Guest Writer: Kevin Birge
Gene Simmons Vault Experience. Heard of it yet? Ten discs, one hundred and fifty unreleased tracks. This by itself would be a yawn. Why, you will likely be able to Pirate Bay that stuff to your cell phone before the set is even in the stores. Business as usual.
Except it isn’t.
Gene has a problem with the piratical, parasitical music-swiping public. He’s been teasing the box set of solo material for a little while now. I had wondered when it was coming. I expected a typical release, and being an old-school music fan, I intended to buy it. Maybe I’ll have a chance later, but that chance is not now. Because Simmons has created something that can’t be downloaded.
Oh, you can be sure the music will be out there. And people will be scrolling the track lists with their touch screens shortly. But that isn’t the point. And just stealing the songs isn’t going to get you the package. Because when Gene called it “The Vault Experience”, he wasn’t joking.
An experience it is, the stuff of daydreams and legends. And it’s got some hefty price tags attached.
Imagine this, O Prince!
You have shelled out for the top end of the experience. (If we are going to spend imaginary money, let’s spend the boodle–fifty thousand dollars. The Home Experience.) You got your golden ticket in the mail. Yes! You get a golden ticket. And today is the day the Experience comes.
Not in the mail.
Your guests erupt in a babble of excitement. Guests? Yep. You’ve got to have a party, just like the song says, and this is the party of a lifetime. The people you invited understand the lavish nature of the gift, the people that you didn’t are getting a message.
Why the excitement. Because, dude–HE’S HERE.
Gene Simmons has arrived at your house. He has The Vault in hand, and it looks like a vault. And it’s loaded. Ten discs, hardback book, medallion, action figure, and a unique item from Gene’s personal collection that only you will receive–hand selected by Gene with you in mind.
Download that, ya freakin’ little socialist brats.
The honor of answering the door is yours, of course.
And for the next two hours, Gene is the guest of honor in your home, hanging out. Talk to him about whatever you want. This is the highest level of Experience that money can buy. It’s the stuff of childhood dreams made manifest. It’s just the coolest thing.
Who’s gonna enjoy that music more? Someone that stole it? Or the guy that paid up and had Gene hanging out at his house?
Gene gets bashed for being greedy. And fifty thousand…Lord!
But if you got it to spend, I’m gonna say it’s worth it. I’d spend it.
There are two lower levels, with less Gene involved. But every level at least gets a brief meet and greet and he hands you the box. There is no version of this thing you can go find at Target.
But wait! It’s a review, you say. How can you review something you’ll never have, you dolt?
Because this a space dedicated to the power of imagination. I’m reviewing an imaginary experience. I got a contact buzz just thinking about it.
Now, I am in particular a KISS fan. But just insert the name you like better, instead. Everyone has one.
So I’m opening the door. Gene greets me by name, with real warmth, like an old friend come to visit. Of course he does, he’s consummately professional. Good money has hit the table, he’s going to deliver. And never doubt he can! I saw KISS on the Hot In The Shade Tour. And sitting way back in the rafters, worst seats imaginable, Gene was able to make us feel like he was personally grateful to us for being at the show. And Gene looked about six inches tall from where I was.
He hands you the Vault. And it’s the most physically impressive boxed set in the whole history of recorded music. That’s part of the point. The heft, the quality, the book, the figure, the medallion, the special bit of memorabilia that only your set has–it’s meant to blow your mind. It’s meant to fill like a million Christmas mornings. It’s meant to be a highlight of a lifetime.
That’s how it feels to me, in this particular Plane of Imagination I’m in right now. There’s me, and my friends, and Gene, and the Vault is displayed for oohing and aahing. Gene is hanging out, friendly and kind to all, like he’s known us all our lives. The music is playing, and every track has a story to go with it. He’s happy to tell us about it.
Gene did it. He beat the thieves that killed the market. He got backed into a corner where it wasn’t even fun to make records anymore because people just took his hard work and ran. And he did the most Gene Simmons thing of his life. He made something utterly new, and made it theft-proof. You can download the music. But the Vault is unique to every buyer. And the Experience that goes with it, the memories of a lifetime that it will create–perhaps the greatest music related product anyone ever thought of.
I’ll never have it. That’s the way it goes. Something this special, this cool, this flat-out desirable would be cheapened if everyone could have it.
I’ll observe my blessings and be thankful for them, and I’ll have my Vault Experience in my head. And when the day comes (and it will) that a ‘just the songs’ edition ships, I’ll buy it. (Hey, I LOVED Gene’s Milestone album.)
Because it’s worth buying, if you can.
Because it’s worth dreaming of, if you can’t.
Because it’s cool.