Doesn't that make it sound like Prom? "Prom '96: One Magical Night." But dudes, for real...it really was. Way more magical than my actual prom night, which was mostly spent at a truck stop called The Full Moon Cafe on Highway 41 in northeastern Illinois.
I feel I need to start with Larry Sweeney. Larry is an old friend of mine who I've been in and out of touch with for the last twelve or so years. Fortunately, we're fully back in touch now, and plan to stay that way. We've been nurturing our relationship with good talks, palm readings, and, obviously, rocking live music. Last August, Larry and I went to see Alice Cooper in Hammond, Indiana. I'm not sure what to say about that, except for the following points:
*It was in a casino
*Larry's dad came along
*Alice Cooper killed a baby on stage
*It was pretty incredible
So Larry, being the go-getter he is, calls me up a few weeks ago and proposes the idea of going to see Styx. Now, I've seen Styx twice before, and both times were amazing, but I knew this time would be different. Instead of seeing this wondrous band in a big field in the classy city of Beloit, Wisconsin, we'd be attending the show at a theater in illustrious Waukegan, Illinois. How could I say no to this? Also, Larry Sweeney is known to raise the bar...I knew this would be a night I would not soon forget.
Thank effing god I went. Styx is amazing. I know about a billion people who like to make fun of me for liking Styx (Example A: Schabow, who, when we lived together, put on his own music turned up louder than my Styx at a party we had. Damn...that cut deep, Schabow), but really, they rule an incredible amount. Never mind that they are all close to my father's age and their hairstyles, which were once rocking and sexy, now look slightly weird. Never mind the fact that they are playing an identical set list to what I heard them play nearly three years ago. Never mind that one song "Show Me the Way" - they didn't even play it! This band rocks. And you should try and see them at some point.
Here are some highlights of the night. I forgot my camera, as usual, so these pictures from my phone will have to suffice:
*Larry's friend Cary got us seats in the second row, right in the center. The only people in front of us were "The Accounts Receivable Department," a bunch of 40-something ladies Larry nicknamed who were screaming and carrying on and catching guitar picks right and left. The members of Styx were definitely playing it up in front of these wild ladies - making eyes, winking, even mouthing "love you" to one of them. Scandalous!
*There was a lot of "THANK YOU WAUKEGAN!!!" and stuff like this to remind us where we were. There was also a pice of paper in front of the mic stands that, in a giant font, said WAUKEGAN, ILLINOIS and then underneath, MERRILVILLE, INDIANA to remind Styx of where they were. When they said they were heading to Merrilville next, the crowd booed a lot. Larry explained how towns always hate the other towns close to them. I thought that was pretty hilarious - to boo Merrilville. I'd boo because Merrilville is close to Gary, which smells like an actual butt. But that's just me.
*James Young, founding member, guitarist, and singer, makes the most insane Guitar Face I've ever seen. He also makes Vocal Face. I wish you could see this picture better so I wouldn't have to explain - his giant white teeth were unbelievable.
At one point, Larry turned to me and said "This guy is like a cross between Jon Voigt and..." I didn't let him finish. "GARY BUSEY!" I exclaimed! We giggled a lot.
*Although Dennis DeYoung (who I saw play Pontious Pilate in a production of Jesus Christ, Superstar when I was sixteen) is no longer in the band, Styx did not pussyfoot around when finding his replacement. I assume they traveled to a magical land, or to the end of a rainbow or something, because the man they found to sing the high parts and play keyboards was definitely...well...elf-ish. Not like the language in The Lord of the Rings. I mean he looked and acted like an actual elf. A tiny, feathery-haired, pervy elf. His silver skinny tie perfectly matched his pointy (yes, pointy) silver shoes. He leapt and pranced around the stage like a little sprite, spreading the magic of music. Or something. But he'd also do these totally gross moves where he'd put one leg all up high and thrust his pelvis in the air. His keyboard spun around, and he'd play with his hands behind his back, winking and mouthing "OH YEAH" at the crowd. Specifically the Accounts Receivable Department. There was a lot of screaming...
Here is another picture of that illusive elfin wizard. I think he must have been singing "Come Sail Away" at this point, judging from his arm, thrown out expressively...
Here's a picture of the bass player, not an original member, but a great addition to the band nonetheless. Larry noted that his haircut didn't look authentic enough. He was trying too hard.
Here's Jon Voigt/Gary Busy, partying down.
And another...I couldn't get enough of this guy. Damn weirdo...
This is the whole band. That's Jon/Gary second from the left, and Tommy Shaw (only other original member) right next to him. Tommy Shaw was brilliant - he was hilarious and entertaining, and when he said stuff like "We're having so much fun, Waukegan, we wish we didn't have to leave you!" I actually believed him.
What else...they sang almost everything I could have hoped for. They don't seem to play Mr. Roboto anymore, I think because of some weirdness with Dennis DeYoung in the past, and the fact that the rest of the band hated the song and this perhaps led to them breaking up...? But really, they sound amazing, they look...well, pretty alright. This was definitely my best Styx experience thus far. Seeing it in Rockegan (Waukegan dudes, come on!) was a big part of it. Seeing it with Larry was a huge part of it.
Go see Styx. Go see Larry Sweeney. Come on, I'm going (next Saturday)! Check all the Larry links on this blog - I worked hard on this. I'm doing you all a favor, seriously. Just go.
I just received a comment from Dixie, who found my blog, and had been sitting right in front of Larry and I at this very show! She took amazing pictures, so if you'd like to see some where the faces are actually clear, check them out here. Seriously, amazing pictures.
And just so Dixie knows, the Accounts Receivable Department was actually the group of ladies to her left. I promise, I wasn't making fun!
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