The Nest - Fostoria, Ohio
Just as excited as we were for our first show back in January, we were equally as excited about our show last night at the Nest. This was our last performance for 2011...a year that has seen us take our show to new heights. So many different memories were made along the way and those memories have helped to shape the history that we continue to write.
After such a great show on Friday night we rolled into Fostoria around 4 PM on Saturday afternoon. This was our second time at this venue, the first being this past February. Much to our surprise when we arrived there were a few improvements that were made to club that really surprised us. You might not think too much about this but from where we sit a redesigned and improved dressing room...with a bathroom and an adherence to the "no smoking" law that has been in effect for some time really made our day. Our show time was 11 PM so we got to work right away once we arrived. Having arrived as early as we did gave us an opportunity to relax a little bit before we prepared with our make up routine.
So how do we relax before a show you might ask? By taking silly photos to share a few laughs. First we found a corner in the bathroom...that's right I said the bathroom. If Iron Maiden and Motley Crue can do it so can we. I just wanted to show that we really do have fun being a part of this band. It's unusual for us to pose for photos without our characters make-up and costumes on so this felt a bit awkward. At one point Joe bent down and Andrew climbed on his shoulders which produced a shot that I wanted to share. Then we were called to the stage for our sound check and this presented another opportunity for us to fool around. So instead of taking our normal places on stage we traded places and tried our best to impersonate another member of the band. This was even more fun than the previous set of shots. We did eventually get down to business with our sound check. A few things seemed to want to slow us down while trying to work through songs. We had a lot of feedback issues and monitor problems that really do need to be worked out before we can agree to hit the stage. After the sound check we grabbed dinner from a local pizza house then settled into our dressing room to prepare for the show.
Unfortunately, we wouldn't match the same number of fans at this show that we had the night before. We found out after the show was over that the club has been experiencing low attendance numbers for many of the events being held there. This would include even Slaughter who were there just two weeks ago. Slaughter! The very same Slaughter that I saw with KISS and Winger back in 1990. There was an opening band before us that tried to capture a classic rock vibe but all it did was energize us. We hit the stage just after 11 PM and gave everything that we had. Even though the crowd was on the lighter side we did see quite a few faces from the night before that had followed us to the Nest because they just couldn't get enough. Our set list was pretty much the very same as Friday night's...with a few last minute decisions made while we were on stage. "Hide Your Heart" was the stand out track for me. The fans that did remain until the very end added a tremendous vocal quality to ours as we all performed "Rock And Roll All Nite". I really never get tired of the interaction that we have between the crowd and ourselves during that song.
So once the show had ended we met with a small group of fans for photos, autographs and general conversation. Everyone was very appreciative of our efforts and we appreciated that they were there to help us to celebrate KISS. We'll hope to return to the Nest next year. The club has great potential and we really believe that the spirit of rock and roll is alive and well in Fostoria.
Blog Entry, 12.02.11
The Zodiac - Toledo, Ohio
We came, we saw...we kicked their ass! What a show last night at the Zodiac in Toledo, Ohio. Our first time at this venue would bring a change of scenery and a whole new legion of MR.SPEED fans out for a great night of classic KISS. Let's recap.
We arrived at approximately 4 PM and assessed the stage and other accommodations for our first show at the Zodiac. To our surprise we could fit our entire show on to the stage which is always a treat for us. Everything was set and ready to go by 6:30 PM. We ran through a few songs..."Crazy, Crazy Nights", "Hide Your Heart", "War Machine" and "Calling Dr.Love". Everything sounded really good...unfortunately, the monitor mix on stage left took a turn for the worse once the show began and that's never a good thing. After dinner we made our way back to the club and found a great crowd waiting for our return. We slipped through the unsuspecting mass and made our way to the dressing room. Show time was less than 2 hours away.
At 10:30 PM we made our short walk from the dressing room via a back door that led us outside...it was cold...to the stage. Fans were pressed up against the stage and calling for us the moment we arrived. We all took our spots as our intro CD blared the Foo Fighters "My Hero" and Stryper's "To Hell With The Devil" off of the club walls. The anticipation before each show almost always feels the same. You hope that everything will go according to plan and tonight it did. From the very first notes of "Detroit Rock City" there was an energy between the crowd and the band that was electric. I asked how many people had seen us before and matched that up against how many were seeing us for the first time. The first timers outnumbered the veterans which heightened the bar for us once again. We ripped through the classics like "Shock Me" and "Black Diamond" but couldn't contain ourselves by unleashing "Hard Times" and "Hide Your Heart", two of our new favorites to play. We ran a little over on our time...much to our surprise and that led us to have to cut "Love Gun", "Beth" and "New York Groove" from the set. It really didn't matter. Everyone was really enjoying themselves and that included everyone in the band. I mentioned to the crowd that I really didn't want the show to end but tonight is another show in another town.
With a new show tonight and excited about the opportunity that awaits us it's good to see that each of us approaches their daily routine in a different way. As I recap for you what happened for us last night I think about how cool we really do look when we get ready to hit the stage. Why am I mentioning this to you? Because you've never seen Andrew first thing in the morning. His hair looks like Edward Scissorhands. His t- shirt used to be white but now closely resembles a shade of gray. There is a stain on the front of the shirt that forensics has yet to determine is a result from. Beneath that are a pair of red Jeff Gordon boxer shorts above black Nike ankle socks. Not to mention the fact that he slept with the metal cross around his neck that is part of his costume. Thank god for lots of make up and spandex.
Tonight at the Nest in Fostoria, Ohio is our last show of the year. What a year it has been. Hope to see you there.
Blog Entry, 11.28.11
Arcada - St.Charles, IL
On Friday morning we left Cleveland at approximately 7 AM. Ahead of us lay over 400 miles of highway to St.Charles, IL. A beautiful suburb just outside of Chicago. This would be our 5th or 6th performance at the Arcada Theater in about a 9 year span. Much to our surprise this was the most well attended of them all. Just over 200 fans showed up for our performance and quite possibly the loudest bunch that we could have hoped for.
We pulled in behind the theater at approximately 1 PM central time, having gained an hour on our way there. We popped into the theater to let our contacts know that we had arrived and immediately stepped across the street for lunch. There is an Italian joint called "Pie" that serves great pizza and other dishes that really must be tried if your in the area. After lunch we made our way back across the street to the theater to unload the gear for that evening's performance. The Arcada is a beautiful theater built in 1926 with a rich history. The load in process took the usual 90-minutes but the sound techs didn't seem to be in that big of a hurry. So we literally did not sound check until almost 5 PM. We hadn't practiced in two weeks so we took advantage of the time during our sound check to run through a couple of tunes. Those ended up being "Hard Times", "Domino", "Hide Your Heart", "War Machine" and "Black Diamond". Even with the time off from practice we really seemed to be in sync with one another and the songs had a great vibe to them.
Shortly after our sound check was complete we descended to the basement of the theater and the numerous dressing rooms that we waiting. We each set up in one of our own and took some time to relax before we began to apply our make up. By 7:30 PM we were just about ready...with 40 minutes to go before show time. The promoter knocked on my dressing room door and asked if we could take a few pre-show photos with some fans that were really excited about us being there. Of course that would be the easiest thing that we would do all day. With only minutes to go before the show would begin we learned that an accident not too far away was delaying some ticket holders from getting to the show. So we held off until about 8:10 and hit the stage unloading "Detroit Rock City" on the fans that were hoping for our best. Many in the crowd had never seen us before. A small number had and so we felt that we really had our work cut out for us. We needed to deliver. We split the show into two 1-hour sets with a short break in between. As I mentioned earlier the number of people may have been on the lighter side but their enthusiasm was equal to if not better than the 1600 that saw us at the Little River Casino just a few weeks earlier. It also came to our attention that a few guys from right here in Cleveland had driven 7 hours just to see us at the Arcada! That's really cool if you ask me. After every song their response grew louder and louder. By the time we got to the end of the show we had won them over. Parents had children with costumes and make up on and others were wearing KISS t-shirts showing their pride in why they came.
After the show we met up with many of the fans in the hallway just outside of the main doors to the theater. We tried to organize photo opportunities for as many as we could. We also talked with quite a few fans that maybe just wanted to say "hello" or tell us that this was their child's first concert. One mother even told me that her daughter now wanted to learn how to play guitar because she was so inspired by our performance...pretty cool, huh? When the dust had settled and our work was finished we said our "good-byes" and re-entered the theater. Only the sounds of silence filled the room now...our mission to bring KISS' music to the masses would have to settle down for the night. I felt that we had earned the respect of a whole new legion of KISS and MR.SPEED fans. Only time will tell if we truly did deliver on our promise of keeping classic KISS ALIVE!
Blog Entry, 11.12.11
OFEA Convention - Columbus, Ohio
For the past two days we were in Columbus, Ohio. Early November always marks the annual OFEA Convention. This stands for the Ohio Festivals & Events Association which we have been active members of for years now. So for two days we set up a trade show booth and promote ourselves to festival committees from all over the state of Ohio. Each year the state wide festivals come to Columbus to book entertainment for their annual festival and we want in on that action. So this year Andrew came up with the idea of setting up a mock photo shoot as a way to attract attention to our booth. As if standing around dressed up as KISS wasn't enough. So complete with a white back drop and my 35 mm camera we posed for two straight days with anyone and everyone that wanted their photo with us. People loved it! Once the photos were taken we downloaded them and attached them to a link on our web site so that everyone that had their photo taken could go to the link and grab their photo when they wished.
We also took part in Friday nights showcase. With this many of the acts are given a 15 minute time slot to show what they've got to all of the buyers. We were asked to emcee the festivities for Friday night and that's just what we did. To be honest, having been a part of this event for a number of years now we knew that our presence on stage between each act would be unusual but as always we gave it everything that we had. Sure it was a long day in the costumes and make up but in the end the reviews of our efforts were nothing short of positive. We were a hit.
