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A promotional image from the 1974 self-titled KISS album cover shoot

A promotional image from KISS's 1974 self-titled album cover shoot

Remembering the KISS concert

February 7, 2014 — 

Winnipeggers had never experienced anything like them before; half of the audience jeered and threw things at the stage, the other half loved it and screamed adorations, but no one really knew who or what they were – the concert wasn’t advertised and tickets were free. It was Feb. 8, 1974. Feminists were protesting outside and inside Taché Hall, Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley and Peter Criss walked on stage to perform one of their first shows as KISS. They were unknowns and unknowingly on the brink of enduring international stardom. Winnipeg and the University of Manitoba were now a part of glam rock history.

Frank Weipert promoted the concert, but he didn’t run any advertisements because no one knew who KISS was so there was no point. The concert was part of the University of Manitoba’s The Festival of Life and Learning, a popular five-day celebration featuring many concerts.

“I wanted to do something different for the festival because a lot of the acts were safe, traditional folksingers and jazz and rock acts. I’d never heard KISS’s music before,” Weipert told Ken Sharp, author of Nothin’ To Lose; The Making of KISS 1972-1975.

The hall was packed.

When the curtain flew up to reveal the stacks of amplifiers and KISS walked out, “everybody in the audience looked in absolute amazement,” Weipert recalls.

“There was no apathy. Half of them were horrified – there were some beer cans that went flying to the stage—and the other half were like, ‘This is the most amazing thing I’ve ever seen.’ I was shocked no fights broke out in the audience,” Weipert says.

Alumus Ron Romanowski [ExEd/89] was there and he shared his recollections with UM Today.

“I saw KISS perform at Taché Hall so long ago that it seems as only a wisp of memory until I think about the event for a while. KISS was very loud (of course) and their make-up seemed outrageous at the time. I [imagined] they were evil clowns from the circus armed with electric guitars as weapons.

But another equally amazing event at the concert for me was what happened outside the doors before we got in. There were female protesters marching with placards decrying the sexist lyrics of the band and their depiction of women.

So over the years KISS has become a top-selling band, really, a big American business. And the modern Feminist movement, of which that protest years ago was a part, has become a revolution which continues to alter the world. And I experienced the meeting of these disparate social currents clashing so many years ago at old Taché Hall.”

It was KISS’s fourth show of their first tour (here was the setlist) and according to student and concert-goer Bill Fry, “Winnipeg greeted Glam with the usual boorishness that Winnipeg is famous for.”

The Manitoban reporter Bob Harrison was not at the concert but shared his thoughts on the genre, and the band. His “So you want to be a rock n roll star?” article, published on Feb. 11, 1974, itemized the goods a person needs to be a rock star, including “4 guitars (each retaining an unmistakably poor, out of tune, screeching tone),” and “10 lbs of Elizabeth Arden cosmetics.”

As he summarized, “It’s pretty easy to be a rock star. You don’t need talent. Just money.”

UM Today tried to track down Bob – or Robert – Harrison to see if he enjoys the music of KISS today, but we were unsuccessful. So Bob, if you’re reading this, please let us know if you ever opened up to glam rock and the music of KISS. Perhaps you don’t rock and roll all night or party every day, but do you at least find a few daily minutes to shout it out loud?

And if you, dear reader, were also at the show, please share your memories with us.

After Harrison’s article ran, two Letters to the Editors were published, as well as an Editor’s Response.

KISS off, 1974

Letter to the Editor, The Manitoban, Feb. 14, 1974

Letter to the Editor, The Manitoban, Feb. 14, 1974

 

Kiss Off Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor, Feb. 14, 1974

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11 comments on “Remembering the KISS concert

  1. Bob Mann

    Well I was there and the reason that there was any heckling at all was that Kiss were just not very good. Once the entertainment factor of the costumes, pyrotechnics and general atmosphere wore off, they were just another so-so, loud and boring rock band.
    I left after 4 songs. Mood Ja Ja, on the other hand, were excellent.

    Reply
  2. eddie birkett

    My Buddy and Roommate Brent Alverez went .

    He returned a bit early but wasn’t the best of it.

    Came home swearing about the evil band,makeup ,sound , lewdness especially the bass player .

    alas he tried to intervene by by running on stage to shout into Genes mic how no bodey should listen to this crap lol

    all the things kiss went on to be famous for

    lol they kicked him out and escorted off grounds by security

    true story he got shook up bad

    Reply
  3. Oliver

    I was there and I recall this… To be fair to Kiss, most of the audience came to see Mood Jga Jga at UMSU, but the show was moved to Tache Hall at the last minute. When we got there, there wasn’t any warning about Kiss, who nobody really ever heard of, and the pairing of Mood Jga Jga and Kiss was like night and day. We were shocked by the raw volume and crudeness of Kiss. They weren’t very good either, and I remember some people in the audience actually vomiting. After all, we came to see Lenny Breau and Mood Jga Jga. There was plenty of LSD being done that night, but Kiss and acid do not mix.

    Reply
  4. Gord Osland

    Mood jga jga finished playing this gig at Tache Hall and we went up into the fly house to watch Kiss. Imagine our surprise when the guitar player came running out from his amp to do a solo centre stage and he fell off his platform boots. Kiss was just learning how to walk in these goofy shoes apparently. The roadies ran out to pick him up but had to hold on to him so he wouldn’t fall over. To Stanley’s credit, he just kept playing all the way thru this little gong show. He spent the rest of the set propped up against his amp. We just thought it was part of the act. We laughed so hard we nearly puked. Mood jga jga agreed there was no way that Kiss was ever gonna make it past playing in school gyms. Thats why Kiss is in the RnR Hall of Fame today and MJJ is posting comments on the UofM website. Oh yeah.

    Gord Osland
    Drummist, Mood Jga Jga

    Reply
  5. Joan

    I was there that night too – a girl from Mary Speechly! Like everyone else I didn’t know who Kiss were, but obviously, they did leave a big impression on all of us – as we do remember them! They were so different from what we in conservative little U of M were used to. And so we remember that night. It was loud, different and unforgetable. I didn’t go on to be a fan, but I’m pleased to have seen them in their very early days. (Don’t recall the LSD, just the beer!)

    Reply
  6. D. Mitchell

    Gotta love it. KISS went on to become one of the most Iconic rock bands in history, selling over 100 million albums and were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

    41 years after this concert, they are still packing stadiums and arenas around the world. I just tried buying tickets to their Verona, Italy show at the amazing Verona Arena that was built in 30 AD. Unfortunately, it was already SOLD OUT.

    Reply
  7. Robert Harrison

    I was BOB Harrison
    Now im
    Robbie or Robert

    My (non) review was meant to be humourous
    “Glam” or Metal fans have always failed
    to understand humour

    My piece was a not too shabby
    piece of whimsy that probably
    holds true today Hello Spinal
    Tap!!

    Im now an old retiree
    With 4 guitars a
    Banjoguitar and electronic drums

    I like classic heavy stuff
    But still think KISS lacks “IT”

    Reply

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