LC Van Savage
KISS!! Me Once.
I didnít even remember saying it, but one day while spending time with our son Paul, his wife Kate and their daughter, our flawless grandchild Jordan (who by the way is a total Betty Boop clone) I apparently mentioned that once in my life Iíd like to attend a real head banging screaming deafening rock concert, just to have the experience of it.
Some months later, a Fedex truck stopped outside our home and delivered a package from Paul, and when I opened it, I was dumbfounded to find two tickets to a KISS concert near Boston, two black shirts with the KISS guysí pictures on them, and two sets of construction workerís ear plugs. And, best of all, a letter from Paul telling me my wish had finally come true. My husband "Mongo" and I would be going to a KISS rock concert on June 12th with Paulís
compliments. Is he a great kid or what??
And so Mongo and I went, and Iíll tell you, all of you whoíve never done it, you should try it. Once. It was an incredible, thrilling experience.
We arrived at the Tweeter Center and realized we were, by several decades, the oldest people there. Mongo and I walked through the enormous parking lot toward the stadium or whatever itís called, threading our way through endless clusters of happy-go-lucky youngsters swilling cauldrons of beer and oddly all smoking the same brand of cigarette. (I knew that because they all had an identical scent.) These kids were really oiling up for KISSís big entrance. As we walked toward the music, the deep electronic thunderings and roarings made me think "this is what the sound will be when the world comes to an end" and I believed it.
We charged to the very top of the bleachers (the farthest point from the eveningís entertainment) because there was a wall behind us we could lean against. This distance made the performers on stage pretty hard to see, but not to worry, there were huge TV screens showing absolutely everything going on, up close and bright. Mongo and I sat in a huge haze of that same parking lot smoke (and OK, I knew what it was, and no I don't think you can get high from second-hand reefer smoke---I kept waiting and waiting---) and we sat there like two hayseeds staring and gawking at the just humongous amount of people.
Whenever I see one or two people strolling about my hometown in leather and chains and tattoos and more leather and dyed black hair and strange vivid, make-up, I really notice them. They are outstanding. Noticeable. Even shocking. But that night Mongo and I were the weirdos! The oddballs! Everyone there wore black leather and all that other stuff, and we were definitely the concertís token rubes. It was an awfully cold night and we huddled in our (corny/normal) clothes, but the concertgoers were strolling about with lots and lots of bareness showing and they didnít seem to be shivering at all.
Lots of guys dressed up like the KISS band members, replete with the wild makeup and the Frankensteinís monster boots, all striding importantly as if they were actually going somewhere when in fact they really only wanted to be noticed by the crowds, and they were never disappointed. People reeled up to them constantly, high fiving, bumping body parts, bellowing with pleasure. At first I thought they were the real KISS band members getting a little exercise before the performance, but no. People were also dressed in a variety of other extremely weird outfits that no one seemed to think was odd. Except us. We stared.
Mr. Ted Nugentís band was the warm-up group for KISS and Mr. N. sang a few ditties in which he screamed some somewhat untoward but very descriptive sobriquets for Janet Reno, Ted Kennedy, Jesse Jackson, the Clintons of course, and every other person in politics, and the crowd screamed in appreciation at every insult of each famous person he "sang" about. He then shouted into the mike that "if you donít speak English then get the @#$*&! out of America!" and the crowd roared its approval. Nice guy. He then sang a few more songs attacking everyone else, ending his performance with a pleasant little moral, "The whole world sucks, but America sucks a little less. LETíS KEEP IT THAT WAY!!!" I thought the crowd would go mad with approval and joy. Kinda gets to you, right? Words to live by.
And finally, the big moment. The KISS boys arrived on a platform lowered from the ceiling, and Iíll tell you folks, since it was my first time, it was a thrill. Things exploded, glittered, blinded, lights flashed, the band shattered the night air and it was just something to see and hear. Wowzer! What an incredible entrance! And, I could actually understand their words. I couldnít, however, understand their make-up and costumes and that guy with the tongueóugh. I mean thatís just plain gross. He must have had it altered. No oneís tongue comes to a point like that unless his mother was an anteater. But KISS was actually wonderful, not screaming obscenities, and really putting on a helluva show! I was completely mesmerized. I had a truly incredible time!
Would I go home humming any of their tunes? Hardly. Will I ever go again to a rock concert? No. Do I want to? No. But I am so glad I got to see, hear and smell this amazing exempli gratia of American culture. Thanks Paul. You rock. It was an astonishing experience. Iíll never, ever forget it.
LCís book of poetry "LCís Take-Poetry-I" is at local bookstores.
Hear her every Wednesday on "Arts Talk with Ann and LC"
at 11-11:30 AM, on WMPG, 90.9 and 104.1.
Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Her website is www.vansavage.com.