Saturday, October 1, 2011

Kiss/Poison - July 20, 2004

Yes, you can call me biased, but I’ve always felt that everyone who enjoys music or concerts should see Kiss perform live at least once in their lifetime. Their stage show set the mark for what a live performance should be and they still work as hard as they can to provide incredible entertainment in the live setting. Thus, it was with much persuasion that I convinced my wife to attend a Kiss concert so that she could finally see what all the fuss was about and why I am so obsessed with the band.

Initially my cousin and her husband were attending the concert with us, and in hindsight, I believe that it was more for the camaraderie of friendship (my cousin and I are very close) that Cathy decided to attend the show. It would be a nice night out with close friends/family and fun for everyone. Unfortunately, at the last minute, my cousin and her husband had a change of plans and were unable to attend the show.

Normally, this wouldn’t be that big of a deal, but I was left with a request. They wanted to know if I could sell their tickets at the concert. I hate doing that. It takes away from my tailgating time and I always feel like a sleazy scalper walking around spouting “Tickets, who needs tickets?” Add in the fact that if the first buyer doesn’t want to pay face value, there is the risk of eating the tickets completely. Thus, the conundrum arrives, should the tickets be sold to the first bidder, or should ground be stood and sell only to those willing to pay face value? As I was popped with this mission the day before the concert, there was no time for an EBay listing. I had to try and sell the tickets at the show.

Even without my cousin and her husband, Cathy soldiered on and attended the concert. I was excited for her first Kiss experience; far more excited than she was. Cathy arrived with major doubts, and she was convinced that this concert was going to be lousy. I pleaded with her to have an open mind, but I am not sure if that communication ever got through.

As we arrived at the concert, I had one mission in mind – sell the tickets as fast as I could. After parking the car and staring at my cache of beer that was waiting to be consumed, I trudged out to perform the task at hand. The sooner I sold these stupid tickets, the sooner I could sit back, relax, and enjoy some tailgating. I had to unload these tickets and I was holding out for face value. These were actual seats to a show that, while not sold out, only had lawn seats available. It should have been a cinch to sell them for face value.

As I started my walk, I saw the scalpers out already. “Tickets. Anyone need tickets? Anyone selling tickets?” Now, I knew that a scalper would get much more than face value for these seats, so I thought the math was pretty simple. Buy these tickets for face value, sell them at a markup, and make a profit. However great my rational mind was, my party side just heard the beer calling and watched as daylight kept creeping away. I had to unload the tickets.

Against my better judgment, I answered the call of the scalper. “I have tickets to sell,” I said meekly approaching the swindling con artist. Scalpers area trained for this crap. They are worse than three card monte dealers in the city. They know how to hustle. It is what they do for a living. Some fast talk, a little sleight of hand, and voila, a fool and his tickets have soon parted for about half of what they are worth. That is exactly what happened to me when my desire to drink beer with my wife outweighed my sensical side to hold out for face value. This was Kiss. They were worth it.

“What do you have?” the scalper asked.
“Real seats. 400s,” was my reply. “I’m looking for face value, nothing less.”

Scalper looked at me with eyes that said I will own you. “You know the shows not sold out, right?” He was already making his play. Meanwhile, all I heard was the voice in my head screaming “Dump the tickets and let’s go drink! You aren’t Ticketmaster for crying out loud!”

“The lawn’s available, not seats,” I countered.

Scalper gazed at me again knowing he was going to win. “I’ll give you $80 for the pair.” Face value was $90. Each. He was going to have to do better than that.

“I’m looking for face value,” I repeated.

Scalper wasn’t afraid of my not-so-tough-guy approach. “$80. Take it or leave it.”

I should have left it. I should have told him to piss off and held out for a real customer, not a swindling scalper that was looking to get the best deal by any means possible. Unfortunately, beer and good times were waiting and I just wanted to get rid of the tickets. Besides, what if no one bought them? Then they were just wasted. Something was better than nothing, right? Stupid me.

I reluctantly agreed to his ridiculous price and sold the tickets for far less than I could have gotten and moved on with my day. I was just happy to sit back, relax, and tailgate until the show began.

Poison was the opening act for this tour, which was super incredible. Not only am I an insanely huge Kiss fan, but I am also an insanely huge Poison fan. And even though they play the same set list year after year after year, I enjoy seeing them in concert and I am always hopeful for a rare gem. Cathy had never seen Poison in concert, so this was a double treat for her. Poison and Kiss for her first Kiss concert. Not much more could be asked for.

Poison came out and started the night off with a bang. As expected, “Look What The Cat Dragged In” opened the evening, and even though I’ve heard it many times on tour, it was still fun to watch. Bret Michaels has such a way of entertaining the crowd, that regardless of the same set being played once again, it is still fun to witness.

All the hits were brought out for this 50 minute opening slot. “I Want Action,” “Something To Believe In,” “Talk Dirty To Me,” “Nothing But A Good Time,” and of course “Every Rose Has It’s Thorn,” which found the amphitheater lit up like a Christmas tree. As an opening act, Poison left it all on the stage and really primed the pump for Kiss. Cathy was amazed and commented how she would like to see Poison as a headlining act after that fantastic opening slot.

The big boys were next and just before Kiss was set to take the stage, two guys showed up and sat next to us. They were occupying the seats that my cousin and her husband would have sat in. Curiosity got the best of me and I just had to know what they paid for the tickets.

I leaned over and asked them if they purchased their tickets from a scalper, providing a brief description of the man that I sold the tickets to.

One of the guys nodded. “Yeah, that’s the guy.”

“I sold him these tickets. Do you mind if I ask what you paid for them?”

$125. Each. It was quite a profit for a guy who got them from me for $40 each. That hurt---a lot. I knew I should have held out for face value. Stupid alcoholic genes. With a reserved sigh I did the best I could to push it out of my head and enjoy the act of the night---Kiss!

The well known phrase of “All right New Jersey…!” rang out over the PA system, and we all knew what was coming next. We wanted the best and we got the best. The hottest band in the land…Kiss! I was as giddy as a school boy on prom night. I was more excited for Cathy, as I desperately wanted her to enjoy this concert and understand why I was so loyal to, and obsessed with, this band. Alas, not everyone is going to see things in the same light. Cathy did not have the time of her life. She barely had an “OK” time. It was awful. Here I had hoped that she would love the live event, and she didn’t even come close to liking it.

I understand, Kiss is not for everyone, but I thought there would be some appreciation for the event. Cathy’s response was “Perhaps if they took the makeup off, I could take them more seriously.” Take the makeup off? What? She obviously did not know what she was suggesting.

The show itself was a solid Kiss performance with some rarities mixed in. “Unholy,” “War Machine,” and “Makin’ Love” all were dusted off for this performance. Seeing those songs live made the entire evening worthwhile. As for Cathy, well, her favorite part of the night ended the moment Poison walked off the stage.

As far as Kiss performances go, this was another solid evening of entertainment by my favorite band. The encore was a superb one-two combo of “God Gave Rock And Roll To You” followed by “Rock And Roll All Night,” the one Kiss song that Cathy sang along with. This made me chuckle, for if there is one overplayed Kiss song that everyone knows, it is “Rock And Roll All Night.”

Cathy would not go on to be a Kiss fan, but Poison seemed to make another fan. Sometimes it’s good to be an opening act even when you are an established rock band.

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