Reconnecting with my love for rock music
The first time I was exposed to classic rock music was when I was in third grade. My dad would play his favorite Journey, KISS and Queen albums whenever he drove me to school. I learned all the lyrics of each band’s greatest hits and even discovered a few of my own favorites, which I would usually play on repeat during those car rides. 70s/80s rock music became the first music genre that I had ever felt a deep emotional connection to, and it helped me get through my middle school and high school years. Once I got to college, I stopped listening for a while and it wasn’t until I attended the recent STYX concert in Burgettstown, PA that I began listening to classic rock on an almost daily basis again, ultimately remembering why I love the music so much.
The connection that I’ve made with classic rock is not just tied to my emotions, but also to my parents and their generation. Listening to older music gives me a small glimpse into their youth and the trends that my parents were (or might have been) into. When I first told them over the phone that I would be interviewing Lawrence Gowan of STYX and seeing the band in concert, both my parents screamed with excitement. To be honest, I knew very little about STYX at the time so I couldn’t really relate to that excitement. My parents had to explain to me all they knew about the band and gave me suggestions for some songs I should listen to. After listening to more of their hits, I became an instant fan of STYX and understood a little better my parents’ fangirling for the band.
Being able to attend STYX’s concert in Burgettstown was something I had been looking forward to for a while, mainly because I knew I would get to experience a part of the past. I expected the audience to consist mostly of adults around my parents' age, reliving that time when they were around my age. As someone who is nearing her twenties, I was curious to see what this whole scene would look like while also contemplating if I would be doing the same thing twenty years from now.
Because of traffic, I arrived a little late to the concert. However, the first thing I heard was Tesla’s rocking performance of their song, “Modern Day Cowboy” blasting through the speakers, and my friend and I weren’t even inside the venue yet. I had never listened to Tesla before, but just hearing them play, especially their amazing guitar solo in the song, made me feel so excited for the rest of the concert.
Once I finally got in to the venue, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts were getting ready to perform. A large screen with the band’s logo hung right in the center of the stage with the full drum set, all the guitars, and microphones set and ready to go for the next act. The moment Joan Jett walked out on stage, I was immediately starstruck. She wore what looked to be a leather sleeveless top and skinny leather pants, with sneakers to complete the outfit. Her presence, performance, and well really everything about her represented authentic classic rock. She performed some of her most famous hits like “I Love Rock 'n' Roll,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and “Bad Reputation.” For each song she performed, there was a different background on the large screen behind her; there were some images taken from scenes of her movie Light of Day with Michael J. Fox during her performance of the song “Light of Day,” as well as images of splattered paint during her performance of “Love Is Pain.” Joan Jett ended her act with an encore and performed the song “Everyday People,” spreading only good vibes throughout the entire atmosphere of the venue.
Around twenty minutes after Joan Jett & The Blackhearts’ act, STYX came out ready to “get this show on the road,” performing “Gone Gone Gone” from their most recent album, The Mission. I definitely did not expect STYX’s entire performance to be one huge rock 'n' roll party. Especially once they started playing “Rockin' The Paradise” from their Paradise Theatre album, I saw all the members of the band starting to dance, goof off, and have the best time of their lives up on stage. STYX’s free spirited nature was contagious, and almost instantly they had the entire audience dancing as well.
The musical journey that STYX took the audience through during their concert was an experience like no other. The moods and atmosphere from the audience changed so naturally to match the tone of each song. The nostalgic feeling that most of the audience members had was very present, especially when the band brought out Chuck Panozzo, one of the founding members of STYX, to play “Fooling Yourself (The Angry Young Man)." One of the most amazing moments for me was seeing the audience at one point hold up a mix of lighters and using the light from their phones. That image vividly showed that even with the change in times, the impact of music on people is timeless. Throughout the whole concert, I saw people my parents' age dance like no one was watching and even adults my grandparents’ age were swaying to the beat of the music. I don’t know if it was during the “Bohemian Rhaphsody” piano solo by STYX’s lead singer, Lawrence Gowan or when the band ended the night with “Mr. Roboto” and “Renegade” that I remembered how it felt listening to my dad’s rock music in the car. It was a unique and awesome feeling, like even though I didn’t grow up during one of the peaks of the classic rock movement, I was proud that I was still somehow able to be a part of it.