Stop Fooling Yourself, Sturgis Headliners Styx Still Rocks Just as Hard as Ever

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Apologies to Dennis DeYoung, but Sturgis Blue Chip headliners Styx has not lost its touch, and the legendary band only seems to be getting better with age.

After the iconic Chicago-launched rock band and Sturgis 2019 headliners Styx ousted its founder, Dennis DeYoung, in 1999 over creative differences, I swore I’d never see Styx live again. Afterall, I wouldn’t want to see The Beatles without John Lennon, or Guns N’ Roses without Axl Rose, or the E Street Band without The Boss. Removing a pivotal member from a brilliant band of five world-class musicians didn’t seem like a bright idea, especially when DeYoung sang most of the songs and wrote some the best Styx classics out there. Without him, how could the band truly still be considered “Styx”?

Sure, Styx still features wickedly talented singer-songwriter Tommy Shaw fronting the band and performing a lot of its other timeless hits, like “Renegade,” “Blue Collar Man,” “Fooling Yourself” and “Too Much Time On My Hands.” And he’s till supported by original members James Young on guitar and Chuck Panozzo on bass–but could Mick Jagger carry a show without Keith Richards? And even though he had his own awesome prog-rock hits in the Eighties, could Lawrence Gowan, DeYoung’s replacement since 1999, really ever fill the shoes of the man whose music and leadership turned Styx from a popular South Side bar band to a superstar international act beginning in the early Seventies? (Drummer Todd Sucherman and bassist Ricky Phillips round out the current lineup, with Phillips filling in for Panozzo through most of the current shows due to Panozzo’s health issues.)

Styx by D.M. Ciminelli

As the singer and key songwriter behind Styx classics like “The Best of Times,” “Come Sail Away,” Babe,” and “Grand Illusion,” DeYoung seemed about as irreplaceable as David Lee Roth is/was/is to Van Halen. In fact, I once said the same words about Van Halen, that I would no longer be seeing the band live if DLR was no longer in the band. However, after seeing Sammy Hagar rock the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum at a hometown Van Halen show in 1988, shortly after replacing Roth, I was ready to eat my words. And more recently, having just witnessed Styx blow the roof off of the Saban Theatre in Beverly Hills, I remain thoroughly convinced that I was premature in writing off a few of my longtime favorite bands after they distanced themselves from key band members.

Styx by D.M. Ciminelli

After seeing the band perform recently, it was great new to hear that Styx will be headlining Sturgis Blue Chip on August 5, and you can expect that it is going to be one hell of a great show filled with classics delivered by a band that has not lost its stride. In fact, Gowan makes the show that much better with his faithful and flawless renditions of songs made famous by DeYoung. And his energy onstage is infectious. Gowan is like a party ringmaster who won’t stop shaking the stage until every fist in the house is pumping and every body is moving to the rock beat. Styx and Gowan cover all of the band’s unforgettable gits, from the early days, like “Lady” and “Light Up” right up to, of course, “Mr. Roboto” as well as “Gone Gone Gone,” from the band’s 2017 album, The Mission.

Missing from the set are solo hits from Gowan (“Criminal Mind,” “Strange Animal“) and Shaw (“Girls with Guns“). Nevertheless, the concert never fails to provide an awesome immersive Styx experience that will let you drift back to a time when music mattered and AutoTune didn’t.

Styx by D.M. Ciminelli

Having seen the DeYoung-era band on the 1983 Kilroy was Here tour in New York, and then the Gowan-era band perform a few months ago in L.A., I can honestly say, it’s a draw as to which musician handled the role better. However, Gowan brings a fun, positive energy to the group that is fresh and new and noticeable. By the end of the show you may very well forget that Dennis DeYoung was ever in the band.

Plus, at Sturgis 2019, Styx will be appearing along with a number of other great support acts, including:

  • “Monkey Business”-making heavy metal monsters Skid Row (sans Sebastian Bach, unfortunately) on Aug. 2

Check out Styx rock Sturgis, South Dakota, on Aug. 5 at Sturgis, which runs Fri., Aug. 5, to Sun., Aug. 11.


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