When the best man in my wedding, my cousin Chris, asked me what I’d like to do for my bachelor party, I told him I wanted to attend Gene Simmons’ June 2 concert and do a VIP meet and greet with him on June 3 at Wizard World in Philadelphia. It all happened, and it far exceeded my expectations.
Three of my groomsmen and my friend Bill went to the June 2 concert with me. Since my groomsmen were generous enough to pay for my concert ticket and meet and greet with Gene, I wanted to return the favor and express my gratitude. I did so by getting all of us backstage before Gene’s concert for a VIP meet and greet. This way all of us had a chance to meet the God of Thunder, not just me. When I approached Gene at the meet and greet, I reminded him that I had recently interviewed him. When I said my last name, Cavacini, he put his right hand in the air, squeezing his fingertips together like an Italian chef and said at the top of his voice, “Michael Cavacini! Michael Cavacini! Everybody, it’s Michael Cavacini!” I’m sure my face turned bright red at that moment, but I laughed along with my friends. Gene’s sense of humor is unpredictable but he always knows how to get people smiling. He gave me a fist bump, I put my arm over his shoulder and we posed for an excellent photo. I then asked him to autograph my mini-Punisher guitar and he was happy to oblige. After everyone got an individual photo with Gene, I asked him if we could do a group shot and he was happy to do so. During the group photo Gene jokingly said, “Who’s grabbing my ass?!” Then we all headed downstairs to get a great spot for the concert. The Trocadero Theatre is a standing-room only venue, so I claimed my space in the front row, dead-center, against the barricade and next to a set of steps that led to Gene’s microphone. The opening bands, Mach 22 and Creem Circus, were great! They got the crowd warmed up for Gene’s set and their music was solid. The guitarist for Creem Circus, Jim Cara, threw his guitar out to the crowd and one of my groomsmen, Christian, caught it! I couldn’t believe it. I thought the guitar was going to take someone’s head off when it got chucked into the crowd, but my friend jumped up and grabbed it with both hands.Gene and his band played an 18-song set and kicked things off with the fantastic KISS song “Deuce.” Many KISS staples were played throughout the show, including “Shout It Out Loud,” “Calling Dr. Love” and “Cold Gin.” Seeing them performed by Gene out of makeup and with different musicians gave them a whole different feel. He didn’t even do the signature choreography associated with some of these iconic tracks. It gave the show an unpredictable and raw vibe. Another classic KISS song Gene performed was “I Love It Loud.” However, what made it really cool was I got to sing it with him! Before the song started, he asked some guys from the crowd to come up on stage to join him, so I quickly ascended the steps and approached a microphone. Seeing 1,200 people starring back at me from the stage was an awesome feeling. Thankfully, I was smart enough to give my phone to my best man so he could film the whole thing. You’ll notice halfway through the song that I put my arm around the guy with the cowboy hat – that’s because I realized after singing with him for a minute-and-a-half that it was my friend Chris Giordano! He then looked at me and realized the same thing. It was an awesome moment that took place during an awesome moment. As I left the stage, I made it a point to take one of Gene’s guitar picks from his microphone stand.
The next song was special because it featured a fan on guitar. Gene brought up a young fan who killed it on guitar while playing “Parasite.” It was a very cool moment as evidenced by the video below. After “Parasite,” Gene played the first deep cut of the evening, “Radioactive” from his eponymous solo album. The crowd, including yours truly, loved it.
Then came “Christen Sixteen” and a song Gene never played live before: “Sweet & Dirty Love.” As you can see in the video I shot, Gene nailed it when it came to the vocals. It was very impressive to see and hear him hit those high notes. This was followed up with “Got Love For Sale” from the KISS album Love Gun. Other deep cuts included “Domino” and, my favorite, “Charisma.” Gene and his band played a few more songs, including KISS’ most famous one: “Rock And Roll All Nite.”
The next day I woke up early to make it to Wizard World for Gene’s Q&A, which was interesting. He focused it entirely on money and success, as opposed to music. As expected, it was enlightening and humorous.
When I walked up to Gene for my photo with him, he saw the t-shirt I was wearing, which I had bought the night before at the concert, and he said, “Has anyone said anything about the shirt to you?” I said, “Yes, everyone seems to love it!”I got in line to have Gene autograph my photo with him. When I approached his table I gave him a fist bump and said, “Hi Gene, it’s Michael Cavacini. I’m sure you remember me from last night.” He replied, “And from today.” I chuckled, asked him to sign my photo and he did. I also asked him if he’d be kind enough to autograph my VIP pass from the night before because I meant to ask him to do so at the time but forgot. He graciously did so for free, which made it abundantly clear how nice of a guy Gene really is. I ended by reminding Gene of my upcoming second interview with him and thanked him for his time. I did much more at Wizard World and met numerous other celebrities while there. However, the concert on Friday night and the Gene Simmons VIP meet and greet on Saturday were the highlight of my weekend. I couldn’t have asked for a better bachelor party, and I’m forever grateful to my groomsmen for making it happen. As Gene would say, it’s good to be me.