Saturday night saw us participating as ourselves...no make up and no costumes. Just part of the crowd having fun. We shared some laughs and had a few drinks. Hell, Joe even won a DVD player as part of a raffle that is held each year on Saturday night. Looking back on the weekend we are completely optimistic about the work that we have secured being a part of the convention for yet another year. At last count we have not one or two events confirmed but quite possibly seven! Two of the festivals are new to us knowing that we've never been a part of their event before. So we are extremely grateful for the interest that was shown on our behalf and we hope to confirm as many of these dates as possible very soon. As always check back often to our "Tour" page for up to the minute details on all of our upcoming shows.
Blog Entry, 11.05.11
Little River Casino - Manistee, Michigan
Good things come to those who wait. I feel that this phrase applies itself more to last weekend than most I can think of. I've waited 17 years. But it's not only about me and here is how it shook down for us.
Manistee is 7 hours from Cleveland. All along we had every intention of stopping after the first 6 to visit our friend Jim Neff in Cadillac, MI. So we did just that. Every time we spend time with Jim it's like the first time. He tells his tale of KISS lore like it happened last week. We have become very good friends and this trip would not have happened if it weren't for Jim and his passion for MR.SPEED. You see, Jim wrote a letter and sent it to the casino on our behalf. He told them that he knew of a KISS tribute band that they should take a look at. Turns out his letter got into the right hands and the rest is our history. So once we met up with Jim and his wife Ann the first order of business was lunch at our favorite spot, Maggie's Restaurant. After Maggie's we were off to Cadillac High School. This trip never gets old for me. But this time we were giving Danny his first taste of KISS history, Jim Neff-style. The best part of the visit to Cadillac was actually getting the chance to go out on to the football field. Of course this is where KISS met with the student body for the last time, marched in the high school band, ran a few football plays with the team and eventually left the field in a helicopter...dropping the now famous leaflets or flyers if you will that stated "Cadillac High-KISS Loves You". So we took a few photos ourselves, goofed around a bit and for a few brief moments tried to put ourselves in KISS' shoes. After a short visit back at Jim's home we were off to Manistee and our next show.
We pulled into the casino and freaked out! The very first thing that we saw was our name...up in lights! Upon entering the front door of the casino the very first thing that we saw was our image on a poster in the lobby with a banner reading "Sold Out" draped across the upper righthand corner. Our day was getting better by the minute but soon would be coming to an end. We needed to rest up for the following day and the show. Bed time.
The following morning we were up and at 'em by 10 AM. After breakfast we met up once again with Jim and got our first look at the stage and dressing room area. This place is first class all the way. The stage was huge, the dressing rooms were the best we've ever been in and the theater was spacious. By 12:30 we were unloading the show on to the stage which for me is always an amazing moment when we can put the entire show up and still have room to spare. By 3 PM we were ready to sound check. Did I mention the sound system? It was phenomenal! On top of that the lighting was incredible and all of this was shaping up to be one hell of a night for us. We ran through "Sure Know Something", "Tears Are Falling" and "Hard Times". We really didn't want to leave the stage. We pleaded with Toby and his crew to let us play a few extra songs but they insisted that we stop. They didn't mean anything by it but they had what they needed and wanted us to save the rest for the show.
We had a 7 PM meet 'n greet scheduled with a few of Jim's friends along with a couple of resort employees. This lasted about 15 minutes. After that we made our way back to our dressing rooms and caught our last few moments of rest before the show. Our demeanor leading up to the show was very loose. We knew that a lot was riding on this performance but the excitement about this show had us pacing backstage like caged animals.
All of a sudden the house lights dimmed and The Who's "Won't Get Fooled Again" pierced the event center air. Our moment had finally arrived. The curtains peeled apart and electricity ran between the four of us. We were in Michigan so of course we began the show with "Detroit Rock City". With each song the applause afterward seemed to get louder and louder. At first it seemed that we might not be reaching the crowd with our performance but slowly the space between the stage and the seats would be filled with those that wanted more out of the experience. Fans began layering themselves up against the stage and before too long what seemed like a mild, mannered crowd resembled an enthusiastic, ready to party branch of the KISS Army. All of our dreams were becoming reality right before our eyes. All of the preparation for this one show was paying off and we could sense that on this night we would make KISS and the KISS Army proud. Before we knew what hit us the show was coming to an end. But not before we filled the air with smoke, covered the stage with blood, put smiles on the faces of the wild animals from the first row to the last and left them wanting more.
Once the show was over we hurriedly made our way out to the lobby and our merchandise table. There we met with many fans for 45-minutes to an hour. Surreal as it seemed that all of our preparation and time leading up to this show was now a smoldering ember of our best laid efforts. One fan remarked that she knew nothing about KISS but found us to be very entertaining. So much so that she intended to let the casino know that they would like to see us come back and in turn they would return for the show. In the end we were thrilled with our entire experience. The staff of the Little River Casino was second to none in our book. We were treated like kings the entire time that we were there. Our first taste of casino life left us wanting more and thirsting for the chance to do it all over again. On Sunday morning we left the resort at 11 AM. On our way home we stopped just outside of Cadillac to take it one more KISS site. When KISS was in Cadillac in 1975 they stayed at the Caberfae Motor Lodge on M-55. This is now the Rodeway Inn. Of course I had to take some photos. The images you know of KISS with the city officials having breakfast were taken there and it seemed to be the perfect ending to an amazing trip.
I hope that you enjoyed the story and the images that match. We're looking forward to an amazing 2012 and a return trip to Manistee.
Blog Entry, 10.23.11
We rolled into Wilmington, Ohio yesterday afternoon excited about our show last night at the Buckeye Livery. For those of you that have seen us at the Sly Fox over the years this room was very reminiscent to that. We made some minor changes to the stage upon arrival and very soon we were ready to go. We really want to say thank you to everyone that we met at the venue yesterday. This includes many people including our contact Steve Zitney. Also Larry, Emily and the guys from Reeking Havoc, the opening band that we shared the stage with. Some of the nicest people that we've met along our journey this year.
Once we arrived at the club we set up shop on the second floor. The club itself is a full service restaurant and bar which would soon be filled to capacity for our 10 PM performance. So we got into character and met with a few fans before the show for photos just outside of our dressing room. We descended the stairs towards the main floor and the stage. Unfortunately, once we got there I was unable to go on due to an unexpected illness. I won't go into details but I want to thank those that came to my aid and tried to comfort me enough to feel better. You know who you are. After a 45 minute delay we finally took the stage and never looked back. The crowd at first was very reserved sitting in their seats but responding as best they could. By the time we got to "Lick It Up" in the set I had had enough. If I could stand up there then I felt they could stand too. Their were parents with their children, faces painted like that of their favorite KISS member, standing and rocking with us. The center aisle disappeared as many from the bar area spilled into the main room and filled the aisle up to the stage. Fans were pointing and singing along...fists pumping into the air. I love the "Gene-like" faces that many fans make at most shows, sticking their tongues out as if they're in the band themselves.
We didn't add any new songs to last nights show. However, we did work on a new Ace track during sound check. No...I'm not going to tell you what it is but I will tell you the album...Dynasty. We did find ourselves in a situation where we needed to add a few songs and the lucky tracks were "C'mon & Love Me" and "Heavens On Fire". By the time the show came to a close the entire crowd was on its feet surging towards the front of the stage. Unfortunately, we didn't stick around to talk to many of the fans and for those that were hoping to chat we're sorry. Everyone felt the need to make sure that I was ok and we made our way to the dressing room quickly to return to our normal selves again. By 2 AM we were on our way back to the hotel and as much sleep as we could get. That would be about 7 hours or so...until the little brats in a neighboring room on our floor began running up and down the hallway screaming! Thanks mom and dad. All in all we had a great time in Wilmington and have already begun negotiations to return in the summer/fall of 2012. We will be back sooner but not at the Buckeye Livery...however this time will be the Murphy Theater in May. Thanks to everyone that came out...we loved your enthusiasm and we'll look forward to seeing you all again soon.
Blog Entry, 10.02.11
Well, it's 9:43 AM and I can't sleep any longer. Feels like I just got home from last nights show at the Sly Fox. Not the best turn out that we could have hoped for but as the saying goes it is what it is. Thankfully the constant rain that we dealt with throughout the day subsided when we arrived so load in was a breeze. After all these years of cramming ourselves into what becomes our dressing room at this place somehow didn't seem so bothersome to me last night. Maybe we've just found our comfort zone and we know what needs to get done.
Having put our summer jaunt of shows behind us for yet another year returning to the Sly Fox was a blessing in disguise. We didn't need to contend with the elements for one thing and the sound at this place is usually pretty consistent. The only buzz kill to the night is beginning our make up process in advance of our sound check. So those of you who come out to see us and get there early may wonder why we conduct our sound check with half of our make up on. Seeing as the club is one of many businesses in a small plaza a few of the others request that we refrain from making any noise until after 9 PM. So if you put two and two together we must at least start the process in order to be ready to hit the stage on time.
Ah, the show. We blew things up with "Modern Day Delilah" as our opener. This song jockeys for the opening slot with "Detroit Rock City" every couple of shows. For us the highlights musically were two songs that we've been working on over the past few weeks. Quickly becoming one of our favorite tracks to play live, much to my surprise is "Makin' Love". The feedback from fans is unanimous on this one...it rocks! The other made its debut last night from 1979's Dynasty and that was "Sure Know Something". Interestingly enough we feared that the song might not match up with the power of the set lists other contenders but what a treat to play. There really is no better feeling that putting your heart into a song that you've heard for the better part of your life and watching it come to life on stage. As much as we hope that each and every song is well received it's also very important that we get off on what we're doing too. This song was that for me last night...just a good challenge and lots of fun to play. Of course we mixed in as many of the other trappings as we could. There was blood splattering and smoke billowing along with tribal rhythms kicking you in the chest. All of this mixed into close to 30 KISS tracks that have shaped all of our lives in one way or another.
As our calendar year winds down our performances at places like the Sly Fox become critical for us to keep up our chops. We still have some key performances ahead that require our complete and undivided attention. So it was good to get back into the clubs and knock off the rust from a few more tracks that we've learned. It also gives us a chance to assess other issues such as costuming, gear and the physicality of what being in a KISS tribute band can bring. Thanks to those of you that came out and welcomed in the month of October with us. Here's to a great end of 2011. We'll look forward to seeing you again very soon.
