Epicenter 2011 featured an eclectic mix of various acts. Skillet was something of a dark horse entry with many not having heard of them. Meanwhile, others were there mainly for that band, wore Skillet t-shirts, and sang along to every lyric of every song.
Skillet has gone through quite a few iterations since their start in the mid-90s. Yep, that’s right, they’ve been around for 15 years or so. Their sound today is tough, heavy, grungy, metallic, and powerful. I’ll be honest in saying that I sort of miss their industrial grunge sound that reminded me of Skinny Puppy, Depeche Mode, Nitzer Ebb, and Nirvana all rolled up into one. But they’ve gone a bit prog in good and exciting ways by adding a violinist and cellist live. I hope KROQ will play some of their stuff.
Their performance was powerful – whether you are into their message or not. But let’s face it, many rock people don’t mind a side of Jesus. Quite a few bands have delved into spiritual questing – even bands once popular on KROQ like Echo and the Bunnymen. Others, the Fishfest crowd, like some Jesus as a main course with a side of rock – even something as heavy as Skillet.
If it weren’t for lead singer John Cooper pausing a moment to say something about God, you would never have guessed that they identify with the “Christian” scene. They are an act completely without the cheesiness many have come to expect. They have been nominated for a Grammy and multiple Dove Awards. (Dove Awards are like Christian Grammys.)
Skillet aren’t separatists when it comes to music. They’ve toured with Papa Roach, Staind, and Puddle of Mudd and those bands in turn have toured with other bands playing the festival. Everyone seemed pretty happy to be performing together again.
There were quite a few things that thrilled me about them live. John Cooper’s vocals are amazing. Their songs “Hero” and “Monster” lit up the stage. They changed formations and used various levels to add some excitement. They were expressive and photogenic. Guitarist Korey Cooper could bend backwards and get up without missing a beat on guitar. Drummer Jen Ledger pounded her kit and sang with gusto.
Skillet were the only band to have females in their group, so I feel extra good about supporting them – especially when they are outrageously talented. And, apparently, marriage rocks when you are a Cooper. John and Korey have been married and performing together for quite some time. They seem like the best of friends, too.
There were quite a few comments about the respective hotness of various members of the band which was amusing in some respects. They are also supernice and down to earth if you ever get a chance to meet them.
Hopefully they’ll be coming back to Cali soon. Please check out the slideshow photos and the video. Their video for “Hero” gives a great taste of their awesomeness. Some photos were great, but there was alot of backlighting since it was the middle of the day.