As the godfathers of the progressive-rock movement, it’s easy to imagine the pair of Styx and Yes as Statler and Waldorf from “The Muppet Show,” hanging out in the balcony, ragging on the young guns offering their new takes on prog rock (or music in general).
That’s hardly the case. “There are bands that have really expanded what we did, bands like Dream Theater and Porcupine Tree,” Yes drummer Alan White said. “We really, really love Tool. There are a few groups in that vein that are really trying to do something different.”
Added Styx bassist Ricky Phillips, “It had been so long since I’d seen something that made me excited for music again, but lately, it seems like every time I turn on the radio or latenight talk show, I’m finding someone that makes me fall in love with music again. The prog music I see now is being changed up, not regurgitated, and that’s exactly how it’s supposed to be. Even a band like Muse, I dig them because they cross all sorts of lines. It’s nice to see something taken and reintroduced in a new light.”
Still, it’s hard for them to resist to show the new blood how it’s done, and that’s exactly what the two seminal rock bands are doing on their cur rent tour, “One for the Ages,” which lands Saturday at Zoo Amphitheatre.
The ’70s and ’80s were more than kind to Styx, whose iconic back catalog includes major chart hits — even cultural landmarks — like “Renegade,” “Mr. Roboto” and “Come Sail Away.”
Yes enjoyed similar success in the same era, and while the group’s more lengthy tunes were less geared toward radio play, they still landed a massive smash in 1983’s “Owner of a Lonely Heart,” a No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart.
While Styx skews more pop and Yes more experimental, both are using the occasion to showcase their prog-rock roots. The mix seems a potent one.
“People have found it to be an interesting combination,” Phillips said. “There’s a complement there that’s surprising to fans of both of us. What it is, people get involved in the show. It’s kind of a journey, which is nice. It’s not a bunch of pop songs one after the next. This is a different experience.”
Both have been perpetually touring the last decade with the energy and dedication of bands a quarter of their age. Yes has a new album to play in support of to boot; “Fly From Here” — the act’s first disc in 10 years — was released last month.
“We’ve been touring a lot the past few years, so we liked the opportunity to get a little new material out there,” White said. “This one has got inflections of the ‘Drama’ period of the ’80s … it’s sort of a combination of all the old Yes albums, actually.”
Styx hasn’t released a full-length album since 2006 — ceaseless touring with Journey, Foreigner and Def Leppard has kept the group more than busy — but it still looks at tours like this to show off unrecorded tracks and show the up-and-comers that rock isn’t necessarily just a young man’s game anymore.
“These big tours … it’s alliance that happens, for the most part. We want them to kick ass every bit as much as we are,” Phillips said. “The bands that have seemed to survive are the ones that have upped the game and upped the ante. They aren’t cashing in on the same old catalog.”Editor's note: Free misting stations and water stations will be available throughout the park during the show.