Out in the Styx

Aging bands + offbeat venues = interesting concerts

Huge stadium concerts can be a drag. The sound sucks. The band is so far away that the musicians look like gyrating ants. Tickets cost a fortune. What's a fan to do?

The smart thing is to wait 20 years until the popularity of your favorite monsters of rock wanes enough that they end up playing smaller venues in smaller towns.

Take '80s prog-hair-elevator-rock-opera pseudo-fusionists Styx,for example. Back in the States from a European tour, Styx is currently winding through the sticks, hitting places like the Elkhart County Fair in Indiana and the Chanute Municipal Airport in Kansas. Here in South Florida, the band is thrilled to hit Hollywood's Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino -- one of a handful of indoor, air-conditioned venues on its summer schedule.

Styx's Tommy Shaw is looking for a good gig.
Michael Bush
Styx's Tommy Shaw is looking for a good gig.
Christopher Smith
Joe Rocco

Of course, the Seminole is the exception to the rule. Most venues Styx and other fallen-from-glory dinosaurs play don't sport indoor plumbing, let alone wall-to-wall carpeting and Keno. Below is an Outtakes-compiled list of South Florida's most infamous, off-kilter shows, just to remind you young'uns how good you got it today.

The Scorpions at the Pompano State Farmers Market, August '92.The "Winds of Change" were blowing, but even they couldn't puff up these deflated German windbags. When Hurricane Andrew literally raised the roof during "Rock You Like a Hurricane," remaining fans looted merch stands for commemorative, screen-printed zucchini.

"Weird" Al Yankovic at the Florida Swap Shop Circus, September '99. Parodies from "Amish Paradise" to "Smells Like Nirvana" to "Eat It" won over a tough crowd initially more interested in the Bling Booth than the quirky accordionist. A triumphant Yankovic left with fronts and a perm.

Tesla at the CityPlace Fountain, July '01.It was a five-man acoustical jam, all right, but this overheated, midsummer gig by the group famous for covering "Signs" was a sign itself. Two local seniors were hospitalized for heat stroke, several pairs of cotton-poly pants spontaneously combusted inside Armani Exchange, and a toddler was briefly misplaced under guitarist Tommy Skeotch's cascading locks. No more rock at CityPlace.

PM Dawn on the front steps of the Lake Worth Shriners' Club, January '95.Crystal-kissing hip-hop heads were disappointed when they read the band's name on fliers and couldn't figure out what time to show up. Bemused, befezzed Shriners canceled the show and threw a keg bash instead.

Whitesnake, White Lion, and Great White inside a Port Everglades shipping container, May '04. These three faux-metal giants had such a hard time landing a gig that they were relegated to a 10-by-10-by-40-foot steel box. Great White's pyrotechnics were flawless, sadly sparing the bands and their lone, toothless fan from their inevitable fate. -- Steve Koppelman Styx, REO Speedwagon (REO Speedwagon!), and the Outlaws play at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 12, at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino's Hard Rock Live Arena, 1 Seminole Blvd., Hollywood. Tickets cost $30 to $60. Call 954-523-3309.Sonic Surgery

As a medical doctor, I'm fully committed to the cause of progressive research. Hell, I'm for anything that'll make my job easier. Therapeutic ointments, therapeutic cloning -- it's all good. That said, I'm staunchly opposed to reproductive cloning -- specifically, the age-old music industry practice of pop-star manufacturing. The days are gone when cloning was done in a few industry-owned laboratories. Somewhere along the way, the original stem cells for idol-quality genes were bought by the Fox network for its televised experiment, American Idol, and its live counterpart, Pop-Tarts Presents American Idols Live.

Like the short-lived sheep clone Dolly, life expectancy of Idol clones is tragically short. In fact, out of the entire group of cells cloned each year, only one survives as a bonafide idol. While this year's chosen specimen, Carrie Underwood, is already topping the charts, it's only a matter of time before her DNA unravels.

Until then, she and the rest of the control group are touring the country, flaunting their second-tier chromosomes. Take the two strains of rocker cell -- the long-haired Bo Bice and Constantine Maroulis. They were doomed from the start; only so-called beautiful people can be idols. That left out the dreadlocked Anwar Robinson, who got the ax on (surprise!) 4/20. These four clones and six others play the Idols Live tour stop in South Florida.

And what about past Idol experiments? Fantasia's already reduced to singing at Fourth on Flagler in West Palm Beach, something even lower on the musical food chain than SunFest. The genetic mutation known as William Hung is opening for the Kids of Widney High. And as Corey Clark can attest, not even doing Paula Abdul (as he claims) will ensure a lasting future. Oh, and rumor also has it that Ruben Studdard is still involved in music, but all the gingko biloba in the world can't help me remember what that entails.

Perhaps it's premature touring that leads Idol clones to an early grave. Maybe it's the steady diet of sponsored Pop-Tarts. Either way, at least we know why these false idols thank the Lord for their unnatural existence. -- Doc Le Roc Findings: Coming soon: When Fox plays God. Diagnosis: Clone's disease. Treatment: Bring your unwanted stem cells for donation Tuesday, July 12, to the Office Depot Center (2555 Panthers Pkwy., Sunrise). Show starts at 7 p.m. Tickets cost $37.25 to $47.25. Visit www.ticketmaster.com, or call 954-835-8000.

Operation: XXXtina

From TIME magazine, June 12, 2005:

New York -- TIME has obtained the first documented look inside the classified realm of military interrogations. The document is a secret 84-page log that details the interrogation of "Detainee 063" at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. It's a remarkable look into the range of techniques and methods used for the interrogation of Mohammed al Qahtani, widely believed to be... a compatriot of Osama bin Laden and a man who tried to enter the U.S. in August 2001 to take part in the Sept. 11 attacks.

More Muscular Strategies: Al-Qahtani's resilience under pressure in the fall of 2002 led top officials at Gitmo to petition Washington for more muscular "counter resistance strategies." On Dec. 2, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld approved... coercive methods. [...] The quizzing now starts at midnight, and when Detainee 063 dozes off, interrogators rouse him by dripping water on his head or playing Christina Aguilera music.[Emphasis added.] July 7, 2005 Broward County -- Outtakes has obtained the first documented look at the Christina Aguilera playlist used to torture Detainee 063. The document is half a page long and contains selections culled from Aguilera's eponymously titled debut album and her most recent studio work, Stripped. It seems that after tracks such as "Come on Over (All I Want Is You)," "What a Girl Wants," and "Dirrty" failed to elicit information from an obviously pained al Qahtani, officials petitioned Rumsfeld for more muscular "Aguilera exasperation strategies." Rumsfeld approved four of seven stronger coercive tunes but said that forcing the prisoner to view photos of Aguilera's Maxim magazine photo shoot -- in which she poses in a pool with only an inner tube to cover her ferret-like figure -- would fall outside Geneva Convention standards on treatment of prisoners of war. Though her duet with Ricky Martin, "Nobody Wants to Be Lonely," caused 063 to beg for a swift bludgeoning, and "Ven Conmigo (Solamente Tú)" -- the Spanish version of "Come on Over" -- caused him to renounce Islam, it wasn't until "The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)" that the prisoner finally cracked. He proceeded to reveal the true reason he conspired to attack America: He feared that a solo album by Xtina -- Aguilera's "goth" alter ego -- was in the works. -- Ben Westhoff

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