Photography / Words by: Jerome Joyce
On a hot humid night by the lake, Styx and Joan Jett & The Blackhearts brought their co-headlining tour with support by legendary rockers Tesla to the Budweiser Stage.
“30 years“ reads the screens in bold white lettering on a vacant stage as fans take to their seats. A buzz in the air as you can feel the anticipation and excitement, but different then anything I’ve felt before. The feeling of musical history fills the air and that has brought Generations of people all together, all ready to have a good time.
Cheers erupt as the stage goes dark.
One by one, Tesla appears followed lastly by vocalist Jeff Keith. Big smile on his face, they start the night off with “I Wanna Live “ from their 2008 release, “Forever More “ The 5 piece from Sacramento are true professionals. With a simplified stage consisting of 2 back line screens, they let the music speak for itself. Keith’s vocals got more powerful as the set went on, powering effortlessly thought an 8 track set. For a band active since 1986, the energy was high! Crisp solos, great interactions and solid chemistry made the set fun to watch. Keith, with a smile ear to ear, was dancing the night away and almost impossible to take your eye off.. A true showman! With the crowd on their feet, singing and dancing away, it was very clear that they were the perfect band to start this night off right! With “
“30 years and still kickin ass” on the screen as they walked off the stage.. That’s exactly what they did! Fantastic set!!
“Bad Reputation“ is in my opinion, the only way Joan Jett could start off a set and she did just that! The queen of Rock ‘n Roll herself in black leather, backed by the Blackhearts had the whole place on their feet, dancing in the isles and singing along for her 17 track set. Playing a solid mix of covers and hits , it was obvious who most of the 10,000 in attendance were there to see. She played a quick, efficient set with little breaks in between songs. Kenny Laguna, her percussion player and founding member of the Blackhearts shared a story about how they were told they’d never be successful due to having a female fronted, male dominated punk band. After being rejected by 23 labels, they created Blackheart Records, released the album themselves and haven’t looked back. 12 albums, countless awards and induction into the Rock and Roll Hall Of Fame in 2015, Joan Jett trail blazed a path for women in music to follow and going by the love she received from the audience….she is a true Legend!
Growing up, the music of Styx was a staple in my household. I was very aware of their music but never really took to them personally. Gowan also fell into that exact same category so this night was very intriguing to me. Wandering around the facility, seeing tour tees from the 70’s, 80’s mixed in among the crowd really put everything into perspective.. I was about to experience something special.
A view of earth from space, the cover art for their 16th studio album, “The Mission” is the backdrop. Lights go on, spaceship concept stage to tie it all together and Styx appears.. Absolutely stunning visuals! Bold, bright lighting with the band sparkling in the light as well. Shimmering jackets, guitars and energy to match! Gowan on his signature spinning keyboard dancing and singing away! Full stage coverage by all 5 members walking corner to corner, up ramps to the platform behind the drum kit. The bands chemistry is unbelievable!
I’m already blown away and we’re a single song in! Powerful vocals from Gowan, Young and Shaw all throughout the 17 song set had the crowds on their feet, dancing and singing to every song played. Back screen changing album covers to match the song and outfit changes by Gowan was a perfect touch. Mid set, Invited on stage was Chuck Panozzo, original bass player to play a couple songs with them. The setlist was a great mix new tracks and classics including “Mr. Roboto” and “Criminal Mind”, Gowan’s biggest hit as a solo artist. With amazing vocals, stunning solos and fantastic visuals, Styx just became one of my all time favourite live bands and I now have a true appreciation for their music. I honestly can’t wait to do this again!!