I finally got to live out one of my biggest fourth-grade fantasies.
No, not the one about racing a black Trans Am across the country like in “Smokey and the Bandit.”
And not the one about flying an X-wing like in “Star Wars.”
At last, I got to see KISS. And not only as a spectator, but as a photographer backstage and in the photo pit during the show.
The band was in town for a benefit concert at Raley Field, and I was there for work.
The biggest surprises?
First, Gene Simmons is a huge dude. When I ran into him backstage, he was in all his KISS gear. His tall boots, makeup, huge hair and spiked shoulder pads made him seem larger than life.
Second, the band can still really play.
Before the show, photographers took their places, and I staked out my spot right below the metal lip of the huge stage. I fiddled with my gear, and made sure my earplugs were in. (I’m too much of an old geezer to go to shows without them anymore.)
When the lights came up and the band strode on stage, there was Simmons right in front of me, wielding his axe and sticking his tongue out. It was catnip for photographers, and the crowd went insane.
I had the best seat in the house for three songs (that’s how long photogs got to stay in the pit).
It was a surreal experience, standing there taking photos of legends, all while a wall of sound shook my bones. I was grateful of have my earplugs, but I’m pretty sure the beat may have loosened a couple fillings.
I loved these guys to start with, but there’s nothing like seeing them up close. They’re masters of putting on a great show.
Earlier this month, I took photos from the stage of the Nelly and Flo Rida show on Capitol Mall. It was fun, but the whole production was pretty basic.
KISS, on the other hand, is an experience that rocks you to the core. The costumes. The guitars that shoot fireworks. The pyrotechnics behind the stage. Every rock ‘n’ roll element is there, and nothing beats it.
The guys of KISS might be getting older, but they just don’t make bands like this anymore.