Blog Entry, 09.12.11
Mantua Potato Festival
Our last outdoor show of our 2011 tour would drop us off in Mantua, Ohio. The event was the Mantua Potato Festival. Of course after last weekends storms we were very leery about the weather leading up to this performance. As it turned out we had good reason to be nervous. We were told when we arrived that rain had put an unannounced end to Friday nights festivities and our performance appeared to be in jeopardy as well.
We arrived to a rainy, swamp-like field that would be our sanctuary for the evening. Workers were feverishly applying hay to the grass to provide ample footing or to try and dry up the soaking rains that were creating soggy conditions within the midway. Upon arriving we were told that the opening act had cancelled which meant that we had extra time with which to set up. Not needing to be there so early we found a local pizzeria and grabbed lunch in hopes that the rain would subside. Once back at the site we unloaded the show on to the stage and prepared for our sound check. Unfortunately, the rain began to fall again. This time the rain found small holes in the tent above the stage to drip down on our gear. Still unnerved from last weekend we quickly grabbed tarps and covered everything that we could. By 6 PM we were ready to commence with our sound check. Halfway through however the rain began to fall one more time. Slowly at first but then more consistently and more heavily. At this point we were considering the possibility of not performing at all. We really didn't want a repeat of what happened to us the week before...having to scramble to unplug and protect our equipment in a major downpour. So we met with the festival organizers and decided that we would perform only if the rain stopped well enough in advance for us to get in to costumes and make up. If not, we considered performing the entire show sans make up and earlier than scheduled.
As luck would have it the rain finally stopped. By 7 PM we were cleared for an 8:30 PM start time so we were off to prepare. We actually completed the make up process in just over an hours time. Hitting the stage at just about 8:30 PM we threw caution to the wind and put everything we had into a 90-minute show. A few set list changes were made on the fly which included not performing "Shandi" or "100,000 Years". Instead we added "C'mon & Love Me" and "Makin' Love". A small crowd braved the elements and did their best to appreciate our efforts. We must have done something right because by the time we finished the show there were a few fans wanting more. It's better to leave them wanting more than to have them leave before we're finished.
In the end we triumphed over the rain this time. Even with the stream behind the stage overflowing on to the ground beneath the stage we soldiered on. We're stronger as a band because of the recent adversity that we've faced and better because of it. From here on out the remainder of our performances are indoors...there's no stopping us now. You want KISS...we'll give it to you. You want it loud...we'll give it to you, right between the eyes!
Blog Entry, 09.18.11
Looking back on our performance outside of Buffalo, NY brought a few things full circle for us. Having spent a good bit of time over the years visiting there as well as walking through the streets of this festival I felt as if we belonged. Seeing other bands perform on the stage that we were now on gave us a good sense of pride in the band that we now have.
We performed the night before this show outside of Columbus, OH which made this show stand out for us. We usually do not perform back-to-back shows in different cities so we were excited and hopeful. Hopeful that we could deliver to the Buffalo crowd the same intensity-filled performance that we had given the night before. There will always be fans at each show that have never seen us before and they deserve our best. We don't have the luxury of slacking off or complaining about what it is that we do when it comes to performing. We love this and want you to love it too.
So we rolled into North Tonawanda, NY right around 2:30 PM and pulled up next to the stage. The biggest contrast between last night and today would be the size of the stage. We went from a professional size stage to one that was 1/3 of that. To that point the lighting and sound were far less than what we had too. But the great thing about our band is that we can make the most of any stage that we walk on to just by believing in ourselves. As long as we deliver the goods the rest will take care of itself. Two local bands were supporting us tonight so we needed to make sure that we put enough of our back line up to create the KISS vibe while giving them enough room to do their thing too. After getting things set up to our liking we stepped aside for the others to get set up in front of us. We grabbed dinner down the street from the venue at Crazy Jake's...excellent choice I might add. Once back at the stage the first band was well into their set so we disappeared across the street in what would serve as our dressing room for the evening.
Just before 8:30 PM we strolled back across the street to the stage. Our time had come to put up or shut up. I love the challenge of performing in new markets such as this. One's that we rarely perform in to see if we can capture the crowd and make them believe that they're really seeing KISS. The setting for this show was very cool. The stage was set on a street that ran parallel to a canal where people could watch and listen to the show from their boat if they wished. An enthusiastic crowd assembled in front of the stage stretching from left to right and back for at least 50 yards. We played really well. The classics sounded great and two of the newer tracks "Shandi" and "100,000 Years" were performed with great passion. Andrew and I really clicked when it came time to include the crowd in a call and response during "100,000 Years". Danny's blood routine turned another corner reminding us that he's on track for really bringing his spotlight segment of the show to another level. We thought the crowd the night before was into it and even with half the amount watching this performance they didn't let us down. Each response was tremendous. In attendance was a member of the tribute band Strutter. His name is Moe and he portrays "Paul Stanley". A really nice guy and very complimentary of us as a band. Very refreshing to meet him and know that he appreciated our efforts as much as he did.
In the end we felt that we really had a great show. The crowd was into it, we were into it and you can't miss with that combination. We were told that we will be brought back in 2012. We look at that as a job well done. We will look forward to seeing everyone again when we return. Rock on Buffalo!
Blog Entry, 09.04.11
If anyone would have told us that our weekend was going to play out the way that it did I never would have believed them. We had three shows, three days in a row, in three different cities. We were excited. Here's what I have to say about the first two.
Our first stop was the Hard Rock Cafe in Pittsburgh. I finally got the chance to play in my hometown. I was really excited. No one showed up because the show was poorly promoted. Couldn't wait to leave.
Our second stop was to be in Hamilton, Ohio on Friday night. The show was cancelled.
Our third stop was the 5th Annual Drakefest in Eaton, Ohio. We arrived shortly after 8 PM on Friday evening. We settled in for the festivities the next day. The weather was hazy, hot and humid. So we arranged for load-in at 10 AM. After assessing the stage and deciding on what we could actually fit on to the stage we completed our sound check just before 1 PM. The setting for this show was very picturesque. On the water near the marina of Lake Lakengren. This was our third time performing here in their five year history. Once we finished the sound check we took a pontoon boat ride back to our friends home. We were staying with the promoter of the event seeing as they are good friends of ours.
We finished our make up and costume preparation just before 8 PM and headed back to the marina for our 8:30 show time. In the past we had taken a boat and also a fire truck to get to the stage. This year we slipped in under cover in a minivan. Once we arrived at the stage we took a few moments to tune our guitars and make sure that everything was ready to go. We had heard that a very bad storm was approaching the area but that we would be able to get the show in. We hit the stage at 8:25 PM with "Detroit Rock City". A very large crowd was pressed up against the stage. The energy was amazing. We felt great and could sense a great night of classic KISS ahead. Then everything started to unravel. Did I mention that it was humid? As soon as we began to sweat and the stage lights were turned on we all became human pest strips! The bugs were everywhere...on our skin, in our hair...even in our mouths! But we kept playing. Off in the distance I began to see vivid bolts of lightning flashing in vibrant blues and oranges but we kept playing. Soon after the wind began to pick up and the rain began to fall. But this didn't seem to bother anyone so we kept playing. I decided to switch my guitar and as I was doing so the promoter appeared at the back of the stage and told me that we had 45 minutes with which to finish our show...get in the laser light show and conduct a full fireworks display. What we didn't know was that Mother Nature had other plans. She dumped a storm down on us within 10 minutes that we hope to never see again.
Before we knew what hit us the rain was coming in sideways on to the stage. All of our gear was getting soaked. So here we are in 7" platform boots trying to assess the situation while trying not to get electrocuted. People were running everywhere. Lightning was cracking all around us. We were literally in the middle of a storm that we thought was going to destroy 17 years of hard work right before our eyes. Guitars, amplifiers, our lighted KISS sign, the drums, nothing was being spared. We needed to unplug everything in case the stage was struck by lightning. It was amazing to us how we may have initially been careless with our thoughts of trying to save our equipment instead of trying to get to safety. The only word that I can think to describe what was happening was chaos. At one point we needed to get out of the rain and hope that it would stop before permanent damage was done to any of our equipment. A trailer had been set up behind the stage for us to use to get cleaned up in after the show. We all sought out shelter there until the storm had passed enough to continue the recovery. Once inside the trailer our nerves were completely exposed. I was trying to find the strength to offer the most sound advice to keep everyone focused but it was difficult. Eventually the storm did subside and we were able to...in costume keep in mind, all of this was done while we were still in our costumes...reorganize and repack our trailers. In the midst of the storm we pretty much threw whatever we could into wherever we could. So now we had to dig it all back out again and start over. We decided that we would get things as organized as possible and head back to Steve's house. There we would empty our trailers into his garage and assess the damage for the first time. That didn't happen. Once we got back it was after 11 PM and we were exhausted. We put on some dry clothes, cleaned off our make up and grabbed something to eat. What a day!
In the end we had waited three years to return to Eaton and the weather only allowed us to perform 8 songs. We were truly amazed at how our dream weekend of performing three shows in a row had been turned so upside down in a flash. I have to be honest with you that in all these years I have never been so glad to get back home and put a series of shows behind us. Once we arrived home today we spent five hours unloading our trailers and giving everything the once over that it deserved. I am happy to report that the rock gods were merely testing us to see how badly we want to keep doing this. Our sign, our amps, our lighted staircases, our guitars and we hope our drums all survived the onslaught. Andrew commented that he heard a quote that goes "why do we get knocked down...so we can get back up". That's what we do. I have to hand to everyone in the band and on the crew...we did what we needed to do so that we can keep rocking for you.
We'll see you all soon!
Blog Entry, 08.20.11
Rock the Lock
Akron Rocks! Akron Rocks!
It's as simple as that. An estimated crowd of 5,000 fans came out to welcome us back to Lock 3 Park for our Rock the Lock performance. As a band you dream of and live for shows like this. The weather was perfect and the crowd was everything we have to come to expect when we perform for them. Let's get to the gory details.
