Monday, August 16, 2010

The Hottest Band in the World (Sort of)

Gene Simmons playing cardHad a fun weekend as Vera Valmore and I took off for a quick beach trip. Kind of spur of the moment, without much pre-trip planning. Got down there on Friday and after a nice dinner went for a stroll along the water where we were stunned to encounter a KISS tribute band rocking out on an outdoor stage.

We knew there’d be some sort of music going on there when we passed by the stage earlier on our way to dinner. In fact, Vera had read something somewhere back at the hotel about “KISS Army” playing at some point, though it hadn’t really registered with us that was where they’d be playing.

As we left the restaurant and walked a couple of blocks, we heard the driving beat of “Detroit Rock City,” and soon we were part of a crowd of what eventually became more than 500 enjoying the free show.

Like most kids of the ’70s, Vera and I both have a fondness for KISS, remembering the songs and albums as well as the nightmare they once represented to adults. I recall a teacher -- it was around fourth grade or thereabouts -- once warning me that KISS stood for “Knights In Satan’s Service” (no shinola). I also have a memory of seeing the band featured on the prime time news program “20/20” one time, the gist of the piece being an attempt to explain the phenomenon to older folks. (Here’s that report, from 1979, if you’re curious.)

Anyhow, the tribute band did not disappoint, uncannily recreating the KISS live show replete with the make-up, the fire, the blood, extended guitar and drum solos, and note-for-note reproductions of all the hits. The fellow doing Paul Stanley even introduced the songs following that same goofy script you hear on the live records: “Who here has a case of... rock ‘n’ roll pneumonia? Well... there’s only one cure! You know what I’m talking about...! I’m talking about DOCTOR LOVE!!!!”

Kiss Army on stageThe group probably played around 20 songs altogether, finally signing off with “Rock and Roll All Nite,” natch. Nobody seemed to mind the god-awful heat (90-plus degrees) and humidity (near 100%). In fact, the all-ages crowd totally ate it up. (Here’s the group’s website.)

The show actually made me think more than once about Las Vegas, with its many examples of “tribute” acts like the Elvis Cirque du Soleil show (“Viva Elvis”), Jersey Boys (the Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons show), and that Cheap Trick performance of the Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper Vera and I saw this summer. Also made think about the lives of the performers, and what it must be like to pretend you are someone else like that night after night.

Also thought a little bit afterwards about how in poker we sometimes kind of adopt various roles -- in some cases perhaps even imitating or borrowing the plays, actions, gestures, and so forth of other players we’ve seen (or whose books we’ve read).

On one hand, one could argue that every individual player’s style is in fact wholly composed of such borrowings, picked up here and there and ultimately shaped into the player he or she finally becomes. I remember reading someone once describe “personality” as simply a collection of repetitions, gathered via one’s experience and made one’s own.

Then again, one might say that there is no such thing (really) as “imitating” another player -- that is, in poker you can’t pull off an act like KISS Army does and perfectly reproduce, say, something you saw Phil Ivey do on “High Stakes Poker” or some move you read about in Harrington on Hold’em.

In other words, anytime one does “covers” (so to speak) at the poker table, the “original” becomes almost unrecognizable after being transformed into one’s own particular style.

Might be easier, I guess, if makeup were involved.

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Blogger Unknown said...


8/16/2010 2:36 PM  
Blogger Short-Stacked Shamus said...

Haha, awesome pokerpeaker. YOU WANTED THE BEST, YOU GOT THE BEST...!

8/16/2010 3:02 PM  

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