Yes, Kiss played the Whisky a Go Go on the Sunset Strip and here are 3 things we’ll remember

The marquee outside the Whisky a Go Go announced a sold-out show by Wicked Lester, but the banners and posters all over the building’s red stucco exterior made it clear who’d really be onstage at the venerable West Hollywood club on Monday.

Kiss, the band Wicked Lester became in 1973 after Paul Stanley and Gene Simmons stumbled into the idea of creating comic book characters with wild face paint and crazy costumes, just embarked on its farewell tour, and along with the huge venues the band will be playing the venerable rockers decided to make their Whisky debut before it’s too late.

“It’s so cool to be here,” singer-guitarist Stanley said at the end of “Cold Gin,” one of 12 songs the band played in its 70-minute set. “Right now, we’re in the middle of our End Of The Road tour, playing all the arenas.

“And to be able to go back and relive what we did once upon a time,” he said, referring to playing a small club. “It’s pretty frickin’ awesome.”

Stanley, who wears the Starchild makeup, and Simmons, who dons the Demon face, are the only original Kissers. But guitarist Tommy Thayer, the Spaceman, has been in the band since 2002, and drummer Eric Singer, the Cat, had been in and out of the group since 1991.

They sounded tight and looked great too, seeming to have equal amounts of fun to that of the crowd who’d scored tickets to the invitation-only show presented by SiriusXM.

From the opening number “Deuce” through such favorites as “Lick It Up” and “Love Gun” to the confetti-filled finale of “Detroit Rock City,” the band turned the Whisky into the sweaty kind of rock box where Kiss first made its name some 45 years ago.

Here’s what else caught our eyes and ears on Monday:

1) It’s strange to be this close: if you see Kiss at Honda Center on Tuesday or the Forum on Saturday, you’ll likely be watching a lot of the show on the video screens. That’s just the fact of an arena show.

So it was almost dizzying to be this close to a band like Kiss. You notice how perfectly the Cupid’s-bow lipstick of Stanley is applied or how a little five o’clock shadow is visible on their unpainted necks.

You really notice how weird Simmon’s serpentine tongue is, how it goes out, then down farther than you think a normal tongue should, then shoots forward a little at the bottom. I seem to have spent most of “War Machine,” for which Simmons sang lead, hypnotized by that organ.

But you’ll get more show in the arena: the trade-off can be boiled down to this: No pyro and just a dozen songs, instead of the 20 they’ve been playing at their arena shows so far.

Of the songs missing at the Whisky on a Monday, the most painful not to hear was Kiss’s usual encore-closing hit “Rock and Roll All Nite,” and “Beth,” the band’s biggest-ever single which Singer usually sings in place of original drummer Peter Criss.

2) Rock stars love Kiss: “You wanted the best, you got the best,” shouted guitarist Tom Morello of Rage Against the Machine and other post-Rage groups, as he introduced the group. “The hottest band in the world, Kiss!”

Others I spotted in club for the show included Billy Corgan of Smashing Pumpkins, Tony Kanal of No Doubt, and Taylor Hawkins of Foo Fighters.

Comedian George Lopez was hanging out with Kanal, and upstairs perched on a stool like some kind of mop-topped exotic bird was DJ Rodney Bingenheimer, the mayor of the Sunset Strip, out for a night with his constituents.

OK, but really?: I glanced at the back of the tiny club during “Lick It Up” and discovered a TelePrompTer scrolling the lyrics of that and every other song of the night.

Literally like this:

“Lick it up


“Whoa yeah,” for one chorus.

I mean, I noticed Barbra Streisand did the same thing at Staples Center a few years ago, but after all these years is it that hard to get the oohs and whoas in the right places?

3) Big dumb hard rock is fun! There is nothing wrong, not one thing, with silly Kiss songs. Well, as long as they don’t do “Christine Sixteen” any more, which wasn’t  cool when it was released in 1977 and Simmons was 27, and would be even more gross for him to sing today at 69.

But songs like “Shout It Out Loud” and “Say Yeah” or ” I Love It Loud” and “Do You Love Me” — all of which Kiss played on Monday — can’t help but get get you pumped up a little.

Who can resist singing along while these guys in the black and white makeup and black and silver and rhinestone spandex or codpieces — looking at you again, Simmons — rock out on stage.

And I’m still not happy I didn’t get sing along to “Rock and Roll All Nite.”

Or party every day.


When: Monday, Feb. 11, 2019

Where: Whisky A Go Go, West Hollywood

Continues: Tuesday, Feb. 12 at Honda Center in Anaheim and Saturday, Feb. 16 at the Forum in Inglewood


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