On a night in Philly this will be a first for me. Mister headbanger himself and his wife take off to see SKILLET and three other bands. Me being the hardcore metal head but open to just about anything decided to jaunt out to see a Christian show with headliners SKILLET, HAWK NELSON, DECYFER DOWN and THE LETTER BLACK.
I can’t believe this is happening. I’ve seen so many shows in my life starting with Alice Cooper, KISS, KING DIAMOND, SLAYER, METALLICA and a slew of others but me at a Christian show, well it happened. SKILLET is my wife’s favorite band or one of her favorites so I contacted our good friend Ben over at Total Assault and he took good care of us.
We recently reviewed the latest SKILLET CD “Awake” and it was amazing getting 5 Stars on our site but could they measure up live. This will also be the first time going to The Electric Factory and as I read different reviews about the venue and staff I must admit I wasn’t too happy. I heard pitiful things about the sound, parking and staff but I also heard things have upgraded and you will read that at the end of the review.
Well we got there at 5:30 doors opened at 5. The show being sponsored by Creation opened the show with a short prayer. The first band to take the stage was THE LETTER BLACK. Now not knowing their music I can’t tell you about the songs. I can tell you their set started at 6pm and the place was basically SOLD OUT. The band is fronted by female vocalist Sarah Anthony that has some great pipes. For an opening act that usually fans show no mercy I thought they got a good reception. They play straight forward rock alternative music, two guitarists Mark Anthony and TJ, bass Matt Beal and drums Mat Slagle. They had good stage presences with a lot of movement. They played about a 25 minute set and it looked to me they won the crowd over. I would go see these guys again anytime.
Next up DECYFER DOWN all I can say impressive and once they draped there backdrop logo the hall went nuts. Looks to me these boys have some following. Vocalist TJ Harris vocals were on fire, this boy can sing and what a band backing him. Guitarist Brandon Mills dawning the dreads and guitarists Chris Clonts with the Mr. Clean look. Both guitarists stepped it up and knock out one great set. DECYFER DOWN play a slight heaver sound than THE LETTER BLACK and as I said most impressive and would love to see these guys again. They have a new release called “Crash” I recommend picking this one up.
Next up Canada’s HAWK NELSON now regardless of my views I thought they were good but more of a draw for the younger kids. These guys won favorite New Artist" by CCM Magazine back in 09 and I can see why, huge following and nonstop pummeling of the stage, running back and forth with lead vocalist Jason Dunn being a madman even jumping into the crowd during one song. Listening to their set they remind me of a more modern GREENDAY.
Now being a KISS fan back in the day I compare everything to those shows. I know it’s not right but I do. Well the time has come to make my wife squirm. She saw them last year at Revelation Generation but that was on a huge scale now it’s time to see SKILLET in a 2,800 filled hall. For me it’s a first and really didn’t know what to expect. SKILLET played for over an hour with lead vocalists, bassist John Cooper being on icon on stage, at time making the hair on the back of my neck stand straight up. See I’m a hard ass and like all kinds of music from pop, rock, death metal, melodic, acoustic almost everything but never Christian music. I will tell you right here these guys blew me away and already was looking for more tour dates in our area so we can go again with our friends and family, (THAT’S IMPRESSIVE)! I simply loved the music, the band and the atmosphere. Great light show, dry ice machines that spewed out huge fast streams of smoke it was unbelievable. I know some of the songs from videos and we did review the last two CD with AWAKE being just released. I really don’t know what to say, all the members were outstanding and to see a violin and cello rock out like that floored me. They had risers like KISS does and to see member raise to the top of the venue, guitarists and orchestra members Jonathan Chu on violin and Tate Olsen dressed in there white shirts and black vest gave a new meaning to Christian music to me and they really seemed to enjoy it. It’s not like let’s go out there and make a buck violinist Chu was singing along to all the songs that Cooper sung. Just phenomenal and just writing this I am still getting chills how good SKILLET is. Songs like “Monster”, “Hero” and “Lucy” off the “Awake” CD blew me away. John Cooper talking to the crowd about the world we live in and the turmoil the state is in but there is always someone to look for with open arms and that is our Lord. He is there when your down, he is there no matter what and every person means something in this world.
Cooper also did a little bit of BON JOVI’s “I’ll Be There For You” acoustically. Korey Cooper go ahead try and get a photo of her, the adrenaline she must have on stage is massive, swaying, running, going to the floor playing guitar, playing synthesizer and looking good in one, Now that’s a woman of rock.
The song I really wanted to hear was “Hero” because I love the vocals of new member drummer Jen Ledger. I love when a band has dual vocals and Ledger seeming being a little shy on stage blast out some of the best vocals I’ve heard when accompanying Cooper. I’m mean BLEW me away. The last song being an Encore was “Rebirthing” the crowd went NUTS. What a show, I highly recommend you picking up the new CD “Awake” and catching SKILLET on tour. If you’re looking for great music, great stage show and presence this is the tour of the year. I know KISS is out on tour but been there done that many times and I was looking for something new and fresh and SKILLET is what I was looking for and I saw the light.
Now a little about the fans, the staff and the venue. First the fans I’ve never been to a show where the fans conducted themselves in such an emotional yet stable manner. The fans were polite, respectful yet enjoying themselves rocking out.
The Venue and staff, I thought the venue was very good, the sound quality was also very good. The Electric Factory had more than enough parking and they didn’t rip you off. A mere $10.00 for the night compared to NYC $30.00 seems good to me. The staff were fantastic, helpful, polite and we even had a lot of help in questions and things like that from venue staffer T. All in all it was a great night out. The Awake and Alive tour is a tour where you can take you whole family and enjoy and watching John Cooper working the fans is a sight. I can foresee SKILLET as the next super group they are that impressive. Can I have an AMEN!