Live Photos: Styx in Atlanta May 26, 2019

On May 26, 2019, Styx brought The Styx World Tour 2019 to Cadence Bank Amphitheatre at Chastain Bank. You can find the complete gallery by Chuck Holloway below the review.


James “JY” Young and Tommy Shaw begin their onstage antics

Styx fans are unlike any other breed of musical fandom. We are legion and we are loyal beyond imagining. In the late 80’s and almost the entire decade of the 90’s, Styx could have faded away into obscurity. Instead, the band regrouped, tightened up, and made enough noise to get our attention again.

With the change in the way people began listening to music, Styx reinvented themselves as a touring band that occasionally recorded music, rather than a band that toured on the back of a new album. The model has been a huge success for them. Any given month, Styx is playing somewhere in the US.

This past Memorial Day-Eve, Styx showed up for their annual visit to Atlanta on the hottest day of the year, and lit up (literally and figuratively) the sold out crowd at the Cadence Bank Amphitheatre.

Drummer Todd Sucherman (who replaced John Panozzo after he passed away), and bassist Ricky Phillips provided the strong, relentless rhythm, while guitarists JY and Tommy Shaw, and keyboardist Lawrence Gowan, fronted the band. They showed absolutely no sign of slowing down as they jammed through the classics they’ve been playing for decades.

To start off the show, the band came out to the pre-recorded “Overture,” and then launched into “Gone Gone Gone,” both from their 2017 release The Mission.

The Mission is an amazing aural time machine that producer Will Evankovich was able to build with the band to bring the listener back to the greatest era of Styx’s history. The Mission feels like it belongs somewhere in between Grand Illusion and Paradise Theatre. 

Other tracks from The Mission included “Radio Silence” and “Khedive”. If there was one disappointment for me, it was that Styx only performed these three songs from their latest album. I would have loved to have heard “Time Will Bend” or “The Red Storm”.

The set of classic hits included “Fooling Yourself”, “Grand Illusion”, “Lady”, “Blue Collar Man” and “Too Much Time on My Hands”, to name a small portion. Each hit song was greeted by a roar from the crowd and sung along with from beginning to end.

For their finale, as usual, Styx performed “Come Sail Away” from The Grand Illusion. But, it was the encore of “Mr. Roboto” that had the crowd really excited. Hearing the opening keyboards and robotic voice speaking, “Domo Arigato, Mr. Roboto” brought a roar from the fans that put a gigantic grin on my face… I was not alone!

Many of us, including myself, had never had the opportunity to hear “Mr. Roboto” live, due to the band’s history with their former singer, Dennis DeYoung. In 2018, though, the band caved in to the constant pleading from their fans, and added it into their set as an encore, along with fan favorite “Renegade”.

All in all, the show at Chastain will go down as one of the best Styx shows that this writer has been to. Second only to The Grand Illusion / Pieces of Eight tour.

If you ever enjoyed Styx, now is the time to catch them live. You will never regret it.

For more tour dates, visit Styx website.


Styx Cadence Bank Amphitheatre 2019

 

Waka Flocka Flame sells out Atlanta’s Center Stage Jan. 16

The pit was packed on Jan. 16 at Atlanta’s Center Stage for Waka Flocka Flame, an act featuring Russ and Kelechi out on their Flockaveli 1.5 tour. The crowd turned up on the dance floor to mosh and grind their way through the night. The air was thick with the heavy perfume of Mary Jane before the party even started.

Kelechi, the opening act, hails from Marietta, Ga. He started his career as SUBMiT, but changed his stage name to Kelechi, his given name, as a means of embracing his Nigerian heritage. While most concertgoers see opening acts as an opportunity to pregame or grab a T-shirt before the lines get long, Kelechi had many fans in the house singing along to his music. His single “WANT,” gained the attention of Mountain Dew’s music magazine Green Label Sound and earned him a trip to SXSW in 2015. His DJ, Ukan, did a great job keeping the set moving along, and he was clearly having a great time with the sold out crowd, rapping along with Kelechi from time to time. He exited the stage via the photo pit to exchange fist bumps and high fives with some fans. 

Up next was Russ, a prolific producer, rapper, and member of the DIEMON crew with 11 albums to his name. He is not your typical Atlanta rapper. Russ isn’t yelling “Shots! Shots! Shots!” in your ear; instead, he wants to sit down and have a long conversation with you over a bottle of liquor. His music will take you to the darker, more quiet corners of the block party. His productions are smooth and highly listenable. I wish that the polish and attention he brings to his studio productions carried through to his onstage performance. The stage seemed big for him. The crowd was full of his fans, and I heard lots of people singing along to his music, but I wanted to see more charisma and command from him. Nevertheless, at the end of his performance, admirers were clambering to get close to him, take his picture, and ask where they could buy his jacket (You can get it on his website here).

After a brief intermission, Waka exploded onto the stage with a large group of friends and fans. At that moment, the whole energy of the place shifted. The dancing in the crowd turned into moshing. Onstage, people were taking lots of selfies and passing around bottles of Patron.  People in the crowd held their phones in their outstretched arms towards the stage, to have the rapper take a selfie with their phones. Waka barely stopped moving to stop to talk to the crowd. He didn’t have to. He leaped and moshed from one end of the stage to the other for almost the entire set.

