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My First KISS: A Concert Memoir

My First KISS: A Concert Memoir

Stars aligned last Sunday night for us KQRS gals at the KISS and Def Leppard concert. The people we met and the experiences we’ll never forget made this concert one of the special ones. I know I may say that often, but it’s only because the kind of electric energy live rock and roll music zaps me with is all I know. Rockin’ to KISS alongside some of the craziest concert fans I’ve come across yet was an amazing feeling and left me hungry for more!

My friend Ashleigh and I were the promotions team for night, and we started what would soon become the greatest concert of our lives with a KQRS pre party! The greatest people, old friends and new, joined us at The Pourhouse downtown for a fun time before the show. Longtime KQ “groupies” Jim and Marguerite kindly vamped us into character by painting our faces as Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, thus inspiring even more of the Minneapolis KISS Army to conjure their favorite famous face.

Just before show time, we rushed ourselves to the Target Center alongside hundreds of fans sporting their painted faces and old school KISS and Def Leppard tees. We arrived with just enough time to try our luck backstage. I haven’t had the best luck with this in the past but that’s never stopped me from trying. It was clear that timing was EVERYTHING tonight as we bumped into Matt, a real sweetheart of a guy working on tour, at just the right time. He gave us our pretty pink KISS wristbands, showed us a taste of “VIP” life and even got us a picture with the God of Thunder and the Starchild themselves.

I almost fainted when I saw Gene Simmons’ boots. He is a huge dude in those bad boys. It was like seeing a superhero in the flesh! I’ve always been a fan of his since I first saw Gene Simmons: Family Jewels. My mom and I have watched every season and just love the show. What I admire most about their family is their never-ending support for each other. Through everything, they’ve never forgotten that they are a family. As crazy as it sounds, watching that show together got us through some of our darkest times. I recognized Gene’s daughter Sophie right away backstage and was so happy I got the opportunity to meet her and chat for a bit. I’ve loved watching her grow up on TV and have always looked up to her drive and creativity.

Though KISS didn’t set the roof on fire like they did on tour in ’96, the flashing lights, fire tricks and moving mechanics were out of this world. Gene straight up flew through the air and performed his utmost classics: from DEMONstrating his impressive fire blowing skills to coughing up an insane amount of blood while flailing his monstrous tongue up and down and all around. It was a true spectacle nothing like anything I’ve ever seen before. Paul Stanley sounded and looked just as I imagined, and it was pretty damn cool to see him and Gene perform up close. “Black Diamond,” “Lick it Up,” “Love Gun” and “Rock N Roll All Nite” were the most memorable for me because they had everyone singing along. Since the night had a “Detroit Rock City” movie ending for us, seeing that song live was the most fun.

I feel terrible that I can’t talk more about Def Leppard but we honestly missed most of their performance as we mingled away backstage. Lisa Miller, our own legendary DJ at the “Q,” filled me in and said they were awesome and their energy rocked. She even played some of her crystal clear sound bites she captured on her phone during the show on the air the next day. Thankfully, we did see two of my favorite songs live, “Foolin” and “Animal.” From what we did see, Joe Elliot sounded absolutely incredible. His voice was crazy powerful and hasn’t aged in the least. He looked good too, even though he wasn’t wearing his signature ripped blue jeans he rocked in the 80’s. I am OBSESSED with those pants. I will definitely have to see these guys again in concert to get the whole experience. You win some you lose some, I guess!

The sold out crowd was on an incredible high that only intensified as the show went on. Every seat was filled and hardly anyone (in the lower levels at least) was sitting down. My photographer friend, Kyle Hanson, was standing on the floor and said the crowd was way more into Def Leppard than KISS. I believe him but WOW, everyone was freaking out during KISS that it’s hard to picture.

Like I knew it would be, my first KISS concert was one I’ll never forget. And boy, do I have the pictures to prove it. I’ve never stuck my tongue out so many times at a concert! Literally every photo taken of me during the night had my wannabe demon game face. One thing is for certain — Ashleigh and I didn’t hold anything back at this concert. That’s what made it so much fun. We snatched up the opportunities as they came, used our manors every time we spoke and were OURSELVES. More than anything, the freedom I had at this concert was what I enjoyed most, and I learned anything is possible if you just ask politely!

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