For the “KISS Army,” Saturday night was a historic moment as the band played its “final concert ever,” wrapping up the “End of the Road World Tour” at Madison Square Garden.
“KISS was born in New York City. On 23rd Street. Half a century ago. It will be a privilege and honor to finish touring at Madison Square Garden, 10 blocks and 50 years from where we first started,” the band said in a press release.
Fans from across the country — and world — queued outside the midtown venue in KISS merchandise and face paint.
Louis Otero, a Queens native, saw KISS’s first performance at Madison Square Garden in 1977. Saturday night’s performance was the 152nd KISS show he has attended, Otero said.
“This is really the end. No more touring. It’s heartbreaking,” he said.
Gary and Venus Milliken traveled from Surry, Maine, for the show. Collectively, the married couple has attended 45 KISS concerts, they said.
“All the pyrotechnics, the lights, just everything that they do on stage is mesmerizing, and it makes you want to see more and more,” they said.
The couple said they wanted to be a part of what they believe is KISS’ last tour: “We want to make KISS-tory, being here tonight for the very last show.”
Though the band has had many “farewell” tours, giving false impressions that the members are retiring, fans are convinced that this time they mean it.
Mike Mooney, a fan of the band since 1975, drove from Nova Scotia, Canada, because he believes Saturday’s show is “the last one.”
“Gene says he doesn’t want to be playing a concert sitting in a chair. He wants to go out on top, and that’s what they’re doing,” Mooney said.
Tributes to the bass guitarist and vocalist Gene Simmons were innumerable outside the venue — including Mooney’s full costume, replete with a wig, makeup and outfit.
Joey Spiotta sported a signed Simmons tattoo on his forearms. Spiotta went to his first KISS concert as a 7-year-old and has attended every tour except for one — which he missed due to a case of pneumonia.
“To be here for the last show in New York is priceless,” he said.
On Nov. 30, the band commemorated its grand return to New York by visiting the Empire State Building, officially proclaiming the day as “KISS DAY.” The building was lit with the band’s colors, and exclusive merchandise and memorabilia were available throughout Manhattan.
Many KISS fans have followed the band since its emergence, and they are passing on their love of the rock band to a younger generation.
Ralph and Chloe Strom, a father and daughter, traveled from Springfield, Massachusetts, to experience the concert together. Chloe Strom said most of her friends don’t know the band, but she likes how they express themselves.
The Wexlers, a couple from Brooklyn, brought their children, Ezra and Gabriel, to experience KISS since they are both musicians and “grew up on rock ‘n’ roll.”
Some fans said they believe the band will continue to perform in “some capacity” after the final tour date. Regardless, the turnout for KISS’ potentially final show was a sign that rock ‘n’ roll is still alive.
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