Over the Weekend: KISS, Daughtry, Pat Green, Drowning Pool, The Academy Is . . ., The Envy, Revengeance at Pizza Hut Park

KISS, Daughtry, Pat Green, Drowning Pool, The Academy Is..., The Envy, Revengeance
Pizza Hut Park
Saturday, September 18, 2010

(Way) better than: getting drunk and watching KISS Meets the Phantom of the Park.

Billed as "The Hottest Show on Earth," the crowd that came out to Pizza Hut Park had plenty of space to walk around throughout the day. It was not until sunset--while Pat Green played--that a lot of people started to show up.

And, since KISS is meant for everyone these days, every kind of rock fan showed up: from parents to kids, the members of the KISS Army and non-members.

Still, by the time KISS arrived, the field and stands were surprisingly only half-full.

Blame Grapefest, the Plano Balloon Festival and Oktoberfest all happening this weekend, but, whatever, the turnout was what it was. And it didn't impact the band delivering the best kind of rock show possible. Those who braved the whole day and night came out got their money's worth with a relatively decent lineup of opening acts.

Taking stage shortly after 9--or rather, rising from the stage on a large platform over Eric Singer's drum riser--Paul Stanley, Gene Simmons and Tommy Thayer ripped through "Modern Day Delilah." Jumping from their latest album to their first album with "Cold Gin," there were plenty of fireworks, explosions and lights, as expected.

Paul Stanley's voice sounded pretty rusty at first, but it somehow smoothed out later on in the set. Always the mouthpiece for the band between songs, Stanley could get the crowd to do anything, from leading a cheer-off between one half of the crowd to other half, to getting the audience to say the Pledge of Allegiance as the band presented a check to a wounded service veterans' fund.

As for the set list itself, those who have followed KISS during the years with makeup on and without the makeup on came away very satisfied. Of course they played songs like "Detroit Rock City," "Firehouse" and "Deuce." But they also played songs like "Crazy Crazy Nights" and "Lick It Up."

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The crowd went wild over the various stage spectacles that KISS has done either since the '70s or the '90s--from Gene breathing fire to Gene spitting blood to a drum riser taking off like a space ship to Paul taking a zip line to the center of the audience--and have all been done plenty of times. But ask any die-hard KISS fan who has seen the band multiple times, and he or she would not complain about seeing that stuff again and again.

In the middle of the 21-song set, Eric Singer and Tommy Thayer got a chance to really show their stuff, proving they are definitely more than two guys brought into replace the egos and booze found in Peter Criss and Ace Frehley. After a well-received rendition of "Shock Me," Thayer and Singer jammed together, took solos and set off explosions together.

By the time the band called everything a night, two and a half hours had passed. Ending with "Rock and Roll All Nite" and with thousands of white confetti pieces shooting everywhere, fireworks went off behind the park as people filed out quickly.

The eight hours before KISS felt like a talent show, frankly.

Local metal act Revengeance kicked things off with a three-song set that seemed to owe plenty to early Megadeth and Iron Maiden. No thanks to a very limited sound coming from the P.A., the band came across rather soft and weak while they were clearly trying to get that metal crunch out. Drummer Vinnie Parma played with a lot of flash and made plenty of rock faces, recalling a certain viral video.

The Envy came out looking like pretty boys and they proceeded to play like pretty boys. Playing a mall-friendly version of poppy rock, the band could share a stage with Attack Attack! or The All-American Rejects. Once again, the P.A. made them sound pretty weak, but they weren't trying to rock the joint.

The Academy Is... has always seemed like a poor man's Taking Back Sunday, and their 30-minute set did nothing to prove that wrong. Frontman William Beckett had stage presence, but his fey voice and prancing didn't make him a Rock God. The crowd seemed to respond more to when Beckett announced that Tony Romo was on his fantasy football team. The cheers were much louder than any of the band's songs. What's that say?

Once Drowning Pool got onstage after four, the P.A. sound was greatly improved, thus giving the band a chance to really deliver. With a tall stack of amps and a fully-loaded drum set, the local metal legends inspired a mosh pit a few times. They played songs from the early days to the present, giving the crowd songs like "37 Stitches," "Feel Like I Do," and of course, "Bodies." As an added bonus, the band encored with a faithful rendition of Pantera's "Cowboys from Hell."

At 5:15, things didn't look so good; the venue was barely a quarter full. And what could have gone over like a lead balloon ended up being the best part of the show before KISS.

That's right, Pat Green was fantastic. Green came out with his regular wide grin and delivered 15 songs in an hour and a half. Kicking off with "Carry On" and five guys backing him up, he showed no hesitation or hostility for playing a rock show. The audience, interspersed with hardcore Green fans, cheered enthusiastically after every song. Cracking jokes and making quips between and during songs, Green took the whole show in stride. "Does this sound like country music? No, this is my music," he said halfway through.

Following Green was Chris Daughtry and his namesake band. The band seemed to move through the motions with their 14 songs. Playing slightly-tweaked versions of songs that regular Top 40 and Adult Contemporary radio listeners have heard plenty of times, Daughtry was predictable and safe. His cover of "Rebel Yell" was a nice touch though.

Critic's Notebook
Personal Bias:
My sister used to work with Pat Green at a Texas Tech bookstore.

By The Way: The first audience member I saw in KISS makeup was in Vinnie Vincent's design. I hope the dude wasn't expecting songs from Music from the Elder.

Random Quote: "We're not solving the energy crisis here tonight," Pat Green began. "We're just making drunk people happy tonight."

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