We arrived at 3 PM for our load in. I mention this because it's quite a distance from the loading dock to the stage. Everything gets loaded out of our trailers on to a loading dock. We then make multiple trips using carts, dollies and even carrying things by hand to the stage. However, we had two stage hands from the venue that were incredibly helpful to us. They were very polite and courteous and very kind. So what seemed like an arduous task was made much easier with their help. There was an event being held at the park when we arrived but we couldn't wait. We immediately got to work and within 90-minutes we had our entire stage set up and ready to go. It's very nice to be the "headlining act" at an event like this. We really did get the "star" treatment.
At 5:30 PM we made our way across Main Street to the Lockview Restaurant & Bar. There's not much to it but that's what gives it it's charm. So we grabbed dinner there and within an hour we were on our way back to the park to get ready. By this time a decent crowd had started to assemble on the lawn in front of the stage. Even in front of the stage I could see fans with their faces painted, pressing themselves against the barrier to get the best spot possible. Playing for the Rock the Lock series is one of the best shows for us in that we really do have the best amenities available. From stage help to sound and especially the dressing room it's top notch. So we made ourselves comfortable in the dressing room and began to prepare for the transformation into our characters for the show.
The opening band finished right around 8 PM and we made our way to the stage at 8:15. The pre-show prep was effortless last night. We listened to "Creatures of the Night" for a little extra inspiration while applying our make up and costumes. Our show was broken up into 2 sets. Each was basically one hour in duration. So after TK O'Grady from WONE 97.5 introduced us we hit the stage. Each and every song was met with an overwhelming amount of applause. The sound on stage was the best we've had this year. Of course Danny had a better monitor mix for vocals than I did but I'm getting used to that. Sweat was pouring from our bodies as the sun disappeared to our right. The crowd swelled to an unbelievable number by the time that our first set was finished. We didn't really add anything too crazy to the set. A new favorite for us is "Strange Ways" off of Hotter Than Hell. I'm not sure too many people knew that one but hopefully we exposed a few people to a really cool song that they weren't too familiar with. In the second set we performed for the second time "Shandi" off of Unmasked. We're especially proud of this track. A huge hit for KISS in Australia in 1980 and we really enjoy performing it at our shows. Yeah...sometimes it really is more about what we want to do rather than what you might want to hear. But we're working on pleasing everyone...honest. As our show was winding down we kind of lost track of time. The park has a very strict curfew which we weren't taking into consideration so we had to eliminate a few songs from the set. Even a new ending that we've been working on for "Black Diamond" and a crowd participation part during "100,000 Years" had to be scrapped. But that didn't' deter us from going out with a bang if you will. As always we ended the show with "Rock and Roll All Nite". This song is hands down the best way to end a KISS-style show. The crowd just went nuts and the energy that is created between there and the stage is very powerful. We really didn't want it to end.
After the show we met for a short while with many fans for photos, autographs and small conversation. We want to thank everyone that came to see us at our merchandise table. We sold out of almost everything that we brought to the show. That very rarely happens. We signed cups, money, t-shirts, photos, clothing that I wasn't even sure what it was and even arms! We really are grateful for everyone coming out to see us and spend some time with us. It's always an amazing feeling to look out into the sea of faces and find many that make us smile. Our army is growing and we're extremely proud of the fan base that we are creating. The memories are priceless and we will hope to return in 2012 to do it all over again.
Blog Entry, 08.14.11
Quaker Steak & Lube
A modest crowd caught our show last night at the Quaker Steak & Lube in Sheffield, Ohio. Leading up to the show we were concerned about the threat of rain and the possibility of the show being moved indoors. Thankfully that didn't happen and we were able to transform their stage area into our home for 2 straight hours.
There were a few changes to the set list for this show. Gone was what had become our standard opener in "Modern Day Delilah" having been replaced by "Detroit Rock City". We also worked into the show the debut performance of "Shandi" performed by the entire band. As always, we want to push ourselves to see what we're capable of and to offer you the best overall selection of KISS tracks at each of our shows. Judging by the reaction of a few of the die-hards in attendance our hard work was very much appreciated. We've got a few other songs in the works and it's quite possible that they may make their way into the show very soon. The balance of the set list consisted of the usual suspects.
Danny, Joe and Andrew gave their spotlight moments their best during "God of Thunder", "Shock Me" and "100,000 Years". As is sometimes the case as the last few echoes of "Rock and Roll All Nite" resonated in our ears the crowd was still calling out for more. We met with fans for a short meet 'n greet near the stage after the show. Most of the fans at the show were from the Cleveland area but we did manage to talk to a family that made the trip in from Detroit just to catch our show.
In the end we were very grateful that the weather held out, the crowd that attended were enthusiastic and we set ourselves up for next week's show in downtown Akron on Friday night. Thanks to those that came out and we'll see all of you crazy people on Friday at Lock 3 Park in downtown Akron!
Blog Entry, 08.07.11
Rally in the Alley
This is our third year in a row performing at the Rally in the Alley series. It holds us special place for us seeing as both Andrew and I live here. It feels good to drive by the site after our shows there knowing that we put the best show possible up on the stage in our hometown and rocked it for the fans that showed up.
We had heard that a few of the previous weeks performances were cancelled on the count of the weather. We didn't really want that to happen to us so we kept a close eye on the forecast leading up to the show. Once again the rock gods smiled down upon us as the temperature was in the mid-80's and the sky couldn't have been more blue. We pulled in shortly after 2 PM and got to work right away assembling our back line. By 4 PM we were ready for sound check. After running through 3 songs we felt pretty good about the overall sound and then gathered in the Main Street Cafe for dinner. During dinner we discussed a few upcoming projects that we're considering along with restructuring our set list to help it flow better. After dinner it was time to commence the transformation...time to become KISS.
A few weeks ago you may have read on our Facebook page that Andrew had secured another piece to our KISS puzzle on Ebay. I'm talking about our very own Superman curtain that was making its debut in our dressing room tonight. A local music store called Woodsy's graciously set up their back room to act as our dressing room. The A/C was a welcome treat and we got down to business right away. We needed to be on stage at 7:30 PM for our first of two sets. A really good crowd welcomed us back and we took off with "Deuce". It didn't take long for the sweat to start flying from our bodies as the sun began it's slow descent on the western side of the lot in which we were performing. With every song the space between fans grew increasingly smaller as the crowd grew. We had to take an hour break at 8:30 which then gave us the chance to meet with fans for photos. At 9:30 we were back on stage and by this time the crowd had grown considerably, everyone standing shoulder to shoulder chanting our name. The break took it's toll on my voice at the start, we had some minor tuning problems, broke a few strings and even forgot a few prompts in the process. One of the highlights was "100,000 Years". The call and response after Andrew's drum solo was great at this show. As the set list dwindled down to just a few remaining songs the crowd was seemingly wanting to explode.
We wait for months to perform at each one of our shows, hoping to create exciting memories along the way. Tonight's show was another example of the unique marriage of passion and fanaticism between the stage and the crowd. Our show ended with the crowd wanting more. But we believe that it's always better to leave them wanting more than trying to give in to their desires. We will see them again. We'll make sure that we give them the best that we can each and every time. It was hot and the energy was hotter...hotter than hell, or so it seemed.
Blog Entry, 07.28.11
Broad Street Bash
If ever the phrase "hotter than hell" was to be used in reference to one of our shows it was last night.
We rolled into Middletown, Ohio yesterday afternoon right around 1 PM. We had never been there before so we weren't exactly sure what to expect. The streets seemed very quiet with very few people moving about. After a few wrong turns we eventually found our way to where we would be performing. The streets were lined with buildings that echoed of a past that once was vibrant but now seemed subdued. We met up with Tim, our contact and soon were unloading the show on to the stage. The sweltering temperatures were bittersweet as we often find ourselves being thankful that it's not the middle of January even though we can't wipe away enough sweat from our faces. Set upon a concrete wedge in the middle of town we assembled the stage minus our stair cases for the show. The sound company showed up and within a few hours we were ready for sound check.
We can't say enough about the degree of hospitality that we received from Tim and his staff. Everyone was more than gracious to us and we were treated like kings. From the dressing room to our meal to the overall kindness that was extended to us we really can't say "thank you" enough.
Right around 5 PM we left the stage area to relax for a while and enjoy a home cooked dinner that was prepared for us. The temperature outside was in the low 90's and the crisp, cool air conditioning was a welcomed amenity as we fueled ourselves for the task at hand. Near 6 PM we began to apply our make up as the opening band did their best to entertain the early crowd that assembled in front of the stage. They played everything from the Violent Femmes to Metallica...I know, right? With each passing minute the crowd grew larger and larger. We finished our pre-show ritual and headed to the stage at about 7:20 PM. Quite a few KISS t-shirts and even a handful of MR.SPEED t-shirts were strewn throughout the crowd. We were excited with the amount of people that came out to see us. From the very first song to the last notes of "Rock And Roll All Nite" the response was amazing. Andrew even commented on the number of fans that actually knew the words to "Modern Day Delilah" at this show. That's funny because you'd be surprised how many people appear to sing the songs along with us but fight to sing the right words in the process...we see it at every show. There was an estimated 3,000 people in attendance for our show. Everyone was having a great time. There really weren't any standout moments to mention, so I won't rack my brain to write about any. The best way to summarize the show was that it was really hot, the crowd was totally into it and we had a blast.
With sweat still pouring down my forehead from under my KISS Army hat during load out this long day was finally coming to an end. Overall the response to our performance was overwhelming. Chances are that we will be back to rock the Broad Street Bash once again in 2012. To everyone that came out...THANK YOU! You really made us feel incredible and we hope that the memory of your MR.SPEED experience will linger for some time to come. Hope to see you all again next year...and bring a friend.
