Pop culture: Recapping KISS concert -- and the band's history in Tulsa


Photo by Tom Gilbert /Tulsa World

The rock band KISS headlined Madison Square Garden in New York City for the first time on Feb. 18, 1977.

Almost exactly 40 years later — what’s a day or four? — KISS rocked The Joint at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

KISS has played Tulsa many times, even after a yahoo in the crowd did something goofy (details later) during a show in the 1970s, but their Wednesday night gig at the Hard Rock was their first concert in the 918 since Oklahoma assumed joint custody of Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley on Jan. 13.

That’s the day Simmons and Stanley visited the state to announce they were partnering with the Kaw Nation for a Rock & Brews Casino Resort in Braman, Okla. The idea, like a KISS stage show, is go big or go home. The planned resort will boast a 250-room hotel with a spa and fitness center, a 77,528-square-foot casino, a bingo hall, a conference center, four “luxury” retail stores, a travel plaza/truck stop and a 1,500-seat events center.

One week after the casino press conference came an announcement that KISS would perform Feb. 22 at The Joint. Even if you’ve seen KISS a dozen times before, the combination of this band in this venue seemed intriguing: How will KISS’ blood-spitting, fire-breathing, high wire act of an arena rock show translate to a more intimate setting? The Joint is a 2,700-seat facility.

Early in a 95-minute set, Stanley said it’s not every day that the bad gets to play somewhere where everybody is so close.
“This is awesome,” he said.

Stanley and his KISS-mates — Simmons, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer — played The Joint for the first time, according to a casino spokesperson. They brought just about all the KISS staples with them — the pyrotechnics, the booms, the bursts of flame, a venue-wide Pledge of Allegiance (the band is a big supporter of the military) and of course the anthems their fans know by heart. God bless the folks who had to clean up all the confetti sprayed into the air during the set-closer, “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

“What a cool way to spend a Wednesday night,” Stanley said after the first two songs, reminding attendees that the band he co-founded with Simmons is in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

“The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame hates KISS, but they had to listen to you,” he said, referring to the band’s fans. “Tulsa, thank you for making it happen.”

Speaking of Tulsa, let’s make this not just a recap of a KISS concert, but a review of the band’s shared history with Tulsa.

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