STYX Bring Classic Rock To Woodstock [REVIEW]

Review by: Dennis M. Kelly – Photos © 2021 by: Roman Sobus

WOODSTOCK, IL – With the legendary Chicago rock band STYX having performed stadiums and venues all over the world, I guess it shouldn’t have surprised me on where they’d end up next, but admittedly, at McHenry County Fairgrounds was not a place I would have ever expected to see them. But, by all means, I am not at all complaining. With never having had the chance to see them before, I am very thankful as they’ve been so rooted in my life growing up and they have even been one of the inspirational forces behind my creating Chicago Music Guide in the first place.

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I arrived at the fairgrounds fairly early and checked out some of the vendors that were present and enjoyed a (very affordable) $3 hamburger from the 4H club and some delicious freshly-squeezed lemonade provided by Your Sister’s Tomato. There were many other tents, including one for the healing powers of hemp and another that was selling pierogis, but this event was not officially part of the full fair, so there were no animals or rides like you’d normally see.

Opening the show was Tommy DeCarlo, of the band DeCarlo and singer for the equally legendary classic rock band, Boston who took over for original singer, Brad Delp who sadly passed away in 2007. DeCarlo’s vocals were spot-on with every nuance in how Delp had sung; it was truly remarkable, and he might even be one of the first musicians who have social media to thank for getting his big break, in this case however, it was MySpace.

Boston were planning a tribute and so a friend recommended that Tommy submit his music for consideration, which Myspace pages were pretty good for that at that time and the rest is history. DeCarlo released his debut album last year entitled “Lightning Strikes Twice” and you can pick it up on Amazon here.

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On stage with DeCarlo and in the band DeCarlo was his son, Tommy DeCarlo Jr. as well as Payton Velligan who you’d normally find on guitar or keyboard, but took up the bass for this performance along with three other equally as talented musicians as they belted out one great song after another. The crowd’s excitement reached its peak for their performance of “Foreplay / Long Time” which was played flawlessly. Follow them on Facebook so you don’t miss the next time they come through town here:

Now that Tommy DeCarlo had done such a phenomenal job in preparing the audience for STYX, the time was finally here and they kicked off their set with the opening song “The Fight Of Our Lives” off their highly anticipated 17th album, “Crash Of The Crown” which was released in June and can be picked up here.

The overall theme of “Crash Of The Crown” takes a look at how mankind has risen and fell at different periods of our history, how our shared history applies to our lives now and how it can dictate our futures. Asking the question, “Whose going to save us from ourselves” and implying an urgency that positive change needs to happen before it is too late.

The set was very well balanced, with only 6 songs off of the new album, and those songs blended in very well with their classics, a sign that while the band is still continually growing and expanding their sound; they still hold true to their core sound. Speaking of growing and expanding, it was announced that Will Evankovich, who produced the album with them is now a full-fledged member of STYX, which is very exciting to see! Welcome aboard Will!

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I cannot say enough how completely perfect their performance was, between Tommy Shaw and James “JY” Young‘s clean and crisp guitar work, Todd Sucherman‘s drumming was as solid as ever, Lawrence Gowan‘s piano work which was best highlighted on a solo piano variation of “Khedive” that was not even listed on their actual setlist, as was the case with “Lost At Sea” which was jokingly influenced by the cool air blown distantly from Lake Michigan.

Gowan, quite the showman of the band, from his theatrical moves while he played, to his multi-colored jacket and black hat he wore during “Rockin’ The Paradise“, also paraded around the stage with some very fancy footwork that would put us all to shame.

And we cannot forget the great work that Ricky Phillips delivered on guitar and bass along with, the one and only, (founding member) Chuck Panozzo who accompanied them on bass for the songs, “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)“, and “Come Sail Away“.

One of the strengths of STYX has been their harmonies and it was a major highlight of their show and something they built on with “Crash Of The Crown” by having three lead vocalists harmonizing and taking turns during the same song. It reminds me of Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young a bit, but it is totally the STYX sound we’ve all known and loved through the years.

And I swear, James “JY” Young‘s name should be changed to James “Howling” Young as he howled a couple times during the night which was fun and his speaking voice is such a great deejay voice too, but I definitely think he’s doing perfectly fine right where he is bringing some of the best classic rock with the rest of the band, for sure.

