KISS Almost Suffocated Themselves on Stage Trying To Put on a Good Show

Having the kind of performance that takes someone’s breath away is a commendable goal for any artist, but rock group KISS took this endeavor to the next level when they almost suffocated themselves on stage. The close call took place while they were singing their 1975 hit “Rock and Roll All Night,” giving all new meaning to the line, You keep on dancing, and the room gets hot.

Videos by American Songwriter

Indeed, that’s exactly how the musicians were feeling as they were playing a promotional gig at a small London club that, ironically, was called O2. Guitarist Tommy Thayer described the “freaky” experience during a Q&A session at the ninth annual Kiss Kruise in 2019.

The Musicians Quickly Noticed Something Going Terribly Wrong

The suffocated KISS show in question took place at the O2 Academy Islington in London on March 2, 2010, to a relatively tiny crowd of 800 adoring fans. Thayer described the room as “really small and really hot.” He said that as the band was closing their set with “Rock and Roll All Nite,” the six or so confetti cannons the production team set onstage started to go off for the finale.

“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.”

Thayer said he and his bandmates rushed offstage mid-song, throwing their instruments on the floor as they ran to the backstage door for fresh air. The seasoned performers, who were no strangers to the physical demands of a live rock and roll show, couldn’t figure out what was going on or why all four members struggled to breathe simultaneously.

KISS‘ Confetti Cannons Almost Suffocated The Band

As it turns out, the problem wasn’t the performers at all—it was the confetti cannons shooting out plume after plume of small, colored paper. KISS implemented CO2 confetti cannons for their portability and ease of use, which is a must for a touring group like themselves. However, when multiple cannons are going off at the same time in a small room, CO2 becomes less of a convenient alternative and more of a 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 (and the crowd) made it out of the O2 Academy unscathed, giving KISS quite a memorable story to recount years later. Thayer even joked with the panel that their bandmates, Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley, typically suck all the air out of the room, so the show was nothing new.“I’m staying out of that one,” guitarist Bruce Kulick quipped.

KISS almost suffocating on stage wasn’t enough to keep the band from the O2 Academy, which hosted the band over a decade later in May 2023. The iconic band announced that it would be their final London show, which Stanley called “the holy land—this is where the music we love came from” (via a live review by When the Horn Blows). Luckily, it was just their last show because they were on their farewell tour, not because they ran out of oxygen.

Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images

Leave a Reply

Class Of 2023 Medallion Ceremony

4 of the Best Vince Gill Songs of All Time