KISS By The Numbers: Box Office Records Set In Each Of The Past Three Decades

Scott Legato

KISS has always been a trailblazer when it comes to the live experience, and during its long years as a global road presence, Pollstar has chronicled much of it. Although the group’s early years and ’70s heyday precede our existence, we maintain box office archives stretching back as far as 1982 and as recently as late 2019, when KISS staged North American and Japanese tours.

Now more than a year into the “End of the Road World Tour” that is currently booked through early October, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees are marking their farewell to a touring career that has had many successes at the ticket window. To pinpoint just a few of the box office highlights of KISS’s multi-decade run, we’ll look at top grosses and best draws among reported events.
Arenas have hosted the most concerts by the heavy metal pioneers through the years, although their tour schedules have also included plenty of stadiums, sheds and outdoor sites, as well as theater-sized venues in the early years. Based on archived box office data, the highest single arena gross logged for the band is, perhaps surprisingly, not a recent event. We have to go back to 1996 and the “Alive/Worldwide Tour” – also called the “Reunion Tour,” because it marked the returns of original members Peter Criss and Ace Frehley after 16- and 14-year absences, respectively. The event was a four-show stint at New York’s Madison Square Garden that came during the tour’s opening leg. Running from July 25 to 28, the shows produced a combined gross of $3.3 million, valued more than $5.3 million in today’s dollars, and drew a total attendance of 58,820.

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Among the archived stadium events for KISS, a September 2003 concert at Detroit’s Comerica Park was its highest grosser for years, with a $3.3 million take from 41,655 sold seats during that year’s co-headlining trek with Aerosmith. But the band smashed that record last December. During a five-city sweep through Japan, the KISS tour surpassed $6 million in sales from a crowd of more than 32,000 fans at the Tokyo Dome on Dec. 11. In a sign of the times for most artists, ticket price variance contributed to the dramatic difference in earnings. KISS’s Tokyo performance saw tickets priced from 15,000 to 25,000 yen (or about $135 to $225), which was considerably higher than the cost of admission at Comerica Park in 2003, when fans paid in the range of $25 to $85 for seats.
The top draws included in Pollstar’s archives show KISS’s best-attended solo stadium date occurred more than two decades ago at Foro Sol in Mexico City. With German band Rammstein onboard as support, KISS played for a sellout crowd of 44,831 at the city’s sports stadium on April 24, 1999, during the “Psycho Circus Tour.” The gig grossed $1.4 million.
At arenas, the highest ticket count was scanned at the aforementioned four-show Madison Square Garden run in 1996; along with being KISS’s highest arena gross, the stint’s count of 58,820 tickets sold is also the most tickets KISS has moved at an arena engagement.
Among amphitheaters, KISS sold a whopping 39,743 tickets at the Boston-area shed Xfinity Center – then known as the Tweeter Center for the Performing Arts – on Aug. 25 and 27, 2003. That two-night stand remains the group’s best-attended amphitheater event in Pollstar’s box office records. With $2.9 million grossed, it’s also the top earner among KISS’s shed dates.