On December 8, 1974, Bill Starkey and his father made the two-and-a-half hour trek on Highway 41 from Terre Haute, Indiana to Evansville. They took this journey to see some of the greatest rock performers in the world: KISS at Roberts Stadium.
After the awe-inspiring performance, Starkey returned to Terre Haute with the intention of getting KISS played on the airways in his hometown. He enlisted his friend, Jay Evans, to help him create what would become KISS Army, one of the most devoted fanbases in the world. The first act of this army was surrounding the local Terre Haute radio station, WVTS, until it played KISS on the airways. This gave the fanbase national recognition.
Almost 50 years later, KISS has put on the largest live show in the world on its End of the Road World Tour. This has left fans of all ages from Midwestern small towns, much like myself, hoping that KISS goes out the same way it started.
Many places in the Midwest have received facelifts on the early venues that sparked KISS’s career. The Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Coliseum in Evansville is slated to undergo renovations to provide the venue with “new dressing rooms, elevators, sound and light features, retractable seating, and even an orchestra pit,” per 14 News Evansville. As far as other venues, the Roberts Stadium was demolished, with the Ford Center constructed at the site. This stadium is capable of holding 11,000 people and is home to the local professional hockey and collegiate basketball teams.
Up north, Wisconsin has been making moves since KISS played the legendary Mary E. Sawyer Auditorium in 1986. The venue was sadly demolished in 1988. However, Madison’s venue The Sylvee arose with the capability to house the gods of thunder, while also maintaining that intimate hometown feel. The venue has a capacity of 2,500 people, but will be hosting acts such as Lil Wayne and 100 Gecs in 2023.
Needless to say, the people of the Midwest — specifically me — would love to see KISS’s return to these intimate spaces to give back to the die-hard fans, like Starkey and Evans, who raised the Army.