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A double-shot KISS weekend

Jill Cataldo

KISS fan, syndicated newspaper columnist, KISS fan, workshop instructor, KISS fan, mother of three, KISS fan, coupon queen, KISS fan.

KISS roared into Chicago on Friday and continued rocking Minneapolis the next night. And with two Midwest shows back-to-back, you can bet I wasn't about to miss either of them!

Chicagoland is home to me, so anytime the boys in makeup return to our area, you can find me there. I was very excited to learn earlier in the week that KISS was dangerously close to selling out the United Center, the largest venue they've ever played in Chicago.

After leaving the house around 3:30pm, we arrived at the United Center just before 6pm. Yes, you read that right... traffic was just that bad. So bad, in fact, that the band missed their own soundcheck trying to get from their hotel in the Loop to the United Center.

After arriving and getting my family situated in their seats (in a prime guitar-pick-catching zone on Tommy's side) I headed backstage to say hello to some friends and see what was going on. KISS was filming a news segment with a major network, and it was fun to watch the news crew following them down the hall from the dressing room to the stage. KISS had almost a week off from touring, and the rest must have rejuvenated the guys, as as they were walking to the stage, Paul was especially in good spirits, singing in the hallway, sauntering his way to the stairs under the stage!)

The United Center was packed to capacity, and the fans were on fire as well. The setlist had a few changes from recent weeks --I was sad to see "Say Yeah" dropped from the set and replaced with "Cold Gin." Though, when Paul started his stage banter about "needing something to pick you up... what's that?" The audience shouted a surprise. Their typical response, of course, is "Cold Gin..." but in our seat section, many were instead yelling "SAY YEAH!"

Another surprise: Gene's blood-spitting solo was done with the spotlight and bell toll, an absolute delight for fans. Previously, Philadelphia was the only show he'd done this at on this tour, but when the bell started ringing and the spotlight shined on our Demon, his face cringing in anger, the crowd just ate it up.

This show never gets old, no matter how many times you've seen it. This was my fifth on this tour (the band's 24th!) and it left me wanting more, more more. So, after the show, we didn't stay too late, as we wanted to sleep and get an early start on driving to Minneapolis to do it all over again...

Our three children in tow, we left Chicago around 8:00am to drive to Minneapolis. It's about a 5 1/2 hour drive, which actually isn't a bad little road trip. With a teenager and two preschoolers in the car, things are always interesting! We spotted this sign somewhere in northern Wisconsin:


Wisconsin Fun at the next exit? What kind of nondescript sign was this?! Did we risk abandoning the great drive time we were making to check this out?

Curiosity got the better of us. "Wisconsin Fun" turned out to be an Amish man with a horse and buggy selling handmade rugs at a gas station. My sons were actually disturbed that the horse was tied to a utility pole in a parking stall, "parked" like a car.

We continued driving to Minneapolis. When we were about a half-hour away, I received a text from one of our other KISS friends. "Hotel is warm. No A/C. Heat is automatically on Oct-May." Not the greatest news when it's 67 degrees in November. I laughed because one of our friends insists on cranking his room's thermostat down into the uncomfortably frigid zone...

We checked into our hotel, grabbed dinner, and headed to the arena. Our children were especially excited on this trip, and I've blogged about the sons and daughter's respective experiences here as well, as each are rather memorable.

Incredibly, the Minneapolis show was even better than Chicago. This statement alone is an incredible one to make after the amazing United Center show, but the band was tight, spot-on, and sheer sonic perfection. Among our circle of frequent-concert-going friends who have hit many shows on the current tour, New York's MSG show has been considered to be the best show to date... and this night was even better.

There were no setlist changes from Chicago (Gene continued his solo with the spotlight and bell toll) but the Minneapolis crowd was simply on fire. An energetic crowd has an amazing effect on any performer, and tonight KISS sucked that energy from the crowd and threw it right back at them, song after song. You could tell they were really, really enjoying themselves onstage tonight, which as a fan, is always fun to see.

After the show, our daughter spent an incredible night backstage with the band... while we returned to a balmy 76-degree hotel room. The room was so warm that I took a shower with cool water and wasn't cold...

After our friends and daughter returned from the show and we shared stories and a couple of late-night pizzas, everybody crashed. We regrouped for breakfast the next day with another family whose KISS kids are ages 5 and 3, so our boys were thrilled to have playmates to spend the next day with... at the Mall of America.

I have to confess, I was thoroughly underwhelmed with the Mall. It's just a mall. But the Nickelodeon Universe theme park inside was the bomb. It truly has something for everyone - toddlers through adults, including several large, great roller coasters. The kids had an amazing time there.

And, while this is not KISS related at all, I have to share one of the most amazing experiences that capped off our weekend. At the Nickelodeon Universe, there is a great attraction called The Flying Dutchman. It's a Sky Trail ropes course, which is an open-air rope climbing challenge over 50 feet off the ground. There are no nets - you wear a climbing harness, and a rope attaches you to the grid above you. You can climb freely, walking tightropes, rope bridges and balance beams -- it's incredible. Our daughter immediately wanted to do it.

What shocked me? Our usually-timid four year old wanted to too. I went with him, and let me tell you -- even knowing that there's a slack rope above you that will catch you if you fall...


Look at this. Over 50 feet in the air!

And another great KISS weekend drew to a close...



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