Skillet and Empire Live: Win-Win By: Brasi Hyatt

Written by on October 12, 2021

Skillet – the successful Grammy-nominated hard rock band currently on tour pushing their upcoming record “Dominion” – somehow balances the required amount of rock and roll hubris, promotion, imaging, and messaging with their faith. That’s as good of a reason as any to go check them out. 

The band made Empire Live (Albany) rumble happily on Sept. 15. Skillfully blasting out their string of super-successful hard rock anthems like Awake and Alive, Hero, and Monster, they had the enthusiastic crowd easily in their hands 30 seconds into the set. Lead man John Cooper often engaged in some friendly banter with an adoring crowd, his experienced showmanship and pyrotechnic magic making for a tasty rock and roll gravy over Skillet’s tastefully-made mashed potatoes. 

The band’s ensemble has talent at all positions. Guitarist Seth Morrison’s licks had the female teen portion of the crowd swooning, while Ledger and Korey Cooper held it down, and very well while Cooper roamed. The male teenage angsters gave my camera their horns, bobbing along to the crunch. It was good times, and these are not casual fans, that’s evident. People love this band, and their mom and dad are cool with it too. That’s Skillet’s thing.  

Much of modern rock  (and rap) is so infused with Cardi-Besque sexual imagery and Instagram filter slickery that you can’t get past the cleavage. I mean, if that’s your thing, cool. But the story here is that Skillet leaves that stuff out. The crowd at the show was a mix of families, couples, and teens. These folks would think it was awesome if you brought your mom to the show. And what’s wrong with digesting a little wholesomeness along with your guitar riffs? Nothing. It was fun hanging out with the Skillet fam!

It’s good, clean fun, and surprisingly, it sells. 16 million album sales later since forming in 2004, Skillet remains one of the most prolific touring acts on the national festival stage despite carrying a Christian message. They manage to cut through the noise of a hyper-sexualized rock/rap music landscape by sticking to their guns. In 2021, to me, that’s well worth a look. I’m glad I went. This show was a sold out event.

Surprise of note: the absurdly charismatic opening act Eva Under Fire. They were stellar, with lots of sparse, thick riffs, click-perfect breakdowns, and frontwoman Amanda Lyberg is as kind as she is dominant on stage. She told me after the show that she “feels blessed.” Why? After this tour with Skillet, Eva Under Fire heads out on the road with Theory of a Dead Man. They’ve also supported Black Stone Cherry.


The tea on the new Empire Live venue: amazing. This space is meant for this. Great sight lines, theater sound, high ceilings, clarity, and plenty of space to pull back and take a sip if you need to. In my humble opinion, Empire Live hit a home run. Check out a show, grab a bite, get a drink, walk back to your hotel. Empire Live is located perfectly, and the lineup they’ve put together this fall is delicious. Thank you, Ted and all of the staff!

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