Styx, R.E.O. Speedwagon & Night Ranger to Play Sommet Center Nov. 15



Styx's New Sound?

It is unconfirmed but widely speculated that underneath the stage of the Wildhorse Saloon lies a gigantic magnet that pulls only at hairplugs. When Styx sailed through town in Oct. 2007 they played the 2,000 capacity Wildhorse. When R.E.O. Speedwagon last kept on lovin' Nashville, they too graced the Wildhorse stage. Night Ranger motored into Music City a few years back, and you know where they played? The fuckin' Wildhorse. Of course. All three of these aforementioned hatchback heritage rockers will join forces for package tour that brings them to town and under the same roof on Nov. 15.

If I were to give you one guess as to where this veritable monsters of "rock" will take place, I'd only expect one answer: The Wildhorse. Actually, some you would probably guess 527 Main St. in Murfreesboro. So I bet you're as surprised as I am to see that this rock 'n' roll circus will be coming to the 18,000+ capacity Sommet Center. Well, actually they'll be using a "half-house" configuration that seats 10,000, but, still, that's a lot of seats to fill. Three Wildhorses does not equal a Sommet Center--or even half of one, for that matter.

Perhaps it's a sign that our national economic recovery is in effect? You know, being able to get droves of people from the counties to come out for a night of $10 parking, $12 beers and $35 T-shirts. Perhaps there are folks out there who are just that excited to see former members of Damn Yankees once again grace the same stage, even if it's not at the same time. Either way, Municipal Auditorium weeps. (Ted Nugent already has an outlet for his frustrations.)

It's worth noting that--as has been the case since 1999--Styx founder and auteur Dennis DeYoung (a.k.a Kilroy) will not be joining band for this outing. For me, that's actually a selling point. DeYoung is one of the most capital offenders in bringing about the rise of soft rock. Styx's first No. 1 hit, "Babe," was the ultimate "every bad boy has a soft side" track. That template of "arena-ready hard-rock band has mega-hit ballads"--having outlived hair metal--is still in effect to this day. Case in point: Nickelback. DeYoung's crimes against music only got worse--albeit totally hilarious--after the original break-up of Styx. Take a look at him flexing his acting chops in the fiercely affecting video for the 1984 solo-stinker "Desert Moon."

A face for radio
  • A face for radio
If Styx were the McDonald's of late-'70s/ early-'80s make-out rock, then R.E.O. Speedwagon are easily the Burger King. Speedwagon lead-singer Kevin Cronin's face is perhaps the biggest eyesore in pop music history, making the band a prime example for how successful homely rockers could make it before the rise of MTV.

If there is one song that brings to my mind images of a couple necking in a convertible atop a cliff, overlooking a suburban scenic vista just after attending an opening weekend showing of Back to the Future, it's Night Ranger's "Sister Christian." I don't care what anyone says. I don't care how patently awful the majority of their output is. "Sister Christian" rules hard. I'm not even a huge fan of Boogie Nights, but the film did make me realize that getting filled full of lead during a botched coke deal while clad in undies and an open bathrobe just after a spot-on "Sister Christian" air-drum sesh would be an amazing way to go out--even better than getting hit by a double-decker bus or a ten-ton truck.

Tickets for this trip back in time are currently on sale here for the very non-retro price of $37-$122. Those are higher tickets prices than Springsteen's. Seriously, it costs more to see Styx than it does to see the Boss play Born to Run in its entirety? Seriously.

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