Sunday, August 23, 2009

KJ-52 Headlines a Great Evening in the Park in Mattoon (8/22/09)

Hey gang!

Prologue: This is from a concert in the park in Mattoon, IL. When I got there, I realized the event was for families to come to celebrate back to school. This event was done by several of the local Mattoon churches and they should be praised for their efforts to spread the gospel in this way to the public.
Also, an apology to Jenna Jackley and Good Morning Midnight. I talked to both and had thought I would see them to include them in this review. However, I did not realize the event started at 5:30pm and they had already performed.

On to the review.

Honestly, I have waited ever since the first time I saw the video “Do Your Thang” to go and see KJ-52 in concert. Saturday night was my opportunity.

I arrived at the park in Mattoon about 6:45 pm and saw that this was a carnival setting. I read somewhere that the show was $10 to go see, but got better news that there was in fact no cost to see the show.

Before the show started, or so I thought, I went over to the tables to buy some music and possibly a T-shirt for my collection. I visited with Good Morning Midnight and Jenna Jackley and everybody was cordial and fantastic. Finally, I got over to KJ-52’s table and noticed this shirt that looked like a Mountain Dew can. I had to have it. Wrong. In fact, there was not a single shirt larger than XL. If you look at me, you know I require at least DOUBLE X FAT GUY!

The lady that waited on me was as sweet as she could be. I did eventually buy two sets of bling and these crazy red glasses that I fell in love with. I wouldn’t recommend them for driving, but they are awesome. Thanks to Vanessa for being so nice.

After that, I strolled and worked my way to the front of the crowd. It wasn’t that hard. I found out that the show was between performers and had a nice chat with some teens from Mattoon. They asked me a serious question that I hope that I answered well.

The question was, “Why do people not get into Christian shows outside the church?” My reply sounded like something PV and I talked about a few months back. “In a public crowd like this, you don’t really know where most of the crowd is spiritually. If this were held in a church, you would think that many more people are Christian and more serious about it. That’s not always the case. You can’t say that people are or aren’t any more spiritual because they are sitting in their lawn chairs rather than standing and jamming in the front. Some personalities just aren’t built that way.”

I continued. “Tonight is an opportunity for you to find out though. Take a walk in the crowd and talk to others. That’s how you know. Some people aren’t here to be converted. Some are here just to listen and talk. That’s a drop in the spiritual bucket. Your drop may hit the bottom, but you may find yourself blessed and be the one that sends a person to overflowing and changing a life for Christ.” After that, one of the teens, a guy named Ryan, pulled me aside and we talked more in depth on reaching people. It was a great experience to see someone that wants to make a difference in his friends.

We headed back to the group and I Am Terrified hit the stage. They did a six-song set of heavy metal reminiscent of Metallica. The set was fantastic from the Gotee Records representatives and they really jammed. At one point, the bass guitarist had his strap snap and he had to play part of a song awkwardly and still carried it off. The last song was the most memorable for me. They did a song called Some Glad Morning. Let’s just say that I’ve never heard I’ll Fly Away in metal version. It rocked! It was something totally different, yet familiar enough that even some of the older crowd sang along. I highly recommend you find a copy of their self-titled EP if you are into harder Christian music. Absolutely fantastic is all I can say.

Once they moved their equipment off stage, DJ X and the drummer, I did not get his name, began to do a sound check. The music had an 80’s feel, so the crowd was into it. Then KJ took the stage. He rapped his way through the mike check and the crowd was electric by this point. I was impressed that Tweezy started with Do Your Thang. One of my favorite songs even more awesome in concert.

One of the highlights of the night was Stuck In the 80’s. If you love 80’s music, KJ-52 revisited songs by Michael Jackson (Thriller) and the Eurythmics (Sweet Dreams). He even took the show old school and did raps to Le Chic’s Freak Out and a little Saturday Night Fever dance of John Travolta.

He did three songs off the new CD coming out September 22nd including the new single, End of My Rope. I think he’s got a hit on his hands with Yeah, He Did That. This crowd was totally into the show with the new songs and FiveTweezy even took video footage to put on Twitter while he was doing the song.

He closed the show with To Whom It May Concern. He talked about how a letter connected people. This song was the follow-up to Dear Slim, a song letter to rapper Eminem. The original letter set off controversy, but showed a genuine concern for more than the man’s music. KJ-52 closed in prayer for the crowd to make dedications and renewal commitments to Christ. I saw a lot of hands go up, so the show was a success on another level as it made people think about their commitment to God. Hopefully, the result is a community of people more fired up to spreading the gospel.

After the show, KJ-52 hung out, signed autographs and took pictures. For me, this is where a lot of artists miss the follow through to be real with the crowd. I have never had more fun waiting to talk and take a picture with an artist than I did at this show. KJ-52 cut up with everyone that wanted to. He truly had fun with the fans. He had an energy that showed his fans that he wasn’t in a hurry and that he gave true love to his fans. I’m not saying others don’t, but I really respected the effort he gave to everyone.

KJ is a few years younger than I am (I’m 40, for first time readers), but he showed me the same fun and joy that he did with his base audience of teenagers. That also can be appreciated. We didn’t take a lot of time, just enough to get a picture, talk respect and to let him know that this is what I do (internet ministry). He thanked me and continued talking to fans.

I’ll close with the same thought that I had in my prologue. The churches in Mattoon that worked with this back to school in the park idea should be commended. They had a great show with artists that shared their beliefs of wanting to reach the people of the area. I truly wish I could’ve been there from the beginning of the evening just to share in the whole scene. I missed out on some cool games, some great food (from what I heard), and even more fellowship. The concert to this crowd was gravy and an ice cold Mountain Dew!

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