its own way. While the stage was missing parts from last years tour setup, the production still included more pyrotechnics and flash than most modern stadium tours would dare to try. In short, KISS was still KISS, more than 40 years after they started.
Once the hum fills the arena and the emcee screams "Hello Choctaw...you wanted the best, you got the best. The Hottest Band in the world...KISS!!!", you know the time has come. Escorted by a throng of smoke and flash pots, KISS jump into their timeless classic, "Detroit Rock City". To give credit where credit is due, original band members Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, both in their 60's, still have every ounce of bravado and stage presence as they did in their more youthful days. And while some KISS purists will snub the current lineup as a 'cover band', make no mistake, drummer Eric Singer and lead guitarist Tommy Thayer, are every part of KISS. Their musicianship and showmanship exceed every expectation as a member of KISS.
The first two songs were a blur, as I was shooting from the photo pit, but the well-oiled machine that is KISS put on one hell of a show. My favorite songs from the night were "Creatures of the Night", "God of Thunder", "Cold Gin", "Calling Dr. Love", and "I Was Made for Lovin' You". The solos from each member are also fun to watch. From Gene's blood-spitting to Tommy's firework-propelling guitar, the classic aspects of KISS are alive and well. And let us not forget "Rock and Roll All Nite", the show's closer. As the massive waves of confetti dropped onto the thousands in attendance, the excitement of the crowd went through the roof and everyone sang every word of the song. Always a beautiful sight. If you haven't seen KISS, just do yourself a favor and buy a ticket. Enjoy the show. It's a rock and roll rite of passage.