My First Concert: Styx, 1983

Kilroy Was HereThere. I said it. Not only did I like Styx, but I saw them in concert. And this was not during the heyday of The Grand Illusion and “Come Sail Away.” No, this was after Kilroy was Here, the concept album about robots against censorship.

Styx played at Murphy Center in Murfreesboro, Tenn. where my family was staying during the summer. I was 14 and still a disciple of Dennis DeYoung and Co., although having heard their first single, “Mr. Roboto,” I was beginning to feel a little embarrassed for them. But I cajoled my mother into going.

My memories of the concert are fleeting:

  • The smell of pot rising from the seats below (I’m not sure how I knew it was pot smoke, not having smelled it before, but it smelled so weird that I knew it couldn’t be anything else).
  • Tommy Shaw showing (painfully) that he had no acting skills. (You see, the concert was performed as a rock opera, with Shaw playing the role of Jonathan Chance, a young musician who … er, never mind.)
  • James Young telling everyone that the devil had nothing to do with the writing of “this song” (“Snowblind” – which led me to wonder with trepidation which songs he did have something to do with – “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)”? “The Best of Times”? “Babe”??).

But overall my memory is of seeing my boyhood idols performing the songs I grew up with, and I sang every song with gusto. Yes, Styx’s music has been compared with a parking lot full of whale vomit. Yes, their synthesizers sound more dated than disco. But they are still a guilty pleasure, and I own their Greatest Hits CD.

Hey, it could be worse. I could like REO Speedwagon. That is worse, isn’t it?

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