How KISS Almost Suffocated Themselves

How KISS Almost Suffocated Themselves | Society Of Rock Videos

via @kissonline/Instagram

Striving for a performance that leaves the audience breathless is an admirable goal for any artist, but rock group KISS took this concept to a dangerous extreme when they almost suffocated on stage. The near-disastrous event occurred while they were performing their 1975 hit “Rock and Roll All Nite,” lending a new, literal meaning to the line, “You keep on dancing, and the room gets hot.”

This alarming incident happened during a promotional gig at the O2 Academy Islington in London on March 2, 2010. Guitarist Tommy Thayer recounted the “freaky” experience during a Q&A session at the ninth annual KISS Kruise in 2019. The small venue, holding a crowd of 800, quickly became a hazard as the band performed their set.

The Musicians Realized Something Was Terribly Wrong

As KISS closed their set with “Rock and Roll All Nite,” the production team set off six or so confetti cannons for the finale. Thayer described the room as “really small and really hot,” and it quickly became clear that something was amiss.

“About halfway through the thing, all the confetti is going off, and suddenly, we all look at each other, and we all say we can’t breathe. It’s like, you couldn’t get your breath [even if] you took a deep breath,” Thayer recalled. “It was starting to get kind of freaky. We just had to run off the stage.”

KISS Narrowly Escaped Suffocation from Confetti Cannons

As it turns out, the culprit wasn’t the band’s performance but the confetti cannons shooting out plume after plume of small, colored paper. KISS used CO2 confetti cannons for their portability and ease of use, which is crucial for a touring band. However, when multiple cannons go off simultaneously in a confined space, CO2 can become a serious health risk.

“These cannons, when they shoot confetti, it’s all done with CO2,” Thayer explained to the KISS Kruise crowd. “They’re blasting all this CO2 on stage, and therefore, all the oxygen gets pushed out. It was the funniest thing, but it was the weirdest thing. It was pretty bizarre.”

The band (along with the audience) emerged unharmed from the O2 Academy, leaving KISS with a memorable tale to share in the years that followed. Thayer even joked during the panel that bandmates Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley typically suck all the air out of the room, so the show was nothing new. Guitarist Bruce Kulick quipped, “I’m staying out of that one.”

Despite the near-suffocation incident, KISS didn’t shy away from the O2 Academy, returning over a decade later in May 2023. The iconic band announced that this would be their final London show, with Stanley calling London “the holy land—this is where the music we love came from.” Fortunately, this last performance was part of their farewell tour and not due to another close call with asphyxiation.

KISS’s harrowing experience at the O2 Academy serves as a testament to the unpredictable nature of live performances and the lengths to which artists go to create unforgettable moments for their fans.

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