* not something Paul Stanley actually said
I'm kidding, a little, just because it's hard to take KISS's ridiculousness too seriously. But I thought their brief, 75-minute set was a total blast, even if the onstage pyrotechnics kept drowning out the actual music. Jackhammering through 15 of their best known songs, it was a mixture of the sublime ("Black Diamond"), the creepy ("Christine Sixteen"), and the odd deep cut from the non-makeup years ("Hide Your Heart"). Even during the weak spots, it was great theater, and as fun as a rock show gets. And while purists will spit fire and blood in fury at the thought, the band was truly held together by Fake Ace—AKA Oregon's Tommy Thayer, whose guitar skills were far and away the musical highlight of the night. (Stanley, meanwhile, didn't even seem to be plugged in for his star turn on "Love Gun," which he performed on a rotating mini-stage in between the 100 and 200 sections of the crowd. It didn't matter.)
I've never been much of a KISS fan, but on Friday night I realized that most of my aversion comes solely down to "Rock and Roll All Nite," a stupid song that for some reason KISS made their calling card when they reemerged in the late '90s. It's one of their worst hits, paling in comparison to "Deuce" or "Shout It Out Loud," but if you hear a KISS song on the radio, it's probably gonna be "Rock and Roll All Nite." Of course, they played it at the end—but by that time, I was totally won over by KISS's goofy, over-the-top embrace of rock 'n' roll outrageousness.
Def Leppard played as well, but I thought they were almost 100 percent completely boring. Their set only served to remind me how sterile their '80s hits were, and how truly dreadful their 1992 song "Let's Get Rocked" is. Absolute garbage.