A Tale of Two Shows

In cultureShock, Entertainment by Erich Cella

As a long time progressive rock, grunge rock and alternative rock junkie it was difficult for me to get overly excited about a band that is all about having a good time and wearing makeup, but Kiss’s stage show opened my eyes in a way most concerts never have. I preface this by emphasizing that I am not a “KISS” fan, so I may have some bias towards the group.

First off it’s very difficult to take a band seriously when they’re wearing platform leather boots and clown makeup. However, their reputation to inspire the audience helped me keep an open mind. They also have the tendency play to the same generic riffs repeatedly throughout every song making it difficult to differentiate between the beginning and end of each track.

They are not the most talented group in the world and they showed it. Particularly, as they showcased chauvinistic testosterone filled lyrics, and often did not give the audience enough of a break between the constant thrashing to gather their collective minds to digest what they just experienced.

Despite their obvious weaknesses, their apparent strengths were also obvious, and the minions of the Kiss army eat it right up. This phenomenon can be attributed to an audience just going out and having a great time with no strings attached so they can forget their tedious work weeks. No one’s looking for deep meaning or psychological closure when they attend a “KISS” show.

It must be working as, I who am not one to partake in this American fascination or phenomenon was utterly blown away by their on stage antics and ability to massacre your ear drums until all you hear is a loud ringing. With fireworks blazing into the atmosphere and sparks flying you would have thought you were at a fourth of July celebration or a Ringling Brothers Circus, but ironically that is a positive.

“KISS” did play a few songs that included rock classics, “She,” “Detroit Rock City,” “War Machine” and, of course “Rock and Roll All Nite.” I appreciate the fact that they stuck to the hits most of the night, so newcomers to the craze could experience the best they have to offer and would be able to sing along with the audience.

From Gene Simmons spewing out gallons of blood all over himself and being lifted high above the stage by wires to Paul Stanley working the crowd by favoring the New Jersey enthusiasm to the lack of intensity at the beach, it was an overall memorable experience.

Video montages showing past rock icons and past exploits of “KISS” were in full force adding to the whole aura that surrounds these veterans. I encourage you to see a “KISS” show no matter your musical tastes or lack of interest for party rock and roll are. No matter what, it is the greatest show on earth.

Oddly, the show I was anticipating most was a major let down from the previous night’s spectacle. “Evanescence” seemed to ignore the fact that putting on an impressive stage show can uplift a group of people and can enhance a reputation to legendary status.

They seemed as if they were going through the motions or maybe they are all about the art but one thing is apparent, it was just plain boring!

They arrived on stage played their hits, played a few ballads, addressed the crowd, came out for an encore and, it was a goodbye and a good to see you. A few weeks from now I don’t know if it will even register in my mind other than that it was a major letdown compared to the “KISS” show.

The band was tight and Amy Lee showed her vocal prowess with her angelic voice and operatic quality but she never really warmed up to the fans acting as if it was a studio session. It was almost like a one woman show as her replaceable parts did little to showcase themselves.

She may have spoken to the crowd twice letting them know they are in New York and stayed in basically a fifteen foot radius on stage showing a cold shoulder. I may be reading too much into it but it was a definite lack of intensity during the set.

Appetizers like “Seether” and “Three Days Grace” provided the power beforehand but didn’t strike me as rock pioneers ripping off “Puddle Of Mudd” and “God smack”‘s overindulgent slow rhythmically challenged brand of forgettable lackluster music. This is coming from an alternative rock fan that favors substance over style and music with heart or some sort of intelligence, but style won the war this time.

These two beautiful nights at Jones Beach showed two sides of the spectrum as one night provided ripe entertainment and unabashed persistence that made you feel as if you were apart of something, while the next night you felt totally disconnected.

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