|Last night (Aug. 9), a giant outdoor party was held in Los Angeles to celebrate the world premiere of Detroit Rock City, a new movie about four long-haired '70s teens on a hell-bent crusade to see hard rock titans Kiss in concert.|
Helping the guests get in the mood to party like it was 1979 was live entertainment by Everclear, Robin Zander and Rick Nielsen of Cheap Trick, and, as a truly grand finale, Kiss themselves.
A UCLA parking lot in Westwood Village was transformed into what looked like a rock 'n' roll state fair, complete with football-field bleachers and a greasy junk-food menu that included chili dogs, hand-dipped ice cream, nachos, pizza, sub sandwiches, and hamburgers. Quite a few party guests sported Kiss facepaint, while one foursome, clad in full Kiss regalia from the tops of their long black wigs to the soles of their clawfooted platform boots, so uncannily resembled the gods of thunder that they caused many attendees to do a double-take.
The celebrity-studded crowd included Brad Pitt, Monkee Micky Dolenz, News Radio's Andy Dick, David Was of Was (Not Was), and former MTV's Singled Out host Chris Hardwick, as well as several hundred lucky radio contest winners.
First to hit the stage were Everclear, who came out wearing cowboy hats, short pants, and black socks held up by garters, and whose three-piece lineup was augmented by an accordion player, second guitarist, keyboardist, and extra percussionist. After riling up the audience with their modern rock radio hit "Santa Monica," they launched into a crowd-pleasing cover of Thin Lizzy's "The Boys Are Back In Town," which appears on the Detroit Rock City soundtrack.
Things picked up even more when Cheap Trick's Zander and Nielsen joined Everclear onstage for what Zander later described as "the ultimate punk version" of the Cheap Trick classic "Surrender" (a song that appears during the pivotal Detroit Rock City scene when the film's protagonists finally reach Detroit city limits). Zander's voice was in top shape, Nielsen was playing his famous checkerboard-pattern guitar like a madman and sling-shotting guitar picks into the audience left and right, and the members of Everclear were obviously delighted to be sharing the stage with their arena-rock heroes. When the band came to the "got my Kiss records out" line of the song, Nielsen, as is Cheap Trick tradition, pitched several vinyl Kiss LPs into the crowd, which fans dove for with all the rabid enthusiasm of stereotypical spinsters at a bridal bouquet toss.
Minutes after Everclear, Zander, and Nielsen left the stage, out came the evening's guests of honor--Kiss's own Gene Simmons, Paul Stanley, Ace Frehley, and Peter Criss--who pulled out all the stadium-rock stops despite the relatively small size of the parking lot venue. Their arrival on a stage that featured a "Detroit Rock City" neon sign and hydraulic platforms for Simmons and Frehley to pose upon was accompanied by a massive explosion of fireworks and flashpots that burned so brightly their heat could be felt by the fans in the highest bleachers, and pyro continued to play a big part throughout Kiss's renditions of "Detroit Rock City," "Shout It Out Loud," and "Cold Gin."
Frehley wowed the crowd with a smoking guitar solo (literally--his guitar was on fire), Simmons did a fire-breathing party trick with a flaming sword, and every song began and ended with enough fireworks that would make even the grandest Fourth Of July spectacle seem like a couple of sputtering kiddie sparklers. Stanley was in fine frontman form, wiggling and slapping his behind and peeling off his shirt to reveal his virile and hairy physique, while Simmons offered the elated fans in the front row plenty of tongue-waggling and lewd pelvic thrusts.
The fourth and final song of the evening ("This is a quickie, but sometimes quickies are good!" declared Stanley of the short set), "Rock 'N' Roll All Night," was marked by a massive burst of confetti and ribbon streamers that showered the entire audience and made the UCLA lot resemble Times Square on New Year's Eve.
When the whole shebang concluded with Stanley smashing his guitar Pete Townshend-style and Simmons thanking New Line Cinema for "having the guts to put out this movie," everyone in attendance was covered with confetti and pyrotechnic ash that had fallen from the sky.
Detroit Rock City--starring Edward Furlong, directed by Adam Rifkin, and co-produced by Gene Simmons--opens nationally on Friday (Aug. 13).
-- Lyndsey Parker, Los Angeles