My First Concert

My First Concert

1975 seems like a long time ago, it kind of is. I was 16 years old and going to my first rock concert. It was the summer of 1975, June 7th to be exact, and KISS with RUSH opening were bringing their act to the Civic Center in San Diego, Ca. These were two of my favorite bands, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

Time to experience live Rock and Roll

With ticket in hand I approached the Civic Center doors with security waiting to search me, I complied and my friends and I were soon inside. As I walked through the door that lead to the concert area I was taken aback by the size of everything. All the black curtains surrounding the stage, the volume of the music that was coming from the huge PA system, the massive lighting rigs, and all the people, it was surreal. We made it to our seats, they weren’t bad, about mid level and a little left of the stage and proceeded to people watch, that was a show in itself.

Showtime!

Rush Live

RUSH Live

Before I knew it, the lights went out and RUSH took the stage. Wow, was this AWESOME, I was mesmerized, there was so much to look at. Being a drummer myself, I fixated on the “Professor on the drum kit”, Neil Peart. This was the bands first tour with Neil, and they were touring in support of the new album “Fly By Night“, their first studio album with “The Professor”. They opened their set with “Finding My Way” from their debut album “RUSH“. Geddy Lee‘s voice pierced through the auditorium and his Rickenbacker bass along with Neil’s bass drums shook my rib cage. This was something I had never felt before. Alex Lifeson‘s Gibson Les Paul guitar blasted out of his Marshall stacks as the band proceeded to blow me away with their tight technical performance song after song. The set is a bit of a blur now, after all it was 34 years ago, but I do know it was amazing. One thing that I will never forget was what happened at the end of RUSH‘s set.

Gene and Paul Cream Pie Geddy

Gene and Paul Cream Pie Geddy

Encore for the ages

Unbeknownst to us this was the last show of the tour and KISS was planning on celebrating it with a bang. Now keep in mind that I had only seen KISS on the cover of their debut album, “KISS” and had no idea what they looked like on stage. As RUSH finished their set, out walked KISS in full costume from their make-up down to their 6″ platform boots, OH MY GOD! They were all wearing Kimonos over their outfits and proceeded to cream pie RUSH right on stage, Geddy, Alex and Neil were covered. Alex Lifeson remembers the night quite well, in the book, “Contents Under Pressure: 30 Years of Rush at Home and Away“.

“We had a big whipped cream scene with them at the end of our tour,” recalls Alex.”They just creamed us with cream pies, it was serious. I was getting stuff out of my guitar pickups for weeks afterwords”.

After the creaming RUSH and KISS went off stage and a few minutes later, much to our delight RUSH came back out for an encore. As they played, Alex and Geddy would slide around on the cream pie covered stage almost falling a few times but managed to finish the song and to a standing ovation they slid off stage.

Could it get any better?

Kiss Live

KISS Live

I didn’t think it could, but it did. KISS hit the stage like an atomic bomb. Opening with the song “Deuce” from the album “KISS” with flash pods going off, smoke bombs exploding, lights going every which way, you name it they were throwing it at us. The choreography was something I had never seen before from a band on T.V. (as I said this was my first live show) Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley moving together, Paul and Ace Frehley, then all three. I couldn’t keep my eyes off Gene, what an awesome looking persona. He stalked around the stage like some kind of praying mantis lizard creature. His tongue projecting and air licking everything in front of him, his bat like wings opened as he raised his arms, the way he high stepped in his 6″ heels as he moved around, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Paul was the perfect front man whipping the crowd into a frenzy and keeping all the ladies entertained. Ace was the silent one that did all his talking with his guitar, he had a look about him like he really was from outer space. Peter Criss rocked behind the drums doing what he could to join in with all the choreography that was going on in front of him and performed a solid drum solo. This was an amazing rock band, I loved their music and now, holy shit! what a stage show. They played songs from the album’s, “KISS“, “Hotter Than Hell” and “Dressed to Kill“.

