Jen Phillips photo
Luckily for any who have shared a Battle of the Bands stage with them, Springfield’s Humble Patients are also gracious winners. In just under two years of existence, the funky foursome that features three lefties (band member AJ Del Negro has his bass strung upside down to boot) has bested the competition in all three competitions it has entered.
“This one was pretty cool, playing the largest casino in the world and checking out some of the local flavor of Connecticut bands,” Del Negro declared after the Patients’ recent victory at the Scorpion Bar battle at Foxwoods – an honor which netted them some $500 in cash, radio play and the promise of a much coveted New Year’s Eve slot.
Speaking of local Connecticut flavor, New Haven’s Forget Paris proved fierce competition, winning the popular vote but losing out over all via ballots cast by guest judges. Look for more on both these bands in next week’s column, or visit the bands’ facebook pages (/forgetparisrocks and /humblepatients) in the meantime.
Moving from Humble Patients to “Dr. Love”: Gene Simmons and his brethren in majestic music-making KISS brought their Monster tour to Mohegan Sun August 10.
While the Crawler has been a card-carrying KISS Army member since his lunch box-toting youth, he must confess that, for the first time in more than three decades following the band, he truly arrived with at the venue with more apprehension than anticipation.
The entire affair certainly lacked the buildup of the much-ballyhooed reunion/farewell tours he had attended in the late ‘90s and beyond. It even lacked original personnel, with drummer Eric Singer and guitarist Tommy Thayer now donning Peter Criss’ “Catman” garb and Ace Frehley’s “Space Ace” get-up.
Sure, there have been a couple of fairly well received new studio efforts released in the space between. But would that really be enough to breathe life into a band many have since written off as a rock n’ roll kabuki-styled cadaver?
The short answer is “No.” But, ironically, what did seemingly resuscitate the “Rock ‘N’ Roll All Nite”-ers was something that they have steadfastly avoided since their inception.
When it comes to the concept of change, Kiss the band and its fans alike are only slightly more open than, say, the Amish. But on Aug. 10, KISS came armed with new toys (including an enormous robotic spider which, now that the Crawler thinks of it, more than slightly recalls those featured in the 1984 sci-flick Runaway that featured Simmons and Tom Selleck), a re-vamped setlist, and a new attitude in that founding members Simmons and Paul Stanley truly embraced and acknowledged Thayer and Singer.
By acknowledging the high-heel-wearing elephant in the room with shout-outs like “Go ahead, Tommy, show them what you can do!” and even leaving the stage so the two “newer” members could play in duo before launching into solos, the group showed that it’s comfortable with its new face….under the makeup, admittedly. While the loss of original six-stringer Frehley does come at a small price in terms of style and attitude, the truth is, Thayer is a damn good player himself and has been with the band almost as long as the Space Ace.
And anyone who saw some of the final reunion performances with Criss knows that the “Catman,”drumming-wise, was on his ninth life.
With permission from their “General,” Stanley, to look behind the curtain and see that Frehley and Criss are not there, the Army seemed equal parts liberated and re-energized. When a performance of anything after 1996 would normally have triggered a cattle-call to the men’s room, newer tracks like “Hell or Hallelujah,” “Say Yeah” and “Psycho Circus” stood shoulder to shoulder with core live tracks “Love Gun,” “Detroit Rock City” and “Shout It Out Loud,” replacing road-tested rockers like “Deuce” or the chart-scoring ballad “Beth” without lament.
At the climax, a panting Stanley pronounced, “Thank you, Mohegan, we gave you everything we got tonight!” in his patented rock howl.
As the Crawler noticed the lines soaked with sweat and blurred with makeup on the faces of the 61-year-old frontman and the 63-year-old Simmons whilst shuffling through inches of confetti on the floor as the scent of gun powder wafted out into the casino, one thing was clear: whatever you think of the band’s musical abilities, there was no denying the veracity of the statement.•
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