It’s not as though the progressive rock band “Yes” hasn’t sold an album or two. Try 14 million.
Sure, it’s not the Beatles or Rolling Stones. But the Grammy-winning English group founded way back in 1968 is a 2017 Rock Hall of Fame inductee.
Among the band’s fan base for decades is Gary Hobish, a bass player, vocalist and producer from San Francisco that didn’t sit back, idly admiring these lads from London. He started a tribute band nearly seven years ago — “Shine Delirious” — strictly by chance.
“It was supposed to be a ‘one-off’ show,” Hobish said, gathering musicians he secured online for a fundraiser.
“Some of us didn’t even know each other,” Hobish said. “We put it together from a website for a school charity.”
Four rehearsals later, they’re playing the Great American Music Hall in San Francisco.
“We loved it so much, we kept playing,” Hobish said.
With that seventh anniversary a month away, Shine Delirious sets up at the Bay Area Stage Theatre in Vallejo this Saturday, opening for Zoltar in the 80-seat venue that normally houses Bay Area Stage’s theatrical productions.
Zoltar covers progressive rock tunes, though not likely and anything from Yes for the 8 p.m. performance.
It’ll be a refreshing venue “instead of playing a club in a bar atmosphere,” Hobish said. “Every venue is different. They all have their little quirks.”
In the 80-seat Bay Area Stage Theatre, “we won’t need that much” by way of sound equipment, Hobish said. “We can have a nice, balanced approach to the sound that serves this music well. It’s pretty melodic with a lot of harmonies. People will be there — we hope — that are interested in the music and want to listen to it and not socialize like they would at a bar.”
A Yes fan “is certainly musically astute,” believes Hobish. “They’re very enthusiastic. They know the music almost as much as we do so we better do it well. That’s the challenge. And they come in all ages, all sizes and shapes.”
There’s a dearth of Yes tribute bands in part because “it’s extremely challenging music,” Hobish said.
A few of songs are nearly 20 minutes.
“It requires a lot of dedication in order to pull off the music,” Hobish said. “You’ve got to be a band that’s able to communicate. It takes a lot of practice.”
Hobish has seen the original Yes band “close to 70 times,” he said, going back to Dec. 5, 1971 when Hobish was a college freshman.
The group’s album, “Fragile,” was huge in England but had yet hit the U.S.
“It kicked it off for me right away,” Hobish said.
Every time Hobish sees Yes live, he learns about the music and the presentation.
“It’s living, breathing music and it changes when you play it live,” Hobish said. “There’s a challenge to not making it the same every time and Yes usually rises to the occasion.”
Hobish understands his spot in the music food chain as a tribute band performer.
“We’re not pretending to be Yes,” he said. “We’re ourselves. We’re playing music we love.”
Formally fronting a punk band, Hobish said he’s “never been adept at writing myself, but I love a good song no matter who wrote it. A good song is always a good song.”
Hobish is also a realist.
“People have come up to us and have said they like us better than the actual band. That’s amazing to hear, but I take it with a grain of salt,” Hobish said. “Maybe they heard Yes later in their careers and they don’t feel they captured the magic that they did in their heyday or whatever they saw when they were younger.”
The best compliments?
“When people tell us that our music made them recall the feelings that they got when they saw the original band,” Hobish said. “There’s not a better compliment we get than that.”
Zoltar and Yes performing progressive rock at the Bay Terrace Theatre, 515 Broadway St., Vallejo, this Saturday, Jan. 11, 8 p.m. Admission $15 at the door. For more, visit bayareastage.org.