The inner child who was blown away by KISS Alive got the better of me. I decided to pull the plug and purchase the Gene Simmons’ Vault Experience in St. Louis on February 25. I talked to people who went to the first event in Los Angeles and said it was well worth it yet something still did not feel right. I struggled with the fact I was shelling out $2,000 for 11 CD’s of music and I had no idea if it was good or bad. A lot of the songs are different recordings of songs I already own. In fact, I played “Man of a 1,000 Faces” and “Only You” for some casual KISS fans asking how much they would pay for different versions and the answer was “nothing”. Then I told them about Gene recording with Eddie Van Halen and they still said “nothing”. I can’t lie. My heart sank but what the hell do they know? They aren’t the KISS fans that I am. Besides, I met Gene three times and each one was a great experience. The first was free, while the third and best one was around $20. Then there was the official meet and greet during the tour with Def Leppard, which was well worth it and a few hundred dollars less than the Vault Experience.
I live near Chicago and Gene is scheduled to come here ON MOTHER’S DAY WEEKEND ! My wife wouldn’t be very happy taking a back seat to Gene Simmons, especially since this is my oldest son’s senior year on the Santa Clara University Baseball team and he will present her with flowers on the field before the game. Plus, I didn’t want to wait that long. Therefore, I made my purchase in St. Louis. I know the city well, have people I need to see there and could put the Vault in my car. Then, a few days after the purchase, my date was cancelled. I contacted the project manager who promptly told me to contact Warner Music, who told me I can attend another Experience, most likely the one scheduled on the 24th in St. Louis, the day before. Well, that date did not work for me plus I knew of a gentleman who decided to get his shipped and still had not gotten the Vault a month later. Therefore, I pulled another plug and told Warner to refund my money. So, here I am on the outside.
If you want to read two great reviews of the music, look for the one by Sonny Pooni and the one by Michael Cavacini. They seem to be the most objective. Actually, a gentleman named Almost Human on Youtube had the best review but took it down for some reason. Hmmmm.
The KISS fan and the music fan in me wrestles with the Gene Simmons’ Vault Experience on a daily basis. I can still drive to Cleveland or Nashville but logic tells me that something is not right with this whole thing. I will not disparage anyone who purchases this, for I still may and technically did yet the feedback from those who go all sound like religious fanatics. Seriously, if someone criticizes, they are castigated as if they are an apostate. I mean, there were people who were supposed to get a call from Gene and complained that it didn’t happened and were reamed out for complaining. I’m sorry but for $2,000 you are entitled to complain. It’s as if those who spent the money have to blindly justify their purchase which raises a serious red flag. There’s one purchaser who basically uses a homophobic slur towards anyone who criticizes the purchase. Another red flag.
Then there are the videos of the Experiences. They have not been pretty. Some look pretty awful. Yet, those who were there say it was amazing. Am I missing something? I wonder when the members of KISS both past and present will start criticizing and back stabbing. It is a fact that complaining, backstabbing and vitriol make up a good portion of the fabric of the band. So why are fans so angry when someone complains about KISS when in fact the band itself complains quite a bit? And while we are at it, where the hell were all these fans from 1980 to 1996 ? Also, I find it hard to believe that Gene Simmons, Mr. Teetotaler, who’s mind is a sharp as a tack, cannot remember if he spit blood without makeup or if he wore the Love Gun costume on the first Creatures of the Night show.
Then there is the music, most of which I have not heard. Again, I highly recommend the articles by Sonny Pooni and Michael Cavacini. Logically, if the music were that good, we would hear more snippets. If there are good to great songs, I will be highly pissed off that Paul Stanley axed them for any KISS record, like he obviously did for the great material that exists on Wendy O. William’s solo album.Paul Stanley even went on a rant about “It’s My Life”, which is a great song. You can sense his displeasure with Gene and the whole Vault. If there are terrible songs I will be highly pissed off I spent so much money. So, in a nutshell, the music would most likely bring me much frustration, which when I think about it, KISS has mostly brought me. More times than not, KISS has let me down but there are those few times they blow me away. They aren’t consistent like Iron Maiden, Led Zeppelin or Judas Priest. They are that girlfriend who gave you a couple amazing times in bed and then married and now make your life complicated.
That all being said, I still have not ruled out buying the Experience. For one, the dynamic fascinates me. Let’s do the math. If Gene sells 500 of these, he grosses $1 million. That equals some of the advances he got back in the day. Also, I am dying to get insight on my beloved Wendy O. Williams’ solo album, W.O.W. In fact, I would have him sign mine as Reginald Van Helsing. Finally, I would love to get him to do a promo for this fine web site and podcast. But is it really worth $2,000 ?
Written by Joe Becht. Follow him on Twitter @JoeBecht
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