(Victor Valley)– The grandstands at the San Bernardino County Fair were packed with thousands of Panheads, the dedicated fans of Christian hard rock band Skillet. All ages, all ethnicities, the crowd was ready for the man who came out to let them know that they were in for a “great message of truth.” Cheering as violinist John Chu and cellist Tate Olsen took the stage, the building power of the songs exploded into strong percussion from drummer Jen Ledger and a song that nearly the entire audience was singing.
Lead singer and founding member John Hooper clearly knows how to move the audience. At one point, he turned the tables on the audience, many of whom were filming the concert with their phones, by turning his cell phone on the audience and telling them to “say hello to YouTube!” The nearly fifteen years experience in touring is evident in the solid performance. Guitarist, keyboardist and Cooper’s wife Korey Cooper kept the energy high, whipping her hair in a classic headbanger move that many in the audience emulated. Newly added lead guitarist Seth Morrison also lent his solid energy to the performance, though he has only been with the band a few months.
Josh Adams of Victorville is part of the adult leadership of Calvary Chapel of Hesperia’s youth group, who sponsored this free concert as an outreach to youth. “I listened to them in high school, but haven’t listened much since then. I liked them a lot live! Really high production value!” Alfred Hernandez, also of Victorville, explained that Calvary Chapel has been reaching out to High Desert youth for the last week or so, inviting them to come to the concert and enjoy a positive concert as well as hear the gospel. ”
The high energy kept the audience screaming for the hour-long show. Fireworks and smoke punctuated the songs perfectly, raising the crowd to a fever pitch. Clear crowd favorites like “Hero”, “Monster”, “Lucy”, “The Last Night”, “Awake and Alive” and “Those Nights” kept the show moving with a mix of power ballads and heavy metal anthems.
Fourteen-year-old Anthony Acevez of Hesperia was a newly converted fan of Skillet. “I actually like their lyrics,” he said. “They have meaning.” As one who was rocking out to the music, he clearly enjoyed a lot more than just the lyrics. Ezekiel Burciaga, 10, of Victorville also enjoyed the show, citing the lyrics and violinist who took the classical music to a dramatic and hard edge. Whether they came for the music or the message, the concert was clearly a hit with thousands. “I came to the fair to listen to them tonight,” shared fan Wendy Watson, 29, of Victorville. “They’re good! And the music is Christian but its different Christian music – it appeals to the young people.”