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From The Pit To The Crowd: Skillet with Devour The Day and The Reality Of Yourself (T.R.O.Y)

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Thursday, June 8th had a sold out show at House of Blues Orlando for the headliner Skillet. The band has performed in the Central Florida area over the past few months and this was an opportunity I was not going to miss. When I arrived at 6:30 PM the line for entry wrapped around the back of the House of Blues Orlando. The Skillet fans proudly wore their t-shirts and hats with excitement in their eyes. I was looking forward to seeing the band perform just as much as the fans were.

After picking up my photo credentials and clearing through security, I squeezed my way through the crowd, literally. Even being so early it was shoulder to shoulder standing room inside. The last times I remember it this crowded was for Sister Hazel and before that Breaking Benjamin. I made it over to the pit entrance prepping my cameras from what I could already sense to be an electric show.  Two of my photographer friends, Jen and Savannah, were also here that night to cover this show. By 7:30 PM the House of Blues Orlando was jammed packed and the first band came out onstage.

The Reality Of Yourself, better known as T.R.O.Y was first onstage. The band that formed in 2004 from Pleasant Hope, MO has been gathering attention on stage touring with bands such as Korn, Three Days Grace, and Breaking Benjamin. T.R.O.Y consists of Cord Bishop (vocals/guitar), Kane Ransom (bass), Kyle Girth (guitar), and Erik Milan (drums). Cheers from the crowd proved they already had made an impact to part of the Orlando crowd, though I assumed a majority of them were unfamiliar with the band.

The starting off with “Love Hate Death” from their 2015 EP ‘Two Worlds’. Though it’s a short song, it is great work by T.R.O.Y. It’s fast, hard hitting, excellent guitar riffs, and Cord’s vocals are great. It was a good start to get the crowd riled up and into their set. They followed it with “Silent Harmony” from their first album in 2008 ‘Effective Immediately’. I loved the opening to this song as it’s about 1 minute and 15 seconds of rock music with Cord, Kane, and Kyle all gathering center stage to play in unison. And Cord finally lets loose to truly show off his vocal chops.

They followed up with “Wicked World”. It’s a slower song, but definitely shows the range and versatility Cord’s voice can handle and provide. I exited the pit after the song and headed upstairs for a few shots. They continued through their set with “Revolution”, “Out There”, and “Reckoning”. The House of Blues Orlando crowd was loving this band and so was I. But, it was the closer that really grabbed me when they did a cover of “Whipping Post” by The Allman Brothers Band. It’s not an easy song to cover so a band need to be confident to do it justice. They took this song, gave it a gritty southern rock edge, and delivered it in probably the best cover version I’ve heard yet. And the whole time smiling away. It was a song that had the Orlando crowd cheering and wanting to hear more.

From Cord’s powerful vocals, to Kyle’s amazing energy and riffs, to Eric’s killer bass sounds, to Erik’s drum work, this band made an impression on the crowd that night. T.R.O.Y  looked and played like veteran musicians who should be headlining a tour instead of support it. T.R.O.Y definitely made me a fan that evening and I look forward to see what the future will bring for them.

Coming up next was Devour the Day. The band from Memphis, TN started in 2012 when Joey “Chicago” Walser and Blake Allison of Egypt Central announced the two other members were not returning and Egypt Central was disbanding. From that moment Joey and Blake formed Devour the Day. With Joey (bass) and Blake (vocals, rhythm guitar) bringing on Ronnie Farris (drums) and David Hoffman (lead guitar) rounded out Devour the Day. As the band stepped out on stage, we headed into the pit. The crowd was amped up to see them and Devour the Day started to rock.

They opened with “S.O.A.R.” the title track from their sophomore album. “Suffer, Overcome, And Recover” as the lyrics state along with the heavy bass line and quick guitar riffs, Blake delivered the message perfectly. The crowd moved with the music as Blake stood center stage singing and playing guitar. Joey moved on the stage with amazing energy and David had just as much if not more. Devour the Day was rocking the House of Blues Orlando hard.

Right before they start their next song, Blake asked the crowd to get their hands in the air, which of course they obliged. And he then got the crowd in a swaying motion right as they started “Good Man” from their first album “Time and Pressure”. It’s a slow starting song with a low guttural guitar riff and right after the first verse Blake lets the vocals rip. And the band did too. The energy that washed over the crowd was chilling.