Blog Entry, 07.02.11
First Town Days
We couldn't have asked for better weather rolling into our performance yesterday in New Philadelphia, Ohio. What Andrew affectionately calls "rock and roll blue" skies cradled the midday sun as we prepared to rock later in the evening. Over the years we have always performed on Saturday night at this festival. This would be our first attempt at pulling a crowd on a Friday by which from what I am told is not as easy to do. Everything was rolling along smoothly. The stage was set, the costumes and make up were lying in wait. The smell of setting powder was lingering in our noses. All of a sudden you could hear a pin drop...Danny forgot his bodysuit! Moments away from climbing aboard our very first parade float we get the news that he had left his bodysuit behind. Frantically the call goes out to his wife Jen who is due to arrive shortly for the show. So in true fashion Joe stepped up and "Frankensteined" a method to still have Danny appear in the parade. What he did was actually took his wife's pants and turned them inside out which Danny wore. He then took the t-shirt that he had been wearing and turned it inside out and put that under Danny's armor. The experiment worked! No one even noticed. We of course were picking on him the entire time. Soon after the parade concluded his bodysuit arrived in our dressing room. Everyone was given their respective clothes back and our demon was properly put together.
Show time was 9:00 PM. We relaxed in the dressing room for about an hour and hit the stage right on time. The crowd was good but not what we were used to. Still we knew that the fans were expecting the best and we wanted to give it to them. The sun was just falling behind the tree lined hill in front of the stage as "Modern Day Delilah" poured from the front of house speakers. There was a tremendous amount of heat between the pavement beneath us and the fans pressed against the stage. So much so that before too long sweat was pouring off of our bodies as if were half way through the Cleveland marathon. Musically we really played well. One of the highlights of the show was "100,000 Years". The call and answer section half way through the song was much better at this show. Even with the number of shows that we've played so far this year we're still trying to improve our set and this is one song that challenges me each time we do it.
During the show fans were talking to us and giving us feedback. Some loved what they were seeing and hearing. Others wanted us to know that they traveled miles to catch our show. Two fans in particular drove 90-minutes just to see us. We even had someone there from Spokane, WA! Now he didn't come all that way just to see us but he did say that our show was the highlight of his trip. As usual we concluded the show with a short meet 'n greet signing everything from t-shirts to hats to souvenir cups. We all got cleaned up and loaded out, pulling out of the stage area at about 1 AM.
Early indications are that we may be back in 2012. That's a long way off so we won't rule it out. Never say never. Thanks to everyone that came out to the show. We'll look forward to seeing each of you soon. We've got a short break for a few weeks when we'll be heading to southern Ohio for our next show at the end of the month. Thanks to everyone on the festival committee that made our visit so enjoyable.
Blog Entry, 06.26.11b
Tonight was a night to celebrate one more year in our history. It is exactly 17 years to the day of our very first show. What a ride it's been. It's hard to put it into words but I'm very grateful for the stage of MR.SPEED and wouldn't change a thing. The band has never been better and tonight we were in Garrettsville, Ohio to prove just that.
We rolled into town on Friday afternoon beneath a cloudy and rainy sky. We surely had our reservations that the night would go our way but we know better based on our experience. So we pulled up to the stage...hesitantly I might add and waited for our que to begin. It took a little time for us to get the green light so we relaxed in a local restaurant for a short while and waited. Soon we were able to set up our show. The stage was on the smaller side so we scaled back our production in order to still give the crowd the best show possible. We did have some sound issues based on the weather. The sound man didn't want to use his bigger system and we weren't cool with that. So we met with our contact and compromised in order to reach an agreement. Soon things were in order but we weren't ready for our sound check. We grabbed dinner and shared a few laughs just prior to conducting our sound check. Everything was ready to go and we disappeared into a third floor apartment just down the street from the stage for our make up ritual.
By this time the weather had broken and a calm, cool dusk began to settle over the stage. We could watch people enjoying themselves below from our third floor vantage point and a good crowd was assembling. Having never been to Garrettsville we were excited about what was in store. We hit the stage at approximately 9 PM and blew their minds. I don't think that anyone in the crowd knew what to expect. There were a few KISS t-shirts visible throughout the crowd along with even a few familiar faces. I was a little out of sorts during the show for one reason. I had accidentally left my guitar straps behind so Joe let me use one of his. This meant that I was unable to use my wireless system which gives me complete freedom on the stage. Tonight I felt like a prisoner, unable to move the way that I'm used to. Thankfully the stage size was smaller which worked to my favor. Danny really stepped us his game at this show. He incorporated "Gene-like" moves into his character more so than we have seen. We weren't thrilled with the overall sound system throughout the show but we made the most of it. We really held the crowd. By their reaction to our show we made a host of new fans there that night.
We finished up the night with a short meet 'n greet realizing that we needed to get home to prepare for the following night's performance in Brunswick. We want to thank everyone that came out to support our show. Before we even left the dressing room after the show we were offered to return in 2012. We will do everything that we can to negotiate that deal and we will look forward to seeing you and your friends next year.
Blog Entry, 06.26.11
Brunswick Old Fashioned Days Festival
A few hours ago we rocked our third straight performance at the Brunswick Old Fashioned Days festival. I have to say the third time really was the charm. It's unprecedented that the same band can return to a community festival for three straight years and draw larger and larger crowds each time. But that is exactly what we do. I am convinced that if the band is ready and the crowd is ready that it's a match made in rock and roll heaven.
This show would mark the debut performance for yet another brand new stage prop. Hand delivered by our friends Jeff & Kelly in Jackson, MI would be our brand new 30" high drum riser! Hard to believe in the 17 years that we've been around that we've never had our own but now we do. It is amazing and looks killer anchoring our entire back line. Everyone arrived at just about 3 PM for our load in and it was hard to contain our pride for how our stage set up is looking right now. We actually need larger trailers to carry the show but in the end it's what we know you want to see and we want to have behind us at each and every show.
We really want to thank Kevin, Caryn, Ronnie, Scott and the rest of the amazing staff at the festival for their hard work and support of our band. They really do run an efficient event and make us feel great every time we work together. The weather is always a factor when we take the show outdoors and the skies over Brunswick were threatening the entire time that we were setting up. We slipped into our dressing room for dinner around 5:45 PM and then hit the stage for our sound check right around 6:30 PM. A few fans had gathered to catch the sound check amongst the many that were enjoying themselves throughout the midway of the festival. Back in the dressing room shortly thereafter we morphed into our on stage characters and hit the stage for good at 8:30 PM.
What an amazing feeling to walk up on to the stage and see 2000 people waiting to rock and roll right along with you. It really is moving. Faces in the crowd were brimming with excitement as our intro faded and we put the pedal to the metal with "Modern Day Delilah". The feeling on stage right from the start was incredible. With every song the response from the crowd grew stronger and stronger. I couldn't help but get more and more into my character as we chipped away at our set list. We dusted off two new tracks for this set of weekend shows. Those were "Tears Are Falling" and "Rip It Out". The rest of the set was a classic collection of KISS cuts that brought smiles to many of the faces that I could see. Even people in the very back of the crowd were singing along with us. Danny really elevated his blood routine before "God Of Thunder" while Joe became engulfed in sulfur-infused smoke during his solo in "Shock Me". Andrew and I brought it again during "100,000 Years" as his tribute to Peter Criss' famous solo from KISS Alive! gave way to my interaction with the crowd for a climatic call and answer to close the song. We really made the most of the stage for this performance and the crowd was appreciative of all of our efforts.
Afterwards many fans came by our merchandise tent to say hello. As the others filed out we signed t-shirts and photos and even posed with a few fans that wanted something a little more special to take home. It's interesting to us even after all this time that we learn something new with every show in regards to improving what we give to you as fans. We're a little wiser after last nights show and we're grateful for it. To those that purchased a t-shirt or photo...thank you very much for your support. We really do want to thank everyone that came out and had a great time with us last night. We will never forget your enthusiasm. See you next year!!!
Blog Entry, 06.23.11
Duct Tape Festival
This past weekend had us return to Avon, Ohio for the annual Duct Tape Festival. Still fresh in our minds was our one and only performance at this same event three years ago. That night saw torrential rain chase many in the crowd away as the storm consumed the two hour time frame just prior to the show. This weekend would be completely different. Beautiful sunshine and temperatures in the 80's were the order of the day. It was time to rock.
We arrived at just about 3 PM. A great number of people were already taking in the rides and concessions that lined the midway. Our home for the night was a 16' x 20' stage set at one end of the midway. Once our load-in was completed we jammed a few songs to make sure that our PA and stage gear were in working order for the show. Everything was taking shape nicely so we took a short break for dinner and spent some time just relaxing near the stage.
I grabbed my camera and walked through the midway with my two sons, snapping off a few photos. There was a genuine excitement in the air with laughter and smiles on just about every face that I could see. We then started to make our way to the RV that was acting as our dressing room for the event. Danny, Joe and Andrew started their process a little before 6:30 and I joined them just after 7 PM. It's always interesting when we get ready in a motor home this way because when someone begins to walk around the entire vehicle shakes. So you have to be aware with your brush so that you don't end up redesigning the classic KISS make up design that you're used to creating. By 8:15 we were on our way to the stage. The demons of three years ago were soon expelled as a great crowd was waiting for us to hit the stage. The temperature began to fall and the night couldn't have been more perfect. We filled the night air with one KISS classic after another. Joe, Andrew and I were still riding a good high from the previous night after having traveled to Pittsburgh to see Ace Frehley in concert. As is the case with most crowds that we perform for there is a slight hesitation for them to really let loose at the show. So I invited the children to come up as close as they wanted while the parents joined them or watched from behind. As the sun faded to black we gave it everything we had. Most of the crowd remained throughout our entire performance. We played very well, if only the PA would have cooperated with us but it's only rock 'n roll...right?
After the show we met with fans to sell a few t-shirts and to take photos with those that wanted them. We were thrilled with the turnout and so was the festival committee. That is how we gauge success at an event. Our good fortune with our summer stretch of shows is kicking into high gear. This weekend it's back-to-back nights in Garrettsville and Brunswick, Ohio. Thanks to everyone that attended the Duct Tape Festival, we had a blast.