Revenge

While all this was going on I somehow spotted Geedy Lee lurking behind the amps donning Indian head gear and carrying a loaded bow and arrow, you know, the kind with the rubber suction cup on the end. He appeared to be hunting. I think he was out to avenge his band mates and nail the dudes that wasted them with cream pies. I don’t know if he succeeded because I soon lost sight of him as he moved around, no doubt for a better shot. KISS finished their set and encore and before I knew it the lights came on and a big dose of reality hit. As we left the Civic Center and made our way to the car my friends and I recalled what we had just seen. I told myself, one things for sure, I was going to be attending a lot more concerts after this. I have seen numerous KISS and RUSH shows since, but this one was hard to top.



6 Responses to “My First Concert”

  1. SpaceTrucker says:

    What a great story Criston. What a night! Thank you.

  2. Criston Mitchel says:

    I was at this show. I was 14 years old and I’ve seen Kiss many times after. But this was one special show with a huge amount of anticipation of seeing Kiss for the first time after playing their records over and over again. And with the whipped cream encore, fantastic. Though I believe that Kiss was nailed with whipped cream pies after their set too. Anyway, what a show to have in my memory for all these years. And after the show was interesting too! We had a groupie friend that informed us that the bands were staying at The Westgate Hotel right across the street and there would be an after party. My friends and I walked around to the venue backstage exit where a stretch limo was parked. We could hear the party starting on the hotel terrace just across the street. All was eerily quiet otherwise. It was getting late and in those days, nightlife was non existent in downtown San Diego. So we walked across to the hotel and waited a bit. We peered in the side doors at the lobby and were wondering if we could get into that party! I broke away from my friends to check out the main entry to the Westgate. I took a look in through the huge windows. It looks very calm with lack of security. I believed that we could get into that party. I turn to go back to the guys and a limo pulls up and these guys are getting out and chatting it up and and one guy is in a black silk robe, hair tied up and….holy shit, it’s Kiss…no makeup! Not before then or for years after, did the fans know what Kiss looked like out of makeup. To this day, I can only describe my response to this encounter as shell shock. Oh and maybe under the influence of some chemicals…so I said and did nothing. I just stared at them as they walked into the hotel. Not sure if I was seeing what I thought I was seeing. Disoriented, I went back to my friends and told them that I think I just saw Kiss go into the hotel. We decided right then that we would just walk in and go straight to the elevator and head up to that terrace level. And we did. As the elevator door was closing, a hand comes flying in to stop the door…and us. We almost made it to the greatest party we would ever have been to. The next day we got a report on that party. A girl friend of ours who was a friend of the groupie, but not a groupie herself gave us this info. She said this, and she wasn’t one to lie… Paul Stanley was casually having a conversation in the middle of this party as a girl was on her knees performing fellatio on him. This girl said she ended up in Rush’s room. Just chatting. No drugs, no sexual advances or sexual behavior. Simply sitting on the bed with Neil Peart playing, striking the bed with his drum sticks….

  3. Ray Walker says:

    I was at this exact same show in San Diego. Went to see Kiss, but left thinking Rush blew them off the stage.

  4. bastille day says:

    Just saw RUSH last night in LA for Time Machine Tour, but man o man how I wish I could have taken the time machine back to Massey Hall when they recorded ALL the WORLDS a STAGE live album!! Your experience back in the day sounds awesome. I remember reading about that cream pie fight in their bio book. To those 3 shreddin back in the day must have been a sight!!

  5. Glenn Jensen says:

    I was there too… will never forget that concert…. rocking cool! Dude, thanks for the memories!

  6. Eric The Bad says:

    I too saw KISS on the ALIVE II tour, my first concert! I think I was 15, also on the bill were Cheap Trick and 38 Special. Both bands were great! I went with my Dad, which I thought was going to be a drag… But, he ended up loving the show, said “That Gene Simmons is a kick in the ass!” Dad loved the blood spitting and fire breathing! Fun stuff!

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