More than 40 years ago, I went to my first KISS concert. Nearly 18 years ago, I went to my first KISS farewell tour concert. Tonight, I’ll go to my last KISS concert.
They’re currently on their last-time-and-this-time-we-mean-it tour, and they return to Pittsburgh for the last show that they’ll ever play there or, at a minimum, the last KISS show I’ll ever attend there, or anywhere.
I’ve had chances to go in recent years, during periodic small-arena tours that came within a couple of hours of my West Virginia bunker, but I’ve seen enough of their recent YouTube clips to realize it’s a far cry from the late ’70s (when I saw them twice) and fundamentally different from the late ’90s (four times).
At the 2001 show, I spent plenty of time wondering what I was doing there. A generation later, it’s amazing that they can still move on those platform shoes, even if they’re not quite as limber as they were when I saw them on TV for the first time, on Paul Lynde’s Halloween special in 1976.
Now, Paul Stanley’s voice is shot (some think he’s lip-synching), and half of the original members are gone. The only thing that hasn’t changed in four-plus decades is that Gene Simmons still has the aura of an unrepentant butthole.
Still, I’m going. One last time. And for one very important reason: Something Paul Stanley said years ago eventually provided the closest thing to a mission statement that I’ve ever had for this web address.
In explaining why they opted for over-the-top, pyro-and-grease-paint theatrical performances, Stanley said that KISS crafted the experience that they would have paid to attend. That always stuck with me, and when it was time to figure out what to do and how to do it in this space that debuted six months after the last time I went to a KISS farewell show, I remembered and applied that message.
For the past 18 years, I’ve followed that approach, giving the audience what that I would want if I were on the other side of the screen. It has worked (so far), and that very simple yet extremely brilliant approach applies in plenty of contexts. When providing an experience to a customer, provide the experience that you would want if you were the customer.
So, thanks, KISS, for inadvertently planting the seed that eventually changed my life. Ultimately, that’s the reason why I’m driving to Pittsburgh tonight to see something that will look, feel, and sound much different than it did on a Friday the 13th more than 41 years ago.
But they’re still giving fans the experience they would pay to see, and tens of thousands are doing just that for a four-man band whose two remaining founding members are now pushing 70.