Monday, May 3, 2010
Day 2-Agapefest 2010- A Beautiful Afternoon and Skillet, Awesome As Always
Alright, I hope you guys had time to read the Friday night festivities before you read this one, but if not, it’s super-OK! This article will talk about Saturday at Agapefest for me. I didn’t make it in until about 1:00pm, so all the stuff before then isn’t included.
By the time I arrived the sun was coming out and it was going to be a beautiful afternoon. I got great parking on the street and did not end up in the field mud pit. It was bad in spots, but it wasn’t anywhere near last year’s event. Once you stepped into the concert field area, it didn’t look bad at all. There were a couple water puddles, but most people were intelligent enough to miss them.
As I walked into the concert area, I heard a man preaching and I thought that maybe they moved the speaker from the night before. But no, this was Thi’Sl. The Christian rap artist from the STL rocked the house with his words and his music. The crowd and I were really into him. I went and grabbed his CD and then went to meet him before one of the main reasons I came on Saturday, I AM TERRIFIED.
I AM TERRIFIED are these hard rockers that bring it all to the table when they perform. They got the crowd involved with jumping and arm waving at the same level of Thi’Sl. You see two artists and you knew this crowd was ready to rock. I would put them in the class of Christian Motorhead. Paddy just brings the voice, and Brandon, Matt, Logan and Joel just jam out. They were the first band of the event that I heard people begging for one more song. As a big fan, I tell you this. I want you to go buy their CD just for one song. You will love the rest of it too, but you will never hear I’ll Fly Away rocked out like this ever again. These guys are awesome!
During Philmont, I got a pic with I AM TERRIFIED, got some lunch and used the rest room because I knew I wouldn’t be back there for a while. What I heard of Philmont, I liked. I learned that their debut CD is called Attention and I think you really should give it a listen.
Next up was the artist that my good buddy Alvin Smith told me that I had to see, Stephanie Smith (no relation). He had seen her several times and told me that I’d love her music. He was so right. Stephanie and I have two other things in common as well. The first is that both of us are former Greenville students. The second thing is even more interesting. One of my favorite people in the universe, Toby Mac, discovered her. He helped make her a star and he was a nice part of helping me toward the cross back in 1994. If you want more on that story, go read any year on December 27 from my archives and you’ll get the whole story of Toby, Mike and Kevin’s involvement when they were a little band called DC Talk.
Anyhow, after hearing a few songs, I kept thinking blonde Pat Benatar. For those of you unfamiliar with 80’s music, Benatar was the premier rocker of the ladies of the eighties. Stephanie began singing songs off her new EP and they are all great. Go buy the CD. You will not regret it if you are a rocker! Toward the middle of the set, she did versions of Benatar’s Hit Me With Your Best Shot and Joan Jett’s I Love Rock n’ Roll. She would have fit in nicely with them back then. They would love her.
After she performed, she had the longest line for autographs that I had seen at that point, but I did want to get the other Smiths’ CD autographed. She was very cool with the crowd and it didn’t take long as she was great with everyone. I know artists are supposed to be that way, but she might be one of the most genuine people I’ve met in Christian music. She is a fun, spunky rocker. She was making goofy faces with fans for pictures. It was a blast watching her interact with her fanbase. Even later in the evening, when she was practically mugged by a group of teens, she was fun and loving with the group as she was watching the show. That’s above and beyond and it gives me oodles of respect for her.
Well, after getting a picture and the autograph with Stephanie, I went back to the concert area and realized that I was getting nowhere near the stage for any more pictures. I will apologize now for not getting any shots of Remedy Drive and forward to Skillet for you.
Remedy Drive put a lot of energy into their show. The lead singer did tricks like being in a chair on his head playing his piano. These guys poured their hearts into the act and it seemed that only when they told people what to do that they did anything. They definitely get my award for most unappreciated band of the weekend, but they did a great show.
I had never seen Run Kid Run or Family Force 5 and had never heard of Paper Route. Run Kid Run did a decent show. A lot of people were talking to me during their performance, but I think they did well for not knowing any of their music and they were great about talking about Christ about midway through.
Paper Route came out and I found myself thinking of The Police in the Synchronicity Era. They did a good job and I think I’ll have to go listen to some of their stuff on their website to their newest CD, Absence. Someone told me that most of the group are Greenville grads.
This next part is going to get me a lot of heat and I’ll kindly remind you now that this column is my opinion and that’s what you’re getting. I will talk about this more intense in a blog later this week because Family Force 5 absolutely made me livid.
Before they started, I heard all the teens going how great these guys are. I’d even heard that before I got there from some of our teens at my local church. So I will say this here, if you want a Christian group that shows you nothing of the Christian view in their show, but their dance moves and outfits will make your teens lose their minds, this is the show for you. And no, “Hey there, wait a minute, put a little love in it,” does not qualify in my view as a Christian song.
By the time their set was finished (over 40 minutes), I can’t clearly say I heard any reference to Christ, God or The Message. I heard a whole lot of dance music that was well done, insulting and putting people down and absolutely showed no respect for the Gospel. Saints, if you’re out there, help me understand where Family Force 5 is a Christian band. Not just for my sake, but the idea that there is already talk of having this group back at Agapefest for the 35th edition makes my skin crawl at the moment. Again, I am presently researching information for an article on Family Force 5 to help me give you a better look later this week.
The scarier part is how their exit was handled. After seeing last year’s show, Agapefest officials did a better job a year ago of segue waying from Hawk Nelson to speaker Bob Lenz. This year’s transition was horrible, at best. By the time speaker Ben Woods got to the stage, almost 10 minutes later, most of the FF5 fans had already left the concert area and were hanging on the every word of the autograph tent where Family Force 5 would be, after the speaker. That part was handled right. However, no one told Ben to move closer to the edge of the stage where he could not only be heard better, but also seen better to display the emotion of the Gospel message he was giving.
Those other factors plus the idea that someone was allowed to play music over in the concession area as loud as possible drowned out Woods to most people outside of the inner circle of listeners. Look, Agapefest lost their speaker on Friday night because of the storm. This was the only, only, ONLY chance that they were getting to give the crowd an opportunity to receive Christ, receive prayer for situations in life, et cetera. If more than ten people moved before Skillet began to go to the prayer tent, I will personally be amazed and pleased to hear it.
Also, I am throwing my hat into the ring right now to say that I want to speak at Agape 35. I want an opportunity to share with people the Gospel and impact lives at a festival I love. For the exposure and opportunity, I would do it for FREE! That’s right Agapefest. One Man Revival Ministries has just offered you a free speaker. As a former Greenville student of your LAMP program and a lover of teaching the Gospel of Christ, I would be ecstatic to come and offer my services. Yes, I will mark the last weekend of April-first weekend of May on my calendar in 2011 for you, RIGHT NOW!
OK, let me get of my soapbox, because Skillet came out and rocked the house to close the show. They did a lot of material from Comatose and Awake and was stellar in performance. I do wish the smoke machines would not have blown back so much. They were fantastic as always. Skillet is one of those groups that young bands should model themselves after, maybe not completely in music, but at least in class, character and showmanship. It was a shame the rain started coming down at the end of their show. However, it was a fantastic closer for a great Agapefest 2010.
Next year, as I’ve said a few times, is the 35th anniversary of Agapefest. This should be a great festival again. Being one of the early festivals of the year and a great bargain for concert goers, you should not miss Agapefest 2011.
I love you guys!