My First KISS (Sioux Falls, SD)

If I asked “what would you do if you had 24 hours to waste/hang/chill in Sioux Falls, South Dakota?”, what would your answer be?? If you have an answer, congratulations you’re probably a loser for knowing what to do 🙂 . If you don’t have an answer, then you are just like me. In an effort to scratch the state of South Dakota off my list of “All 50 States Visited”, I took that challenge and the reward turned out to be an once in a lifetime experience.

I started my day in Sioux Falls like any normal person would, I slept in as long as possible to avoid boredom. Once I did get the courage to get up and face the brutal cold outside, I took a stroll through the city to the site of the Sioux Falls Park.

As you can tell by my wardrobe (mismatch sweatpants/hoodie, running shoes, company jacket, and a Elmer Fudd hat), I had ZERO intention on doing anything adventurous that didn’t involve making a food run and returning back to my hotel room. But there was something different about this day, the weather wasn’t as harsh as I expected and that was the most snow I had ever seen. I was left with no choice but to continue to explore the city as I searched for time killing adventures until I became hungry enough to pig out and fall asleep. I walked back into the downtown area and visited a couple shops, ultimately landing on my favorite 5 words, a “Going Out Of Business Sale”. I was a little late on the “good stuff” but found a nice Twins hat and other little knick knacks.

By this time, I had killed off enough time to build up an appetite so I returned to the hotel room and sought out a brewery to close by. The plan was to close out the night with food and maybe take down a couple flights. (A “flight” is a sampler for beers”). I found a spot called “Woodgrain Brewing Co.” not too far from the hotel and made my way over.

The plan was coming together all too well. I had my flight of beer and ordered some pizza. Before I land in every city I travel to, I check the Stubhub app to see what events are going on in the city while I am there. I knew that KISS was in town and up til this point I did not make any plans to attend the concert. As I was talking with the bartender about why the city seemed so empty, he mentioned that KISS was in town. I pulled my phone out and looked up the tickets to the concert just to see how much they were. “$11!” I shouted. He said “wow dude, that’s a hell of a bargain for those guys”. I thought about it for a bit. At this time, I only knew one KISS song, “Rock & Roll All Nite”. That’s it, ONE SONG, other than that I knew of Gene Simmons and thought these guys were some freak show rock band that wears face paint. Not exactly my cup of tea. The show was slated to begin within the next 15 minutes and I was about 10 minutes away via Lyft/Uber. I honestly had nothing else to do for the night so I said “sure, why not?”.

I bought my ticket (which came out to a whopping $22 with the taxes), called a Lyft and made my way to the stadium. Everything you think it looked like as I walked into the venue is probably true. I was a black man in South Dakota coming to a KISS concert by myself. Mind you, I’m still wearing the same tacky outfit from earlier in the day so I looked like a sketchy hobo who snuck in to the place.

I made my way to my seat thinking that the show had already started but to my surprise they don’t start on time just like rap concerts. I grabbed a beer and tried my best to blend in as I walked the concourse taking in the scene. (insert sarcasm) Shockingly, I was the greeted by hundreds of thousands of “what the fuck” looks from fellow attendees. Imagine that, people walking around with face paint and wild outfits looked at me like I was the weirdo. But the feeling was mutual, in all my concert years I’ve never been the guy who stood out in the crowd and I’ve never felt out of place in a concert setting before.

The band didn’t have any musical opening act. Instead, they had a painter by the name of David Garibaldi (@garibaldiarts) come out and wow the crowd by drawing things upside down and revealing the art like a magic trick. After a couple paintings, he left the stage and then the show began. The band was coming out to a montage of video introductions but as soon as they hit the stage, the energy in the place was on 100. While I still did not know 95% of the songs that the guys performed, I must say that this was one of the coolest concert experiences I’ve ever had. The lights, the pyro, and most importantly the PERFORMANCE. These guys were like 60-70 years old and they put on a better show than a lot of the acts I’ve seen before. They weren’t out there pop locking and break dancing but the enthusiasm was definitely a difference in the experience. Every song they played had the crowd shouting and singing. I gave the occasional head bob whenever I was feeling the vibe but it was kinda hard to fake singing along when I had no idea how the song would go. I spent a lot of time snapping pictures and looking around at others have the time of their South Dakota lives. NOTE: Concerts seem like forever when you don’t know the words to any of the songs.

I made it through the show and got to sing-a-long to the one song I did know which just so happened to be the last song they performed for the night. After the show, I was so amped up I felt comfortable in the crowd. We all just experienced a great show. We were all a part of that great moment. We were in some odd way, a family for the night. I noticed that those snarly looks turned into high fives and welcoming smiles as I walked out. I took every chance I could to take pictures with many of the fans. One family even gave me the souvenir guitar pick that you see in the featured image of the post. It was truly an experience for the books.

Nick’s Top 5 KISS Songs

  1. “I Was Made For Lovin’ You”
  2. “Shout It Out Loud”
  3. “Calling Dr. Love”
  4. “Detroit Rock City”
  5. “I Love it Loud”

Nowadays, I know more than that one song. I have KISS songs in my library or on playlists that I listen to regularly. I bought and wear KISS t-shirts, so if you see me in one just know that I’m legit in these streets. Even my kids have a favorite KISS song now and hopefully I can take my son to a concert once this pandemic blows over. I had a great experience, I was exposed to some new music, and most importantly I stepped out of my comfort zone. The key to traveling is having an open mind and to be willing to try something new. When was the last time you can say you tried something for the first time? This is the story of my first KISS.

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