Event: Kiss, January 1997

Location: Mt. Smart Supertop, Auckland

Sometimes the things you do to see a concert are ridiculous. This was one of those. And although you enjoy the concert the only memories are of the unfortunate events that surround it. And when me and my brother saw Kiss there were plenty of thoseŠ

Prime seats for the ''Reunion Tour'' were $85 each. A small price to see one of your favorite bands, right? But then there are other things to consider, such as travel to a city a good seven hour car trip away. Being cheapskates we chose the worst route possible: a bus trip. We left on a Wednesday morning, scheduled to return on Sunday. This meant a ten-hour ride in the middle of summer in a stuffy non-air-conditioned bus. Not wanting to sit near anyone, we sat at the back. At one point a strange fellow sat in front of us and tried to strike up a conversation. We ignored him. Moments later he asked to be dropped off at a point where there were no signs of life, just bush and tussock. As we left him I looked out the back window to see him standing there, on the verge of chasing the bus down. Perhaps he had made a mistake. But it was too late.

I resumed the rotation of Gary Moore's ''Run For Cover'' on my walkman. We ended up in Auckland at 9pm, a good 12 hours after we left. Tired and angry we struggled to locate our hostel. When we found it, we discovered we had made another mistake. For four nights we paid over $200 for a room which contained one bed. I took the mattress, my brother the bed. Right over the street was a bar which played live music until 3am as loud as possible. But we were in the heart of Auckland's inner city. So much to see and do right? Not really. Over the next four days we spent over $500 on CD's and tapes at Real Groovy, Auckland's premier record store. It got to the point where I had to hide my face from the sales clerks, ''didn't I see that guy yesterday and the day before?'' At night we frequented the mean streets of the city, taunting homeless bums and winos. We wasted time watching such classic movies as ''Michael Collins'' and ''Hunter And The Darkness.'' All just to see Kiss. The concert took place on a Friday evening. The temperature that evening was close to 105 degrees and for the first and only time I wore shorts to a concert. As we waited for the bus to take us to the venue, we dreaded the thought of how to get back later. The venue was a good 20 miles or so out of town. I tried not to think about it. A crowd gathered waiting for the same bus.

Wait a minute, look at this! It's a reject dressed like Ace Frehly, except he weighs 290 pounds! The crowd, amused, stares and laughs. It wasn't the last time we would see ''Ace'' that night. The ride there takes forever. Some chump behind us blows bubblegum. Got to control myself, don't turn around and punch him. We get there. It took nearly an hour. Who knows how we will get back? A line has gathered. We wait. A shirtless German (yes you have read this before) yells obnoxiously while holding a copy of ''Love Gun.'' For what, I have no idea.

The sun is relentless. My brother complains of a headache already. The concert doesn't start for another three hours. But then the gates open. As always, fools run in as if the show had already started, simply to be up front. As deluxe ticket holders we play it cool. We have time. Hungry. How about a $6 mince pie, $2 moro bar and a $3 can of Pepsi? There is not much choice. We sit and stare at the freaks. We spot ''Ace.'' His face paint has melted. Look it's Kevin Smith from ''Hercules,''our ''finest'' sex symbol. He is wearing a leather chest showing off his ''physique'' wondering how he can get backstage. Someone calls him a ''fag.''

Then there's some guy with 80's trainers complete with black skin-tight jeans and an orange curly-haired mullet. Where do they come from? And there's ''Ace'' again. He looks drunkŠ and lost. Instead we opt to look at the former Mt. Smart Stadium and relive the All Whites finest moments remembering the day Gazza and Beardsley took them apart.

But then there is music. However, it is The Exponents, an horrific homegrown act. So we wait outside some more. But half an hour later the curtain falls and it's time. We push our way up the front next to the people who ran up there four hours ago. There is not much to say about the gig. It's the same show Kiss always put on. Except this place is so piss poor; there is not enough room for Gene Simmon's flying routine or Peter Criss' drum riser. The bass is too loud and the sound quality is appalling. My brother has collapsed in a heap in some corner from his headache and suddenly I'm wondering why this cost $85.

Soon it is over. We get out fast to find a taxi. Got one! And gee it only cost us $40 to get back to our crap hostel. We go to Burger King. All I hear are complaints of a headache. I try to sleep. Tepid band over the road makes it impossible. We have to get out of this place. Desperate, I phone up Air New Zealand at 4:30am to try and get tickets out of Auckland. No luck. We decide to stick it out for one more day. That day I read a review of the gig. Apparently there were only 5,000 people there. No wonder nobody ever comes here. That night, loud band and all, we crash in our room. We couldn't take any more.

We arrived home the next day after an equally insufferable trip back. I had taken some sickness pills which had caused drowsiness and hallucinations. Once home we try to listen to some of the music we bought. I fall asleep in the blink of an eye instead. It's nice to be home.

Uploaded to The Zephyr Online May 1, 2001

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