The jig is up and the news is out! Progressive rockers Styx have been in the music business since 1975, taking America on a stylistically cacophonous grand illusion, playing the largest New York stadium gigs to the most medium Oklahoma casinos, continuing to spread their message of starships on the horizon, selling out every show in the process.
This was definitely the case with Saturday evening’s stellar performance at Riverwind Casino, 1544 State Highway 9 in Norman.
I really dig concerts at area casinos, mostly because it’s the most non-pretentious crowd of diehard rock fans—some with more than three, four or five decades of collective eardrum damage—that you could ever want to surround yourself with; men with tobacco-stained white beards dancing drunkenly in the aisles with post-menopausal women that want nothing but a good time and, you know, it don’t get better than Styx.
From the first raucous drum beats (from Modern Drummer’s 2019 Classic Rock Drummer of the Year, Todd Sucherman, natch), with their body-shaking and skull-quaking power, the band launched into a full-frontal assault of rock and roll that was a never-ending torrent of guitar solos and operatic voices, thundering bass and delicate piano monologues; it was a two-hour affair that was full of more vim and vigor than most current bands half their age can carry.
Mostly promoting their insanely listenable recent album The Mission, diabolically orchestrating a deft mixture of both new favorites and old hits, the guitar chops from six-string brand-names Tommy Shaw and James Young were mercilessly better than ever, and frontman (since ’99) Lawrence Gowan, with his ass-shaking showmanship, had most people asking “Dennis DeWho?”
At least it did me.
And while tunes from Pieces of Eight, Cornerstone and Paradise Theatre were wholly (holy?) expected, given the bad cyber-blood that was reported over the making of 1983’s Kilroy Was Here, it was an absolute kick to the groins of the Majority for Musical Morality that Styx, in their dazzling encore set, futuristically lit up the stage for a microchip-exploding rendition of “Mr. Roboto”.
So dōmo arigatō, Styx—thank you very much for giving the middle-aged record enthusiasts, eight-track collectors and classic rock listeners of Oklahoma, clad in their ragged Crystal Ball tees and faded rock-star dreams, somewhere to go with their thin-canned beers, no-name cigs and slot-machine winnings on a Saturday night in Norman.
Photos courtesy of K.Y. (Who was accidentally dressed as an elf due to a prior commitment and time constraints, leading to many joyously drunken cheers of Xmas greetings.) // Follow Louis on Twitter at @LouisFowler and Instagram at @louisfowler78.