WICHITA — Pillars of pulsing lights, rising and falling platforms and blasts of smoke generated by dry ice were a few of the effects Skillet used Thursday night to complement a high-octane performance at Hartman Arena.
The band hit the Park City venue as part of the Awake and Alive tour featuring Red and The Letter Black.
The Christian-influenced hard rock band made sure to provide visuals that were as hard-hitting as the buzz saw guitars and lead singer John Cooper's raspy and almost throat-scorching vocals.
It was evident in Skillet's opening song "Hero" that the performers were not just satisfied with providing the audience with a standard-issue rock show. Each time the band transitioned into the chorus, jet streams of smoke erupted from the stage, soaring to heights of at least 30 feet.
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A hardcore-influenced breakdown combined with violin and cello serenades in "Last Night" to reinforce the overall message of the concert — clean hard rock with a twist can work.
In an acoustic version of the song "Sandman," Michael Barnes, the lead singer from Red, joined Skillet in a moment that seemed more like an intimate jam session than a concert heard by more than 2,000 people.
Touring mates Red set the stage well for Skillet. The Tennessee-based band played seven songs before the headliners hit the stage, six of which combined the classical elements of string ensembles with riff-heavy and heart-pounding rock. Red may not have had the addition of live classical arrangements like Skillet, but its prerecorded strings and pianos still got the point across.
Barnes rarely missed a note and harmonized with bassist and guitarist brothers Randy and Anthony Armstrong to provide fresh and crisp vocals in a rock scene that tends to focus more on instrumentals and screaming.
That's not to say that their performance wasn't heavy enough to rattle the crowd. "Death of Me" provoked the concert's only mosh pit and the Armstrong brothers even left the stage and walked the aisles of Hartman Arena during the band's final song, "Breathe Into Me.'
The Letter Black opened with strong vocals by Sarah Anthony, who stunned the crowd with her screams. The band closed its performance with its single "Hanging on by a Thread," a song well-suited to Anthony's voice. Simple riffs and pounding drums gave the audience a taste of what was to come.