Blog Entry, 06.12.11
Commercial Pointe Homecoming
You ever see the movie Forest Gump? Remember the line "life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you're gonna get"? That was what I felt as yesterday unfolded for us. I woke up at 6:30 AM to begin preparing my gear for the trip and to pack up the truck. Unfortunately, I was feeling very ill and unable to even barely get out of bed. So everyone was notified of my plight and our plans were modified just a bit to accommodate me in order to save the show. In all the years that I've had this band I have only cancelled one show and that was when I had my appendix out a few years ago. So doing what I needed to do in order to make the 2 1/2 hour trip to Commercial Pointe, Ohio I got myself ready at the very last minute and we pulled out of Medina shortly after 12 noon.
This being our first festival performance of the year we were thrilled to have the weather cooperating for us. With as much rain as we've been having we had heard that it was in the forecast later in the day. Thankfully it never came. We arrived by mid-afternoon and once again the work ethic of everyone involved with MR.SPEED went into action. I was unable to help at all. As a matter of fact I soon found myself in the back of an ambulance with an IV in my arm replenishing my body with fluids. I was also shocked to find out that my blood pressure was dangerously high so as a precaution I was ordered to rest while the show was set up. Everyone really stepped up their responsibilities and showed why we're a great band. It's not only the music but the people that make up MR.SPEED that make the difference. By 4:30 PM I was pulled from the front seat of my truck for our sound check. We ran through "Rip It Out", "Nothin' To Lose" and "Deuce". I was feeling better and our show time was drawing near. We completed our sound check and left the fair grounds to check into our hotel. We had a quick dinner and soon began to prepare with our make up.
Each one of us got ready in our own rooms and met up for the short drive back at 8:15 PM. Once back at the fair grounds we met with a few fans for photos as the stage was prepared for our arrival. Dusk was fading away as the horizon was covered with a cool nighttime blackness. In advance of our show a fireworks display lit up the mid-Ohio sky with a brilliant array of colors. As beautiful as they appeared in the sky we were reminded of their inherent danger as embers fell all around us. Joe had to extinguish a smoldering piece of debris as it landed on the roof of his car and smoldered. Even the roof of the stage was damaged when falling debris burned a hole in the material resulting in a $1000 loss for the pyrotechnics company. As the lasting echoes of the display faded into the nighttime air we began our show. The crowd was kept a safe distance away due to the use of multiple pyro effects that were being used during our show. This made it difficult for us to interact with the crowd like we're used to. It didn't however keep them from letting us know they were there. With each and every song their response grew louder and louder. I would periodically shield the stage lights with my arm to make sure that they were still out there. We kept the set list "classic" for the entire show. We opened with "Deuce". Joe gave it his all during "Shock Me" even with his guitar failing to smoke during his solo. Danny stepped to center stage to begin "God Of Thunder" with gobs of crimson saliva and blood splattering all around his dragon-faced feet. Andrew kept the rhythm strong by beginning his drum solo with the use of his hands and not his sticks ala John Bonham. For a moment we thought that we would have to cut our set short but the response from the crowd allowed us to finish the show with "Rock And Roll All Nite" in true show stopping fashion. We actually declined the use of the final pyro effects in order to allow the fans to surge up to the stage and enjoy a closer look so that we could all feel the energy being created.
After the show we met with many fans for photos and autographs. We were thrilled that we were able to pull the show off. I was especially grateful for not having to cancel our performance and the fact that I found it within myself to give it everything that I had regardless of how I felt earlier in the day. We love what we do and what kind of inspiration would I be to my bandmates and the fans if I had let my weaknesses overcome my strengths. That's not who we are. That's not what we believe. That's not KISS.
Blog Entry, 06.04.11
My how time flies when you don't have any shows. Not having any performances in the month of May we spent time getting away and also preparing for our summer schedule to kick into gear. Last night at the Sly Fox we began a five week stretch of gigs that will take us into the July 4th holiday. We usually prefer not to book any club shows during the summer months but we're really not in the business to turn work down either. So the Sly Fox wanted another dose of classic KISS and we took it to them.
As expected the turnout for our show was lighter than we normally find. We weren't concerned though because we knew that the crowd that would be there would be ready to rock. I've heard that good things come in small packages and last nights crowd made us feel right at home. We opened with "Modern Day Delilah" into "Shout It Out Loud". Typically when we rehearse we try to work on the tempos of each song so that they stay consistent. But more often than not once we hit the stage our adrenaline kicks in and we pick up the tempo more than we would like. With that being said we had to add a few extra songs into the first set. Songs on the more obscure side were "Fox On The Run" from Ace's "Anomaly" release. We also added "Mr.Speed" and "Shandi" ala Paul's version from the 1996-97 Reunion Tour in Australia.
During our break we met with a good number of fans and shared stories of shows gone by or KISS memories that came to mind. Even with the smaller crowd there were familiar and new faces mingling in the bar area. A couple of guys from an Iron Maiden tribute as well as a Metallica tribute decided to catch the show so it was cool chatting with them for a short time. The second set kept the pace going with classics like "100,000 Years" and "Love Gun". Those that remained moved closer to the stage as the set came to a close. We really love playing this venue and want to thank Scott for inviting us back to rock for him on his birthday for the 5th straight year. I'd also like to thank him for the special attention paid to our dressing room. He wanted to play a practical joke on Joe, Andrew and Danny by setting up a special area for me to get ready. He had tipped me off to it the last time that we were there but I had forgotten about it. So when we showed up the guys wanted to film my reaction. They dragged me into the dressing room which is really about the size large walk-in closet and when I saw the set up it all came back to me and I laughed out loud. I'm not sure if the other guys were put off by the treatment that I was receiving but it was all in good fun.
Here's to our upcoming run of shows. We'll hope to see as many of you as we can at one or more shows very soon. Thanks and keep rocking!
Blog Entry, 05.01.11
Last night we made our triumphant return to the east side of Cleveland. We had not performed on this side of the city in almost 2 1/2 years. It's a territorial thing that is unusual to say the least but that's a whole nother story. The club is the new Live Wire Lounge which before that was Jimmy's which before that was the Funky Frog which before that was the Thirsty Camel which before that was the Backstreet Cafe and so on. Early rumblings on the internet were that this place is still attracting good crowds for their shows and we were hopeful that our show would keep that streak alive.
Having played the room before a few times we knew what to expect. We also knew that we had to scale our back line down just a bit to fit what we could on the stage. This stage is set up more like a rock and roll show with it being 3' feet above the floor. In a perfect world we could bring our entire show into each and every club that we perform in but that's just not possible. We also have to make adjustments at times when it comes to the dressing room. Most places seldom see a band like ours and the conditions aren't always the most ideal for us getting ready. But we make the most of it. We conducted our sound check shortly after 8 PM and then took a few moments to catch our breath before we disappeared for make up. The sound system in the room was pumping out Bob Seger and ELO while we transformed ourselves into our onstage personas. The crowd began to grow with each passing minute and the sound began to swell within the room. By 10:15 we were putting the finishing touches to our costumes and a few moments later we headed downstairs towards the stage. Our mood was extremely positive and we knew that a good show was a few feet away.
We hit the stage to a low roar from the crowd. Everyone was standing in anticipation of what they were about to see. Some were more cautious than others and we expect that. Our intro faded and we hit the gas with "Modern Day Delilah". Not much from our set list would change between our Rivers & Spires show and this show. We knew for the next two hours that we would have to deliver a solid offering of classic KISS that would keep everyone in the room entertained. At first the crowd response seemed to be a bit subdued but as with most shows the crowds emotions eventually let go and they were really connecting with the four of us on stage. Joe's guitar teased the crowd with just a brief burst of smoke during "Shock Me". Danny's blood routine during "God Of Thunder" dripped a respectful nod towards the Demon himself. Andrew extended his drum solo in an effort to entice the crowd into a tribal call and response. Many of the dedicated stood toe to toe with us right through the last three songs. We even took time to witness an engagement between two fans just after "Beth". This was certainly a moment that we had not seen before at one of shows but can now cross off the list. Any gas that was left was certainly used up during "Rock and Roll All Nite". Typically the crowd lets it all hang out during this song and tonight was no different. I took center stage on a platform out front for a call and answer section that really did give me chills. After the song ended a few fans chanted "encore, encore, encore" but we were content to leave them wanting more.
I was approached after the show by the owners asking if we could bring our show in once a month! Well...that's not possible but we were flattered by the compliment. All indications are that we will return to the Live Wire before years end. We'll look forward to creating even better memories with each return performance and hope that you will continue to be a part of it.
Blog Entry, 04.17.11
River & Spires
In the blink of an eye it was over but what a memory we created. I'm talking about our first visit to the beautiful state of Tennessee and the town of Clarksville. Our excitement grew throughout the day on Wednesday knowing that we were leaving right after work for our trip. After 5 hours on the road we stopped in Clarksville (how ironic, don't you think), Indiana to rest for the night. Early the following morning we were up and on the road by 9 AM to finish the drive into Clarksville, Tennessee. This was a unique experience for us seeing as we haven't been this far from home for a performance in quite some time. Upon arriving in Clarksville we discovered a strong sense of pride within the community. That pride is the result of the 101st Airborne Division that resides just up the road from where we performed at Fort Campbell, KY. Many of the soldiers stationed there are currently in or have recently come home from their tours of duty in Iraq & Afghanistan.
We pulled up to the stage and what a stage it was. Shows like this one make us feel as though we have arrived if you will, a far cry from the Sly Fox and the Front Row shows of recent memory. A giant stage with tremendous lighting and sound equipment that allowed us more than enough room to work the crowd and present our show the way that we really intend for it to appear. All of us began setting up the show right away. I met with Al Pichot who was our contact for the event and also the crew that would help us to recreate our show for the crowd later that day. The weather was gorgeous with 75* and more sun than we had seen in quite some time. By 3 PM we were beginning our sound check. We could feel the excitement building as we settled behind our instruments to make sure that everything was ready to go. We ran through "Modern Day Delilah", "Deuce", "Nothin' To Lose" and "Fox On The Run" in an attempt to get things just right. Immediately following our sound check we moved into the basement of an adjacent building for dinner prior to our make up call at 5 PM.