Girls begged to be pulled onto stage. Girls begged -me- to pull them onstage. That was weird, because photographers are usually invisible. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Everyone there wanted to be close to him. Those not lucky enough to be pulled into the party onstage got their chance when he leaped into the audience and wandered out into the crowd for a few songs. The lights on stage and in the house went down, and he was lit by nothing but the ever present cell phone flashlights and cameras as people clambered to document him and their closeness to him. Later, he took a ‘break’ by heading back to join DJ Whoo Kid at the DJ Booth to take shots and spin hits by his friends and collaborators.

Towards the end of his enduring 90 minute set, some of the crowd started to filter out early to beat traffic. When you’re as big as Waka Flocka is now, you’re bound to get some folks at your shows that aren’t true believers. Those people may have gotten out of the parking deck faster, but they missed something very special when Waka had all the lights turned off, to be lit only by everyone’s cell phone flashlights and lighters while he spun a freestyle about his childhood and the hardships he’s faced to get to his place now. When he was done, he handed off his microphone, walked off stage without a word and headed downstairs.

Backstage offered no rest for the wicked, though, because there were fans and hangers-on waiting for him, to be in his presence and to snap photos of and with him. And Waka has a presence, even off stage. He’s tall, lean, and handsome, with an attractive smile. The dressing room after the show was a mellow environment; fat blunts were passed around alongside bottles of liquor and delicious-looking cupcakes. Selfies were taken, assessed and re-taken, and there was a friendly conversation and laughter throughout the dressing room. I wandered out of the haze around 2 a.m., past the crews sweeping up the bottles, flyers and other post-concert detritus. I’m sure the party carried on, as Waka basked in the success of his concert and album release.

Live Review: Hozier and George Ezra at Atlanta’s Tabernacle

Review by Katie Flint, Photography by Danielle Boise

Last Friday (Friday the 13th of all days!), Ireland and UK’s Hozier and George Ezra played together for a sold out crowd at Atlanta’s famous Tabernacle. This show has been sold out for months, so being able to review this show was probably the biggest treat for me this week. I knew the big songs by these two singer/songwriters, but it was the lesser known songs by each are what melted me. My friend Diane and I went together, and headed upstairs into the mezzanine of the Tabernacle. As much as we would like to be in the pit downstairs, we decided we wanted to sit down and enjoy the music, and we did just that.

George Ezra was up first. I was personally more excited for him than I was for Hozier. After watching his SNL performance, I wasn’t sure how he would be live. Anyway, George Ezra comes on and starts playing his first song “Cassy O” and immediately the women in the audience are in love. He can play a guitar very well, but the boy has some pipes. And normally a so-called “attractive singer” from my perspective has been a tenor/baritone when it comes to vocal section. I’m pretty sure George Ezra is a bass because he can hit those low notes.

He started playing “Listen to The Man” and he started to open up more the audience. He must have been nervous, but that’s okay; he was great anyway. What was really nice about his performance was that there wasn’t a lot of material, but there was a lot of context in his material. His first album was all about his travels in Europe, hence the namesakes “Barcelona” and “Budapest.” The story behind “Budapest” was pretty funny, and as a person he just seems like a good kid doing what he loves.

He ended is surprisingly short set with an extended version of “Did you Hear The Rain?” which started with a long a capella intro, showcasing that voice as golden as his hair. Everyone in the venue was about to bow down to that voice. We were definitely not worthy.

Hozier was up next. His set up was a lot bigger than George’s, which included also a cello, synths and two backup singers. I wish that we had just him, but knowing his inspiration from choral music, the backup singers of different octaves made sense.

He started his set with “Angel of Small Death and the Codeine Scene” which changed the atmosphere of the concert from upbeat acoustics to a passionate blues-rock show. With every song that Hozier played, everyone around me went nuts, which was good for him, but for me it was a little overwhelming. I wanted to just sit and relax to the beautiful music.

As he went through his set, one thing I noticed is that he didn’t talk much in between songs. He only really talked before “Someone New” and “In A Week” where it had to do with love. Which indicates where a good percentage of his music may be stemming from, but whose music isn’t?

He ended his initial set with his biggest hit, “Take Me to Church” and everyone stood up to give praise to Hozier. As he left, he got ready for a long four-song encore. The encore included an intimate performance of “Cherry Wine” paired with an homage to his cover from BBC One Radio, “Problem” by Ariana Grande. I felt like I was one of the few that noticed that he added a hint of “Regulate” by Warren G while singing “Problem.” Well played, Hozier.

The show as a whole was a perfect example on how successful these two gentlemen have become. If you didn’t get a chance to see Hozier last night, he’s coming back in May! He’ll be playing May 8 at Chastain Park Amphitheater a little further out from the city. You can get tickets here.

Full Photo Gallery of Hozier

Full Photo Gallery of George Ezra