As is the case on every stop of STYX tours, Rock To The Rescue was giving concertgoers an opportunity to help raise money for local charities and for a $20 donation, they received the latest album on CD and a chance to win a guitar autographed by the entire band. This time, they were raising money for the FAIR Foundation and it is really great to see bands doing what they can like this to help those in need. In fact, Rock To The Rescue was spearheaded by Tommy Shaw’s daughter, Hannah and founded as a full-fledged non-profit by the band.

As Tommy Shaw said early in the evening, they were going to be time-traveling back and fourth through the years over their extensive catalog, and they did indeed bring back fond memories while creating tremendous new ones on a wonderfully full moonlit evening here in Woodstock, IL.

You have two more chances to see STYX in the very-near future if you don’t mind the drive or happen to live near there, but they’ll be at Summerfest in Milwaukee on September 4th and in Springfield in November, so you’ve got that to think about now, but I am sure they’ll be back in Chicago in 2022, we’ll just have to wait and see for now.

As I stated earlier, this was my first time seeing STYX and I am so glad I saw them, if you’ve not seen them before, I highly recommend you check them out at least once in your life, you won’t regret it! Below is the setlist from the evening along with their planned tour dates.

STYX Setlist

1. Fight Of Our Lives *
2. Blue Collar Man
3. Grand Illusion
4. Lady
5. Reveries *
6. Light Up
7. Sound The Alarm *
8. Crystal Ball
9. Crash Of The Crown *
10. Rockin’ The Paradise
11. Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)
12. Suite Madam Blue
13. Save Us From Ourselves *
14. Too Much Time
15. Khedive
16. Lost At Sea *
17. Come Sail Away
18. Mr. Roboto
19. Renegade

* off of Crash Of The Crown

Tour Dates:

Sat, SEP 4 – Summerfest 2021 – Milwaukee, WI
Wed, SEP 8 – Celebrity Theatre – Phoenix, AZ
Thu, SEP 9 – Celebrity Theatre – Phoenix, AZ
Fri, SEP 10 – Kiva Auditorium at the Albuquerque Convention Center – Albuquerque, NM
Sat, SEP 11 – Adams County Fairgrounds – Brighton, CO
Tue, SEP 14 – Utah State Fairpark – Salt Lake City, UT
Thu, SEP 16 – Silver Legacy Resort Casino – Reno, NV
Fri, SEP 17 – Ironstone Vineyards – Murphys, CA
Sat, SEP 18 – Agua Caliente Casino Resort & Spa – Rancho Mirage, CA
Tue, SEP 21 – Town Toyota Center – Wenatchee, WA
Wed, SEP 22 – Washington State Fair – Puyallup, WA
Fri, SEP 24 – The Venetian – Las Vegas, NV
Sat, SEP 25 – The Venetian Theatre – Las Vegas, NV
Sun, SEP 26 – The Venetian Theatre – Las Vegas, NV
Fri, OCT 1 – Tropicana Showroom – Atlantic City, NJ
Sat, OCT 2 – del Lago Resort & Casino – Waterloo, NY
Sun, OCT 3 – The Big E – West Springfield, MA
Wed, OCT 6 – Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom – Hampton Beach, NH
Fri, OCT 15 – Golden Nugget Lake Charles Hotel & Casino – Lake Charles, LA
Sat, OCT 16 – Levitt Pavilion – Arlington, TX
Sun, OCT 17 – Buddy Holly Center – Lubbock, TX
Thu, OCT 21 – Amarillo Civic Center Complex – Amarillo, TX
Sat, OCT 23 – Nutty Brown Amphitheatre – Austin, TX
Sun, OCT 24 – John T. Floore Country Store – Helotes, TX
Fri, NOV 12 – Choctaw Grand Theater – Durant, OK
Thu, NOV 18 – Ralston Arena – Ralston, NE
Fri, NOV 19 – Stiefel Theatre for the Performing Arts – Salina, KS
Sat, NOV 20 – UIS Performing Arts Center – Springfield, IL
Thu, JAN 6, 2022 – Ryman Auditorium – Nashville, TN
Mon, FEB 14, 2022 – Rock Legends Cruise – Orlando, FL
Fri, MAR 25, 2022 – Parx Casino – Bensalem, PA






Rock To The Rescue:


McHenry County Fairgrounds:


Roman Sobus:


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