As the world continues to mourn live music, Styx drummer Todd Sucherman fondly recalled a charitable pre-show ritual from his early days with the band: upgrading “super fans” to primo seats.
During Sucherman’s first tour with Styx in 1996, opening for Kansas, the newcomer was practically invisible. “I was the new guy, stepping in for John Panozzo, so I could walk around the venue completely unnoticed,” he wrote in a lengthy Facebook post. “It was basically pre-internet; I wasn’t in any band promotional photos.”
So he used that anonymity for a good cause. If there were any unused comp tickets — “usually in the first 10 rows and occasionally in the very first row” — at a given show, he’d partner with Keith Marks, the band’s assistant tour manager, to pass them out to hardcore fans. The pair would walk through the lawn section of outdoor venues trying to spot “contestants” who fit the bill. (It “wasn’t a hot-chick thing or whatever you might be thinking,” he clarified.)
“[We’d] walk up to them and say, ‘Hey, would you like seats in the pavilion? We have two tickets we aren’t using,'” he wrote. “Every single time, the two soon-to-be-lucky concert-goers would look at each other and then look at us suspiciously. ‘You … aren’t using them?’ ‘No, you can have them if you want … here.’ We would put a pair of tickets in one of their hands as both of their faces formed confused smiles. Then as we’d walk away, we’d hear a cautious and uncomfortable ‘thanks’ from the stunned fans sitting on their lawn blanket. Now the fun would start.”
Sucherman and Marks would then “scurry” to the venue’s far-side walkway and head toward the stage, monitoring the delighted confusion of the fans as they marched closer and closer.
“Then they’d hit the final usher guarding the inner most circle — and they would end up in the very first row,” the drummer continued. “They would explode into high fives, jumping up and down and hugging each other in celebration and in total disbelief that two random people just handed them front row tickets. Keith and I would look at each other and smile, feeling quite satisfied, and we’d head backstage to prepare for the show.”
Sucherman would always scan the crowd during Styx’s first song and make eye contact with the fans — “give them some sort of wink or ‘what’s up’ head gesture while playing from behind the drums.” He added, “What fun that was! … I miss being able to do that. I really miss all of it right now.”
In May, Sucherman told Sonic Perspectives that, prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Styx were set to start recording a follow-up to 2017’s The Mission. “Had life gone on in normal fashion, my drum tracks would have been recorded in Nashville two weeks ago,” he said. “They aren’t recorded, and most of the guys haven’t recorded their parts either, so it’s still largely demos at this point. They need to be done, and that will happen when we are safely able to get to it.”