Scott Kucharski

PHOTOS: Skillet and Switchfoot at Spyglass Ridge Winery in Sunbury, 08/28/21

PHOTOS: Skillet and Switchfoot at Spyglass Ridge Winery in Sunbury, 08/28/21
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Most fans gathered at the Spyglass Ridge Winery on Saturday, Aug. 28 probably didn’t realize it at the onset, but vocalist John Cooper of the headlining act Skillet eventually informed them during a break between songs that he was “fairly sure” this was the first time his band ever played with their good friends Switchfoot as a standalone show. While they have shared stages on festival lineups in the past, this was the first time that two of the most popular bands of their genre have ever played in this format together.

Fans may have been unfazed by this bit of trivia, but they were more than thrilled to see two of their favorite modern rock acts at this unique venue on a beautiful weekend in Eastern Pennsylvania.

The night was a first for these Christian acts as well as for NEPA Scene as we visited the scenic Sunbury winery for the first time.

On the drive in, traveling some narrow, winding roads past working dairy farms and fields of corn and other crops, the “Field of Dreams” quote, “If you build it, they will come,” immediately came to mind. The venue is located on 75 acres far from any commercial or industrial areas, situated in the middle of a peaceful agricultural setting.

The Spyglass grounds features the winery, where early arriving fans can sample and purchase their offerings to take home, as well as the Three Beards Brewery, which offers many meal options in addition to their own craft beers. The brewery rests high on a hill overlooking the permanent stage that sits just feet away from a three-way intersection on the back roads of this rural community that was about to be shaken up by some lively rock music.

The outdoor concert kicked off with a high-energy set from Grammy Award-winning Switchfoot. The San Diego, California rockers were there to kick off a series of shows in support of their latest release, “Interrobang,” which just came out on Aug. 20. Their 14-song set opened with “Lost ‘Cause” from that album and included a killer cover of Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” before wrapping up with the band’s 2003 smash “Meant to Live” from “The Beautiful Letdown.” Lead singer Jon Foreman brought his signature animated performance while straddling the stage and pit rail during the opening tune and later climbing the stage pillars while draped in a banner made by the screaming fans in attendance.

As the sun set over the winery, multi-platinum-selling Skillet took over and, much like they did nearly a year ago at the Circle Drive-In Theatre in Dickson City, brought their high-end stage production to the packed field of fans. The group – led by John and wife Korey Cooper (rhythm guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), along with Jen Ledger (drums, vocals) and Seth Morrison (lead guitar) – opened with the anthem “Feel Invincible” and “Not Gonna Die,” which included John strapping CO2 cannons onto his arms and blasting smoke over the crowd in an almost superheroic scene. From there, they ripped though hits spanning their 10-album career, including their current 2019 release, “Victorious.”

After playing the title track from their latest record, they slowed things down as they brought everyone, including drummer Jen Ledger (who also sings in her solo project Ledger) to the front of the stage for a seated, stripped-down version of “Stars” from 2016’s “Unleashed.” The slow-down lasted exactly one song as the band, backed by choreographed pyrotechnics, lasers, and multiple elevator risers, followed up with “Comatose” and “Monster” before closing the set with “The Resistance.”

Although it was our first time to the winery, it’s safe to say that the venue and its rural neighbors have likely never seen anything like the production and performance that Skillet brought to them that night. If this was an indication of things to come at Spyglass, we can’t wait to be back and the crowd seemed to agree. It’s well worth the drive to see Cheap Trick, Third Eye Blind, or Get the Led Out later this month before the short-lived summer concert season comes to a close.

See NEPA Scene’s photos of Skillet performing with Colton Dixon at the Circle Drive-In last year here.