In the dressing room we organized our costumes and materials to our liking in order to begin the transformation. All of our accommodations for this event were first class and it was truly a welcomed change from the beer rooms that we seemed to be getting used to. We had a meet and greet scheduled for 7 PM so we were able to take just a little extra time to get things just right. As the sun began to set and the crowd began to form we moved from the dressing room to the right of the stage for a quick meet and greet with a few fans and local officials. All of this was extremely well organized and we were grateful. After about 15 minutes or so we disappeared into the dressing room once again. The guys relaxed while I conducted an interview with a local newspaper that was covering the event.
Show time! We hit the stage at exactly 8 PM. We didn't realize it at first but the crowd that had gathered was the largest crowd on the opening night of this festival in their history! Close to 1,000 strong were pressed up against the barricade in front of the stage. Many were wearing KISS make up and sporting KISS t-shirts. The setting was perfect. We took control of the stage and never looked back. Song after song was met with heartfelt applause. I could see smiles on many of the faces that were staring at us and we did everything that we could to keep them there. Complete darkness fell over the stage and the vibe between the crowd and the stage grew even stronger. For 90-minutes we did our very best to make sure that this crowd would remember us long after the last note of the show was played. Some of the highlights were Andrew's version of "Beth" and Joe's smoking guitar solo during "Shock Me". From my vantage point on stage left they appeared to be capturing the true spirit of what our show can be and the crowd loved them. As we came to the end of the show I made a very special dedication to the troops that were there and even to the ones that were not there in appreciation for their commitment to our great country. It was fulfilling for me to be able to do that on this night as I do with each show knowing that there is such a sense of pride within the community for their military presence stationed there.
After the show we met with a good many fans to sign autographs and take photos. One soldier approached me and thanked me for coming to the festival and performing like we did. He had returned the previous week from a tour in Afghanistan and was able to spend some quality time at our show with his wife and two children. It meant a lot to me to speak with him and I know that what we did touched him deep inside. We then began the unenviable task of dismantling the stage and loading out for our trip home the next day. Soon we were back at our hotel and fast asleep for a few hours. We knew that very soon we would back on the road to return home on Friday and that time would not be on our side. Heavy rain poured down from the Kentucky skies as we headed home on Friday morning. It slowed us down for a bit but we were determined to get there. We arrived home safely just after 7 PM. We were very thankful.
Thank you to everyone that we met at the River & Spires Festival and the town of Clarksville, Tennessee. You gave us a memory and an experience that we will not soon forget. We will look forward to returning there someday and we hope to see you all once again.
Blog Entry, 04.10.11
Front Row Bar & Grill
It appears as though winter is finally behind us. Very soon summer will be here and our tour schedule will kick into high gear. With that being said we were eager to hit the stage at the Front Row Bar & Grill last night in Brook Park, Ohio. We typically visit this venue twice during each year with this date being the first of those two dates. The weather was incredible and our spirits were high...it was time to rock!
We arrived shortly before 6 PM and had everything ready to go just after 7 PM. We grabbed a quick bite to eat and then completed our sound check to make sure that musically we were ready to go. Usually I run my guitar through a wireless system that I have become very accustomed to. However, this night would prove to be a challenge for me as I was experiencing tremendous interference from something within the club. I had to run directly into my amp to eliminate the static and buzzing noise that had become increasingly prevalent. With that minor detail taken care of we commenced with our make up and pre-show preparation.
Just like last week at the Sly Fox our dressing room at the Front Row also doubles as the "beer room". There is quite a bit more space but that doesn't always mean that the club is ready for us when we arrive. So we had to remodel just a bit to make the accommodations just a bit more satisfying and believe me I'm stretching the truth here. Show time was quickly approaching and we were ready to go. A good crowd met us just before 10:30 PM with our intro CD paving the way for "Modern Day Delilah" into "Shout It Out Loud". We changed things up just a bit in our set list from last weeks show. Gone was "I Was Made For Lovin' You" and in was "C'mon And Love Me" and "Got To Choose". The majority of the set remained the same and our energy level was higher with the help of crowd that cheered us on. Many familiar faces were mixed amongst the few that had not ever seen us before. Some fans stood right in front of us while others chose a safer distance to enjoy the show. During our break we mingled throughout the crowd. On more than one occasion I had someone tell me that they loved that we played "Fox On The Run" from Ace Frehley's "Anomaly" release. To be honest it really is a fun song for us to perform. We also added "Heaven's On Fire" on the spot when one fan in particular requested it rather passionately.
The show ended just about 1:50 AM. We seemed to play a little longer than normal but in the end it was all good. Everyone seemed to have a good time. We unveiled our brand new mens tee shirts at the show as well. We tested the waters with a different design and we're anxious to see how they are received by the fans as our schedule picks up steam. We've also had discussions about the possibility of putting out a calendar for 2012. I'm excited about the opportunity and if we can do it right it will be a lot of fun for all of us to be involved with.
Thanks to everyone that came out to see the show in person last night. Without your continued support we would be a memory and a dream that didn't see its true realization. Thankfully we don't have anything to worry about. As long as you keep coming out to the shows we'll keep giving you our best. Together we are one.
Next stop...Clarksville, Tennessee!
Blog Entry, 04.03.11
If time flies when you're having fun then the past 5 months have been a party for us. Not having been to the Sly Fox since November we were thrilled to be going back on Saturday night once again. This would be Danny's first performance here and our first club show of our 2011 schedule that is just about to heat up. All indications were that we were going to have another solid performance and set the wheels in motion for an action packed month of shows. However, something happened on the way to the dressing room...
We hit the stage just before 10:30 to a packed house. What a feeling for us to return and find so many KISS fans waiting for our show. So we ripped into "Modern Day Delilah" which has become our new opener. Everything seemed to be going great but all of sudden we lost Danny's bass rig and it seemed that we couldn't get back on track from that moment on. Sure, I'd love to be able to tell you that everything went according to plan but this is rock and roll and it's never perfect. People always tell us that we're too critical on ourselves but I believe that makes us better. Mediocrity is not something that we like to associate with our tribute and we strive to give our best every single time that we hit the stage. We tried to keep things together as the set pressed on but it just seemed as though if a costume piece wasn't malfunctioning then a piece of gear was. And if that wasn't enough maybe one of us missed on cue on stage or spit out a sour note in a harmony. I found myself longing for the last song of the first set which was "Goodbye" from Paul's 1978 solo album. It only seemed ironic that this song would prove to be the turning point for our night. We delivered a solid performance and I felt that my vocal performance was even better than the Indy KISS Expo a few weeks earlier. After the set concluded I pulled everyone together in the dressing room to clear the air...it worked.
We emerged from the dressing room with a new sense of confidence in what we needed to do. We spent a short time meeting with fans, taking photos with them and sharing stories. By 12:30 AM we were back on stage with redemption staring us right between the eyes. Maybe even feeling vengeful for what we felt we did to the fans in the first set. So we reached for our waists and pulled out our "Love Gun"! If ever a song seemed to jump start a set it was this one. Following that up with "King Of The Nighttime World" and "Deuce" gave us the shot of adrenaline that we needed. Each song seemed to elevate our energy level and by the time that we got "100,000 Years" we were back on track for sure.
Andrew and I took control of the stage and got the crowd completely on our side with the crowd participation section in the middle of the song which fueled the remaining tracks and pushed us to our limit. "New York Groove" and "Black Diamond" took us to another climactic end with "Rock and Roll All Nite". Those that remained were pumping their fists in the air and singing right along with us.
Exhilarated and exhausted from our first full club show in some time we left the stage victorious. Danny now has a much better idea of what he has in store for him and the experience should serve him well. We too found ourselves realizing that it takes a complete band effort to succeed at every single show. Tonight we were challenged and after stumbling in the beginning we found our footing and reached to summit...in true MR.SPEED-style. We'll see everybody next weekend at the Front Row Bar & Grill. Make plans now to join us...it's going to be a rock and roll party.
Blog Entry, 03.26.11
Indianapolis Expo Blog
Even though we put together a video blog for this event I wanted to fine tune the day just a bit more. And what a day it was. From start to finish the vibe in the room was electric. This was by far the largest turn out that I have personally seen at any Indy expo that we've been a part of. Fans from all over were in attendance and everyone was celebrating their love of KISS.
We arrived late on Friday night and set up our show. With very little sleep we awoke early on Saturday morning to prepare for the day ahead. After breakfast we put the finishing touches on our gear while waiting for the sound company to finish their preparation as well. We treated the VIP guests to our sound check with "Deuce" and "Goodbye" from Paul's '78 Solo album. We also brought 7 year old Logan up on stage to run through "Black Diamond" with him as we would be joining him later in the day as part of his eagerly anticipated performance.
There were lots of things to see from the many vendors that set up their collections throughout the room. I personally picked up both the Russian and Japanese picture discs of Paul's '78 Solo album. Andrew, Joe and I also snagged a very cool KISS track jacket from the Kissonline table. I took part in a few of the MC duties early in the afternoon by welcoming the fans to the event and orchestrating the costume contest. Joe kept himself busy throughout most of the day by offering face painting to just about anyone that was interested. It's always strange for me when I see so many young fans walking around with KISS make up on that looks so good. Then I realize that Joe is behind it all. Danny was very busy meeting with fans having never been a part of an expo before. We think he handled himself just fine. By 4 PM we left the ballroom to begin our make up and get into our costumes for the show. With our show time of 7 PM fast approaching we quickly took care of business back in our rooms. By 6 PM we were all back down in the ball room. Our first order of business was making sure that we grabbed photos with Bill Starkey, Eric Singer, Lydia Criss and John Corabi. After that we took the stage for an inspiring set of classic and seldom heard KISS tracks. We kicked things off with "Modern Day Delilah" into "Shout It Out Loud". From there we never looked back. Many tracks that we performed were in celebration of the classic KISS album Destroyer. The only two tracks that we didn't perform were "Sweet Pain" and "Great Expectations". We tried to mix in something for everyone. The highlight of the show for me was performing "Goodbye" from Paul's Solo album. We really put time and energy into rehearsing it and you can even see the end result on Youtube right now. Another highlight of our set was Andrew's version of "Beth". For this he invited Lydia up on to the stage. The two of them wrapped an arm around each other while many seized the moment by snapping photos of the moment to remember. As the song came to an end Danny, Joe and I walked out to join them in homage to when the band joined Peter on the Paul Lynde Halloween Special back in 1976.
