Monday, May 4, 2009

Agapefest Day 2: A full day of fun

Meet Alisa Turner, one of the several new artists I had a chance to see on day two at Agapefest!

Hey gang!

Sorry it took a little longer to get this to print. They say the road of good intentions is paved, but most of the time it is thicker than the mud bog that was near the main stage at Agapefest. These were the same intentions that we had to be back at Agapefest in time for communion. Communion was at 7:45am and we weren’t even out the door in Effingham yet. Alvin and I spent a little time with my wife and kids having breakfast at Denny’s before we took off. That was probably a good thing. We were well fed for the long day.

We did arrive a little after 9am to have the chance to hit the talkback with Bob Lenz. It was a powerful hour to listen to him encourage the youth leaders to keep the faith. I’ll talk more about this later in another blog when I talk about some of the feelings I came away with.

After that we spent the morning going back and forth between the main and second stage, spending a better deal of time there. We totally missed the Battle of the Band winners and caught the backend of Alisa Turner. I always hate catching someone that I feel is pretty good after listening to one or two songs. That’s why I gave you a taste of her in the video that leads off the blog.

I caught bits and pieces of two of Ben Woods’ speaking sessions. During the first, Ben had about 50 teens that were attentive. I love seeing people with passion and Ben delivers that. You can tell the potential of a speaker not by how many are there at the beginning, but how many are still there wanting more at the end. I would say that almost all of those teens stayed with him and I saw several talking with him afterwards.

We caught the last song of the Great Romance’s set and I regret that I missed them too. However, it was probably for the best for me. I caught a new band with a new singer that you might need to check out. The name of the band is Farebridge. Google them and you’ll find connections. The real impressive thing is that in spite of the sound board not getting the vocal mikes right, they sounded really good. Equally impressive is that the new singer of the band had seven days to get ready for Agapefest. You can tell the band has played together for a while and they rocked the little garage looking building. I couldn’t help but think of Nirvana every time the back door kept going up and down as they performed.

Random Hero was supposed to perform next, but scheduling got changed and we got the best treat of Agapefest. The Greg Sanders Band stepped up and into the time slot with a very cool worship session. Even though there were only about 15 of us when it began, Greg and company took us to the throne room with a great set of worship music. The other 7,000 people at Agape missed maybe the highlight of this festival. Alvin bought his CD and I can’t wait to hear it.

Do you ever notice that good worship makes you hungry? We hit the food booths, tanked up and then hit the DecembeRadio talkback. I think a lot of people forget that bands that have made it in Christian music are still not filthy rich. The group was on their way here and their van broke down. We’d wondered why their merchandise table wasn’t up and that was the reason. They were late. Glad they made it in time for the talkback. They shared from their hearts and just made you see that they were just normal guys in love with Jesus doing what they dreamed of.

The talkback ended and gave us time to catch most of Remedy Drive. The crowd was into them. They did a good job and interacted well with their fans. Then, DecembeRadio took the stage and rocked the house. I already had Satisfied so I knew I liked their music. They were even better in concert. I found that to be true with several bands that I liked. I thought that of Fireflight, Disciple and Skillet from Friday night and thought that of most of the people that followed DecembeRadio on Saturday.

After a quick funnel cake and rest room break, we headed back to the main stage for the night. My friend Alvin gives me a hard time about my diabetes and funnel cake because funnel cakes are almost all sugar because that’s what goes on top. I learned on Sunday that the reason I love these sweets even more is because of the amount of Diet Coke I drink. Let’s just say I’m not going to stop drinking Diet Coke if life is as sweet as that.

When we got back to the main stage, Lecrae was about to start. I’ve been a fan since I picked up his Rebel CD and he did not disappoint. You knew the evening portion was beginning as many more fans were near the stage and waving their arms in the show.

Then I got another good concert surprise as The Afters were just awesome in their set. I like The Afters. I’m a pop music guy and they showed me how good they really were. They also presented the Gospel well around their music. They also have a new CD forthcoming. I can’t wait for that!

