KISS plays tonight at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, but I wouldn't attend a KISS concert if it were in my living room. Here's why.
1. The Music
Kiss has never been known for producing anything but the most simplistic hard rock. On stage, the band struggles to recreate these brain-dead tunes. It's well documented that Kiss' 1975 breakthrough concert album Alive! had to be severely overdubbed in the studio before release. And then there are the lyrics -- misogynistic, humorless and moronic.
How does any grown man with a shred of dignity stand on stage and sing junior high clunkers like "Christine Sixteen," "Love Gun" and "Lick it Up." The latter, incidentally, features a most laughably objectifying video that shows the band sans makeup (watch clip below). Now you see why Simmons wanted the group covered in face paint -- at all times, forever. The teetotaler, former schoolteacher is about as handsome as a geriatric orangutan. Had it not been for Kiss, the unbelievably arrogant Simmons, born Chaim Witz, would have continued life as one of the ugliest, un-coolest dudes to ever drag his knuckles across the planet.
2. The Makeup
Rock 'n' roll, at its most rewarding, is a means of self-expression on par with any of the more traditional art forms. At its worst, it's a sorry excuse for grown men to dress up like combatant, sex-starved cartoon characters with laughable handles like The Starchild, The Demon, The Spaceman, The Catman, The Fox, and, my personal fave, The Ankh Warrior.
Here's Kiss, in makeup at a press conference, sounding like idiots. Paul Stanley comparing his band to herpes. Simmons wags his tongue and complains about fans stealing his music, because, y'know, he needs the money. Interestingly, Simmons once again explains at great length how proud he is of Kiss, which make you wonder if deep down he isn't ultimately ashamed of his legacy: creating a body of often mean-spirited work that can only be truly appreciated by teenage boys -- and those with a similar mindset.
3. Stage Show
Only a band of minimally skilled clowns needs an arsenal of pyrotechnics, gallons of fake blood, smoking guitars and other assorted silliness to properly rock its audience. Here's Simmons thrusting his guitar like it's the ultimate phallic symbol, spitting blood and using his serpent like tongue to fondle his fingers in front of a crowd that appears to be all dudes. Sexy!
The worst power ballad -- ever! This song makes me want to shoot whatever speaker from which it emanates. The cloying chords and string-laden production are nauseating enough but have you ever listened to the lyrics? "It actually makes more sense about a dog than a woman," rightfully notes one commenter on this YouTube video.
5. Solo Albums of 1978
Only a band with Kiss' outsized egos would have pulled such a stunt. After millions of dollars spent on promotion, each member released a solo record on the same day, September 18, 1978. All four albums bricked -- big time. Here's Simmons, from his self-titled disaster, covering the Disney classic "When You Wish Upon A Star." Hideous.
6. 2000 "Not really a Farewell" Tour
Granted, many bands are guilty of this gimmick -- yeah, I'm talking to you Pete Townshend -- but leave it to Simmons to return from retirement less than a year after telling Kiss Army that 2000-2002 would be the absolute last chance to see their beloved band perform. The big reason for returning to the road? Open dates for Aerosmith. Pitiful. At least Frehley fulfilled his promise and passed on a chance for another fat payday. Here's Kiss doing a typically shoddy rendition of the sophomoric "Shock Me" on the "Farewell" Tour.
7. Gene Simmons is an asshole -- just ask Terry Gross
In 2002, Simmons goes on NPR's Fresh Air with highly talented female host Terry Gross to plug his autobiography Kiss and Make-Up. He makes a complete fool of himself and is disgustingly cruel to the jovial, yet assertive, Gross, who does her best to keep the interview civil.
Even Simmons, who, among other awful gaffes, makes an ugly pass at the host, realizes he'd humiliated himself. Simmons refuses to let NPR make the interview available online. Thanks to YouTube, though, we can hear a super-defensive Simmons declare, "money is the single most important thing on the planet."
8. Firing Criss in 2004
Simmons and Stanley fire Peter Criss (the drummer responsible for penning/singing "Beth") and have replacement player wear his famed Catman makeup. Another classy move, guys. Criss, sounding mildly retarded, discusses being canned.
9. The Merchandise
From condoms to coffins, Kiss has put its Nazi SS-looking logo on just about every commodity known to the industrialized world. Fittingly, considering the age of the musicians, Kiss Army members can now purchase the Kiss Bingo game. Price? $29.99.
10. American Idol
Any rock band that performs on Simon Fuller's shitty talent show automatically loses any and all credibility. I think even Kiss fans understand this one.