After the show we took many photos with fans and soaked up the kind remarks that even more of them had to say. I took a few moments to meet with Eric McKenna of Boogie Street Guitars. Eric let me pose with a few of the pieces that he had on display and I was only too happy to oblige. We also had the pleasure of meeting Eddie Balandas. Some of you may not know who he is so I will fill you in. If you've ever heard the introduction on KISS Alive II "You wanted the best, and you got the best...the hottest band in the world...KISS"! that's Eddie! He shared some amazing stories with us and even took part in our video blog which you can watch right after you finish reading this! Eddie was extremely kind and appreciative of what we are doing as a tribute to KISS. It really was a thrill to talk to him and hear some amazing stories from his working days with KISS.
After all was said and done the 2011 Indianapolis KISS Expo was certainly a day that we won't soon forget. It was a pleasure to have been a part of it and we most certainly will look forward to returning again next year.
Blog Entry, 02.19.11
Following our Friday night show in Toledo we headed about an hour south to Fostoria for another show on Saturday. This time we were at the Nest. An out of the way rock and roll room where a few hundred KISS fans were waiting for us to arrive.
We pulled into town early on Saturday morning and spent a good bit of the day relaxing in our hotel not far from the club. Around 5 PM we arrived to begin our load-in. Finding out that the stage wasn't going to accommodate our entire back line we stripped it down and utilized only what we could fit. We were excited about this new room and all that it had to offer. Another slight delay in our set up due to the fact that we wanted to hang our KISS sign behind the drums but we needed to reinforce the support that we chose with which to do this. When everything was ready to go we ran through "Deuce" and a new track from Paul's 1978 solo album that we're working on called "Goodbye".
After sound check we enjoyed dinner in the dressing room just off of stage right and relaxed with a few friends that came to see the show. The opening band did their very best to stir the beast within the crowd that was gathering for our first show in just a few hours. They were heavy and covered tracks from Metallica to Godsmack and Tool. Just before 11 PM we hit the stage with a repeat performance of the same set from the Toledo show the night before. We weren't sure how well we were going to be received but right from the very start the crowd got behind us and every subsequent song was met with an increase in the applause. There is always a little apprehension on our part when we enter a new room for the first time but tonights crowd reinforced for us that they were into what we were about. They were proud to be there with us and enjoyed every moment of our show.
Afterwards many of the fans came up to meet with us and expressed their appreciation for our show. Even our contact and employees from the club were gracious enough to compliment our efforts. What was interesting about this club is that they still allow smoking and as an entertainer this came as a complete shock to us. We haven't had to deal with that for a few years now and until you try to sing with that amount of smoke in the air you can't understand how it can work against you. As we loaded out into the cold darkness that surrounded the club the owner approached me and said that he loved the show and that we would be back...quite possibly in October. So we want to thank everyone that we worked with for all of their hospitality and we'll look forward to our return in the fall.
Blog Entry, 02.18.11
Time after time we accept an invitation to return to the Omni in Toledo, Ohio for a Friday night party. With each return trip the crowd never ceases to amaze us. We always feel at home when we're on stage at the Omni and that's due in great part to the passion of the fans that show up for each performance. Of all of the clubs that we take our show to the Omni crowd never lets us down.
We arrived at 3 PM and after a few delays with some of the sound gear and Danny's bass rig we were all set up and ready to go. So after a catered meal from a local restaurant we began our pre-show preparation. Tonight's show was the first of a back-to-back set of shows for us this weekend. As our third show of the year we were still working Danny into his new role as "Gene" in the band. So we started our make-up and listened to the opening band warm up the crowd for us as best as they could. In addition to our normal responsibilities we also took part in an interview for a local paper from Bowling Green, Ohio. So just before heading for the stage we conducted the interview and posed for a few photos. We'll have the link for the interview up on our site as soon as possible for everyone to enjoy.
As I mentioned another energized crowd met us at the stage for our return. But this time we decided to change the beginning of our show up by opening with "Modern Day Delilah" into "Shout It Out Loud". To be honest the reaction was quite mixed to hearing something from Sonic Boom open the show. However, following that up with something from Destroyer seemed to be just what uncaged the animal within the crowd. For the next two hours we did our very best to unleash our best sonic assault from the KISS catalog. Still working classic songs into our set meant that we had to save unmasked era songs such as "Crazy, Crazy Nights" and "Tears Are Falling" for another day. Still it didn't seem to matter to the fans there as long as we played tracks like "Calling Dr.Love" and "New York Groove". Tremendous gestures of the true spirit of rock and roll were abounding throughout the crowd. One fan in particular remembered that our last visit to the Omni was marred by one of our tee shirt displays along with the shirt being stolen. So he purchased a shirt for me to throw into the crowd for an unsuspecting fan to receive. He even went so far as to purchase a shirt for a wheel-chair bound fan named Jim who knew every word to every song that we played. That's what inspires us to continue to keep our tribute going.
Once again we'll look forward to booking our return date with the Omni for sometime in the fall. Thanks to everyone that came out and shared the night with us. We'll see you all soon.
Blog Entry, 01.23.11
Akron Civic Theater
Last night we made the most of an incredible opportunity. We kicked off the 2nd Annual Winter Rock Series at the beautiful and historic Akron Civic Theater. Not even the coldest day of the year so far with temperatures near zero could hold us back from giving everything we had.
We arrived at approximately 3 PM where we were met by the crew of the theater for load-in. A place like this is what every band dreams of. First class all the way and we savor every moment. Once inside we slowly assembled our set up. Standing up stage as our lighted KISS sign and banners were proudly put in their place for the show was awesome. It will be tough to match the on stage sound system that we used too. Having to carry a good bit of the vocal work for the band it's amazing when you have a system that sounded as clear as theirs does. Everything was in place and we ran through "Shout it out Loud" and half of "Calling Dr.Love". We couldn't have been happier.
After assembling the dressing room with all of our bins and personal items we left the theater for a quick meal. Upon returning we entered through the front door because we wanted to get a sense of what the fans would be seeing upon their arrival in just a few short minutes. A long walk down the main corridor opens up into a majestic lobby area that is guarded by a massive staircase. You can just feel the spirit of rock & roll swirling through the hallways of this place. We descended into the basement of the theater which some say is haunted by a janitor that used to work there many years ago. Pretty cool, eh? We immediately began our pre-show preparation. There was a little more of a sense of urgency at this time because Karen was with us and she was taking photos of us once again so that we could finally get Danny properly announced on the site. We'll have those images up for everyone to see very soon. After a short 15 minute photo session we ascended to the stage as the Alice Cooper tribute band "The Nightmare" was loading out. My pulse quickened as I turned from the elevator to the stage door but yet a calm fell over me too. Almost as if to say that this is what we have been waiting for. Let's rock this joint.
And rock it we did. Our classic set kicked off with "Detroit Rock City". As with most shows it took a few moments for the sonic attack to settle into our ears. Danny was having some slight problems with his bass but he soon worked that out. Not bad for a kid that just a few months ago was playing sports bars on the east side of Cleveland to now be slamming his bass on the stage of the Civic! Three of us were battling the effects of what ever has been going around this winter but it's pretty amazing what adrenaline will do. I immediately fell into the moment. An estimated crowd of approximately 500 were in attendance. Even though that was a far cry from a sell-out every one of them deserved our best. I have to give Joe the "gold star" for the night. Aside from breaking a string in "Love Gun" he really played well. For me his shining moment was "Modern Day Delilah". I really felt that we performed our set with a great sense of timing and effort. Unfortunately, we had to cut out "Beth" and "Black Diamond" due to union issues but that didn't deter the crowd from rising to their feet for "Rock and Roll All Nite" in true KISS Army fashion.
Immediately after the show we met with a good number of fans in the lobby to say "hello". To our surprise there were many new faces in the crowd at this show which is great for us. We love when we have the chance to reach new fans that have never seen us before. After the meet 'n greet we loaded out in the frigid temperatures and were home by 1:30 AM. What a day. A million thanks to Howard and all the great people at the Civic Theater. We are eternally grateful for the opportunity to perform at your theater. We will anxiously look forward to seeing all of you this summer on August 19th outside the Civic at Lock 3 Park for our Rock The Lock performance. DON'T MISS IT !
Blog Entry, 01.20.11
Akron Art Museum
Another year of shows are unfolding for us and tonight's stop is an unusual one. I've heard it said that rock & roll is sort of an art form in a way so we were about to find out. The Akron Art Museum was our stage on Thursday evening. We were the final act in a three month long celebration of rock & roll photography called "Who Shot Rock And Roll".
This show was going to be unique in a few different ways for us. One being that we have never performed in a museum before. Second, this would be the debut of Danny Ayala as our "Gene Simmons". So we came together shortly after noon for our load-in. The museum is beautiful. Very modern lines encased in glass which allowed us to perform in the lobby for a modest crowd of about 100 or so KISS fans. Sometimes we never quite know what to expect when we arrive at a venue and this place would present just a few minor challenges for us during our set up. With everything ready to go shortly after 5 PM we retreated to our dressing room to prepare. Earlier I mentioned the tremendous design of the building itself. Right inside the main lobby is an elevator. For those KISS junkies that know way too much about "KISS Meets The Phantom of the Park" the elevator quite eerily resembled the elevator that Melissa would descend in the movie in an attempt to find her boyfriend Sam. Actually, the image that now adorns our home page header was shot inside of that same elevator.
Our performance was musically very good. We kept things pretty safe as far as the set list was concerned throwing in "Rocket Ride" from KISS ALIVE II to spice things up a bit. Andrew and Joe were fighting off illnesses that allowed for Danny and I to push the envelope in regards to the vocals just a bit. Our space on stage was somewhat limited but the unique location of where we were allowed for some interesting images to be taken by Karen. All in all the performance was a great warm-up show for our next stop at the Akron Civic. We want to thank those fans that did brave the elements last night in order to be a part of our show. We'd also like to thank the staff at the museum for their generosity and kindness towards us. It really was a pleasure performing in your facility.
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