Photos by Brandon “B-Mac” McCarthy & Matt “Rabit” Martinez
It is always wonderful to be back at the City National Grove in Anaheim, Calif. It is one of the
best venues for a concert in Orange County. Matt Martinez and I got to attend a show that
featured a band that is very close to my soul: Skillet. This is one of the most exciting Christian
rock/metal groups in the music scene today. They were joined on tour with Australian rock trio
Sick Puppies and Memphis, Tenn. powerhouse Devour the Day. All these bands performed to a
sellout crowd at The Grove that night, which came alive by the energy all around.
Hard rock/alternative metal newcomers Devour the Day were the first to take the stage. On the
road celebrating their sophomore release S.O.A.R., these guys know how to put on a rock ‘n’ roll
show. Lead singer/guitarist Blake Allison had such a commanding presence with the crowd.
There was one point during the show where he actually crowd surfed. It is always fun to watch a
frontman do that; it was like he developed a special connection with the fans. His voice is very
soulful, with some harsh/raspy quality to it. To me, he is a mixture of Myles Kennedy and Corey
Taylor. Both Allison and lead guitarist David Hoffman traded off riffs, which drove the crowd
mad with excitement. With solid drum work by Ronnie Farris and infectious bass beats by Joey
“Chicago” Walser, Devour the Day rocked the house with outstanding tunes from “The Bottom,”
to “Save Yourself,” to “You and Not Me.” They may have only put out two albums so far, but
they played like veteran rock stars.
Up next came Australia’s favorite trio Sick Puppies. Recently, the band went through a line-up
change with vocalist/guitarist/co-founder Shimon Moore departing the group back in 2014. With
the addition of their new frontman Bryan Scott, he brought new life to the band with Fury. These
three talented musicians brought some cool, hard rock edginess to Anaheim. I was mesmerized
by bassist Emma Anzai. Providing a little funkiness when she slapped her bass, she was like Flea
and Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu rolled into one. The fans embraced Scott and his righteous voice.
Drummer Mark Goodwin played with such aggression and grace behind the kit. From the classic
“Riptide” to the newest hit “Stick to Your Guns” (which featured Devour’s Blake Allison on
vocals), Sick Puppies have not lost their touch. The most memorable moment of the performance
came when the group played “Maybe” and the crowd turned on their cell phone flashlights to
wave side to side. That does not happen very often. Sick Puppies are back and better than ever!
Finally coming to the stage was the headliner Skillet. I have wanted to see these guys since
2009’s Awake. Having just put out Unleashed, Skillet performed a fantastic set the crowd went
crazy for. Starting things off with their new hit single “Feel Invincible,” the group the crowd
going with a bang. Bassist/vocalist John Cooper was an excellent showman up there with his
awesome bass playing and powerful vocals. The Almighty Lord blessed him and drummer Jen
Ledger with a set of great pipes, which they both demonstrated that night. Not only that, Ledger
was exhilarating behind the drum kit. Guitarist Seth Morrison was a riff maestro, playing solos
that gave me goose bumps. Guitarist/keyboardist Korey Cooper was electric the entire
performance. Though they have been around since 1996, Skillet only played songs from 2006’s
Comatose to Unleashed. For a Christian band, they have an array of songs that appeal to
everybody of all races and religions. The best songs of the night were “Hero,” “Undefeated,”
“Sick of It,” and “Monster.” Skillet displayed showmanship as well as musicianship, with the
inclusion of smoke machines that added to their stage presence and two raising platforms.
The Holy Spirit was alive that night.
As I said before, the Grove was lit up with some great rock ‘n’ roll! Skillet lived up to my
expectations, Sick Puppies blew the crowd away, and Devour the Day grabbed my attention.
With each band performing with tremendous charisma and energy, it was a show that will stand
out to me for quite a while. Devour is now one of my new favorite acts to watch out for in the
future. Skillet will soon hit the road with Korn, Stone Sour, and Babymetal as one of many
groups on the Serenity of Summer Tour. This was one concert Anaheim, Calif. was proud to
host. To Skillet, Sick Puppies, and Devour the Day, I salute you. Horns up!!!