Story by Spencer Fleming All photos provided by Andy and Tamara Photography
Sokol was the place to be Friday night (2/7) as Skillet made their way through Omaha on the second night of their Victorious tour.
When I checked Ticketmaster Thursday night the show was completely sold out. This was quickly evidenced after I pulled up to Sokol and saw the line was waaay down the block. After parking a couple blocks away and huffing it up and over the hill I got through the line and into the toasty venue. Concert tip: Don't think you're slick and park at Burger King across the street from Sokol. They live to see cars getting towed on concert nights. I speak from experience and feel it's my civic duty to hopefully prevent it from happening to you.
Ok, now that my PSA is out of the way, on to the show! I arrived just as the opening band Ledger was starting their set. Now, I've known about Skillet's music for quite a while, but this was my first time attending one of their shows. So, I was surprised to learn that Ledger is a side project of Skillet drummer Jennifer Ledger. As a lead singer, Jennifer showed she can stretch her musical range belting out 80s-tinged pop rock numbers reminiscent of Heart, Pat Benatar, and Patty Smyth. The crowd was having a blast getting primed for a night of rock during Ledger's 30-minute set.
Next up was From Ashes to New out of Lancaster, PA. These guys have been building up steam over the last couple years. They had a monster hit in 2019 "Going Crazy," and spent the fall on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, Bad Wolves, and Three Days Grace. Doing some research, I was stoked to see that FATN has a small Omaha connection in guitarist Lance Dowdle. Lance's former band Emphatic originated in Omaha. Lance was only with Emphatic for a short time and they've since morphed into Through Fire, but it's cool to see those little links in the music universe.
FATN had a lot of energy right out of the gate. Opening with their latest single "Broken" the band had everyone on their feet with fists in the air. One lady in the balcony was singing along and rocking so hard I thought she was going to flip over the railing and land on the people below! On the other side of the balcony a group of kids no older than ten waved along to the radio friendly banger.
Taking a note from Linkin Park, FATN mixed up clean singing choruses with rap rock verses and heavy breakdowns. At one point, I heard a breakdown pattern that was almost an exact lift from Linkin Park's "Forgotten." It's all good though. If you think about it, it's been 20 years since Hybrid Theory. With millions of copies sold it's no coincidence that you're hearing LP inspired riffs and vocals in today's music. Maybe FATN can buy Mike Shinoda a sandwich the next time they see him.
FATN is putting in work building their audience and I'm sure they'll be doing big things over the next few years.
After a long break, it was time for the headliner Skillet. Corey and Stephanie "Boss Lady Man" from 89.7 The River came out to welcome the band and throw out t-shirts. The crowd went nuts when they heard there are two concert announcements coming very soon. I doubt it will happen, but fingers crossed Deftones are involved. I can always dream, right?
Skillet walked out onto one of the most elaborate stages I've ever seen hosted at Sokol. It's not the most elaborate, I think that title goes to Yelawolf with his car and giant speakers, but it was still pretty cool. Skillet had eight L.E.D. panels across the back of the stage and risers that lifted in the air. As they launched into the opening song "Feel Invincible" lyrics and lightning flashed across the light panels. The crowd screamed with excitement as Skillet brought the thunder!
For the next song "Not Gonna Die" Skillet brought out a cello player and he would stay for the majority of the show. It was an added layer of sound that helped take the songs to a new level.
In addition to the crazy light show, one of the coolest elements was John Cooper's cryoblasters. It wasn't the first time I had seen something like this, but it always makes the crowd light up. The kids in the balcony were losing their minds as John sprayed the people on the floor with blasted air.
The band played five tracks from their latest release Victorious but stuck to the hits for much of the set. Towards the end lead singer John mentioned that the band surveyed fans on what they wanted to hear for the tour. One of the deeper cuts that won in the polling was 2006's "Comatose." Skillet followed up with one of their biggest hits "Monster," and played one more song before the final encore. The band closed the show with "The Resistance" from the 2016 album Unleashed.
As the crowd filed out with t-shirts, posters, and CDs in tow I asked, "What did you think of the show?" Young Corbin and his dad were super stoked. Corbin had a brand-new Skillet shirt and a drum stick. They started in the back of the room but Corbin insisted they get as close to the action as possible. They worked their way to the front and rocked out for the rest of the show! With a giant smile Corbin held his highly coveted drum stick close. Thanks to Skillet for giving Corbin and so many others such an awesome experience!
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