Ever been to a concert where something so you don’t expect to happen just brings a smile to your face knowing you’ll remember that forever? This was probably the second time it’s happened to me when Blake jumped into the pit with us and then onto the barricade. A fan helped Blake keep his balance while he stood on the barricade, still singing. Talk about concentration! Blake then stops and looks over the crowd as Devour the Day is still playing, he yells into the mic, “You know what? I wanna crowd surf!”

I immediately looked at an House of Blues Security member asking to get on the barricade to track Blake with my camera. He gave me the OK and I jumped up on the barricade platform (it’s usually used as a seat for photographers in the pit waiting for bands to come on stage) right as Blake launched himself into the crowd. The crowd happily caught him and passed him from the middle all the way down to the left side and all the while I’m snapping photos. He finally made it back to the barricade, jumped back into the pit, made his way to the center and with the help of Security got back on stage. Blake looked pleased from his little trip through the crowd.

The band continued on with “Save Yourself” from the ‘S.O.A.R.’ album. Unfortunately for us it is a short song which ended our 3 songs in the pit as we moved out. I headed upstairs for a better view of the band and see if I could capture some shots. Devour the Day held the crowd’s attention through the set with “Broadcast Intro”, “Blackout”, “Step Aside”, and the first single from ‘S.O.A.R.’, “Lightning In The Sky”. The band’s high energy output, motions, and music captured everyone’s attention and the crowd wanted more. They finished up their set with “You and Not Me”, “The Bottom”, and “Respect”. Devour the Day definitely had everyone’s respect that night and I am definitely looking forward to hearing more from the band.

The crowd  on the floor were trying to get closer to the stage for the headliners, Skillet. The band from Memphis, TN formed in 1996. They’ve had an amazing career with nine studio albums with two of them certified platinum and one certified gold. They’ve also had the WWE select multiple Skillet songs to be used as title tracks to Pay Per Views and be used in video games. The band currently consisting of husband and wife John (vocals, bass) and Korey (rhythm guitar, keyboards) Cooper, Jen Ledger (drums), and Seth Morrison (lead guitar) have definitely made an impression on their fans. Tonight would be no different.

Skillet walked out on stage to an immense cheer as the photographers made their way into the pit. The stage had lights set up everywhere including a huge LED screen hanging on the back wall. They came out smiling and started off with “Feel Invincible” from the ‘Unleashed’ album. The song starts off with this thumping bass and drum beat and then rips out the hard rock into the chorus. The crowd sang along to every word. The light show on stage was just as stunning as the performance. It made not only for a fun show for the fans to watch, but great images for the photographers to capture.

“Whispers In The Dark” from ‘Comatose’ was next. It’s a hard thrashing song that got the floor of House of Blues Orlando jumping. Skillet is very energetic on stage, constantly moving around, and engaging the fans. It’s easy to see why their fan following is so strong. And I can’t speak enough about the visual performance they provide along with their great music. I know I was enjoying their show and I’m sure the other photographers were doing the same.

They followed up with “Sick of It” from ‘Rise’. If the crowd wasn’t moving before, they really were jumping now. The entire band were completely in sync this night. John’s vocals sounded great, Korey was whipping around back and forth, posing for the photographers, Seth was also posing and playing in top form. Jen, hair and head whipping around, rocking away on the drums. After they finished we exited the pit and I headed upstairs for a few more shots. They were just starting to play “Rise” the title track from the 2013 album as I left the pit.

Skillet picked a great set of songs to perform that night. They continued on with “Back From the Dead”, “Awake and Alive”, “Not Gonna Die”, and “Hero”. At midpoint in the show John addressed the crowd. He talked about how people labeled them as a Christian rock band, which he openly admits he is perfectly fine with because he is a Christian and proud of it. He also talked about how he loves that everyone there that night whether they be a Christian, Jewish, Mulism, atheist, or whatever, they were all gathered together to celebrate their love of music. And he truly appreciated that everyone there that night came out to support them.

They continued on that evening playing “Those Nights”, “Undefeated”, “Comatose”, “The Last Night”, “Stars”, “Out of Hell”, “Monster” (one of my favorite songs from them), and “Rebirthing”. Skillet left the stage and came back out to encore with “The Resistance” from the 2016 album ‘Unleashed’. Overall Skillet’s performance was top notch and delivered a hard hitting, smash mouth, rock concert that current and new fans could truly appreciate.