My friend Alvin joked with me that we better get out of the way as more teenage girls headed toward the stage to see Hawk Nelson. The Canadian and his band had a fun live set, but I was surprised that he didn’t even discuss God during his set, just playing his music. I’m not asking for equal sermon time, but when I hear no mention, especially at a Christian festival, it made me wonder. I could’ve closed my eyes and thought it was the Backstreet Boys instead.

Before the headlining Toby Mac hit the stage, Bob Lenz gave another sparkling message. If you forgot, Friday night talked about when the world says no way, we say Yah-Weh. Tonight was a talk about how we give because we were given a free gift in Christ. I won’t sermonize long, but I got into a discussion with a friend on Sunday about this. The Bible tells us that faith without works is dead. A lot of what Bob talked about was accepting Grace. He never said that we never do works, just that the first step is receiving and accepting grace. My argument is this. Works are not a forced item with God, however we will want to do works if we truly have accepted faith. We give because we have already received.

Finally, what can I say about Toby Mac! I have never, ever been disappointed by a Toby Mac show. He took the final show of Agapefest to the top. It was great. A few of my friends say that Toby’s set was the best of Agapefest. I debated that. I told you about Greg Sanders worship set earlier, but I also thought Skillet put on a great show. I thought Skillet might have been slightly better, probably for two reasons. I have been spoiled by seeing Toby on three different occasions before as a solo artist and three more additional times as part of DC Talk with K Max and Michael Tait. My best Toby moment was probably that first show because it was a culminating event with my salvation. Again, I have been spoiled with great Toby Mac moments in my lifetime. I love watching a true master perform.

I was disappointed that Toby didn’t have a post-concert meet and greet, but with the weather and the fact that he had to catch a flight to be somewhere else, it was pretty understandable.

Overall, Agapefest was a fantastic event. There were probably only three negative things that could be said about the event. First, there was no real contingency plan for the parking area because of the rain. They covered well by getting with a few businesses and getting some help from them. Second, the mud pit was just tough to get around in. There was an area with bleachers within a mile that was still part of the fairgrounds that would have been better for everyone. I know that might be because the fairgrounds wouldn’t give up that area, but it would’ve made it better. Finally, somehow, someway, you have to get the second stage out of the garage. The garage consistently made it hard for artists to get the sound right. A lot of these bands are trying to make it. Help them Agapefest!

The great things overshadowed those three things. One of the sponsors of the event, Interlinc was fantastic with their hospitality for youth leadership. They provided soda and donuts and a quiet, non-wet area for people to rest in. Sure, they were trying to let you see what they offered, but what they offered was very nice and the guys were not shoving it at people, just letting you know it was there. The festival succeeded with staying on time with limited interruptions. With the weather on Friday night, that was a miracle in itself. The staff was great, no matter where you saw them. They were always taking care of people in polite and courteous ways. As the second or third longest running festival, they lived up to giving you a great show!

Will I go back next year? If I have the money and the wife gives me the time. Absolutely. It is the closest of any festival that I presently could go to, it’s before the heat of summer and it’s sponsored by a school I spent three years at, Greenville College. I’d love others to share their stories, memories and thoughts of the show and feel free to talk about other upcoming festivals for the summer. I will in a blog later this week.

I love you guys!


Anonymous said...

Hey Frank,

Actually we did have a contingency plan for parking, and you saw it. The issue is that there isn't any other place to park close enough to the fairgrounds.

As far as the Stage 2 thing goes - you try hauling a sound system as large as that indoors and cancelling bands every time it rains. After 7 years with the festival, I've done it both ways. The sound issue is more with the engineers than the building. But there are other politics involved there...

PinkMom said...

Thanks for the great run-down, Frank. I enjoyed reading your take on the event (and your reviews of the bands ... after seeing Remedy Drive at a showcase in Nashville last fall, I couldn't wait to get them out there :-)).

Thanks for enduring the mud. It was a sight to look out from stage and see the big picture! Glad you were able to enjoy Bob and Interl'inc as well. I was very thankful for both in attendance. Hope we'll see you next year ... Robyn (AF Marketing Advisor)