Music festivals dominate summer months
This summer has been loaded with Christian music festivals all over the country. Cornerstone, Lamb Jam and Ignite Festivals dominated late June and all of July and brought people the most enjoyable names and biggest names in Christian music today.
Cornerstone Festival (June 30-July 3)
by Cameron Edwards
My experience at the Cornerstone festival was far more entertaining than I had anticipated.
The very first day I was there my brother and I were walking past many tents but one sounded uncanny compared to the rest.
The band playing was called Don’t Wake Aislin. The singer, Deena Jakoub, stood out because it was the first band I’ve seen
on stage with a female singer and they were as good as a lot of bands with male vocalists.
Next up was The End All, a screamo band. The band did a heavy metal screamo version of the Justin Beiber song, “Baby.” This was the first time I ever heard a song by Beiber and the band made it good.
Later that night we made our way to the main stage where most of the big name bands play. One band, Resurrection Band,
played and they rocked the stage. The lead singer was of female gender and her husband, Glenn Kaiser, was the guitar player and shared as the singer. He was just as good of a singer as she was.
After Resurrection Band, Petra, one of the first big name Christian-rock bands came on stage.
My father used to play Petra all the time. Therefore I knew a lot of the songs.
The lead singer, Greg Volz, is in his sixties and did two shows that night so understandably he was too tired to stick around for too long.
After Petra, we made our way to the Encore stage to see Flatfoot 56. They were a Celtic-punk band featuring bagpipes and the show was crazier than I anticipated.
I almost lost my shoe and I lost my brothers shirt.
The following day was Friday, which was my favorite day despite the 115 degree heat.
The first band that stood out to me that day was The Letter Black. They are a big name band whom I had heard before but they were better on stage.
The lead singer, Sarah Hamilton was a great singer and knew very well how to give the crowd energy and use it to give a great show.
The next band I really liked was For Today and everybody seemed to know their music. The crowd went crazy when they played. There were circle pits and complete anarchy in the crowd.
After For Today was Brian “Head” Welch the ex-lead guitarist of KoRn.
I had been reading his book “Save Me from Myself,” so I had been waiting a long time for his set.
He took time to talk to the crowd and introduced his daughter, Jennea to us. He did songs by KoRn as well as his solo material.
He was definitely my favorite act of the festival.
After “Head” was done playing, an inspirational speaking group called “the Whosoevers” came on stage and spoke for about 45 minutes.
I liked them because they were very relate-able.
Next was the band P.O.D. and I knew most of the songs they performed as well and as a lover of mosh pits I got into as many pits as I could.
On Saturday we went to the main stage around 4 p.m.
The first band on the main stage was Blissed, a late 80’s-style rock band.
The lead singer had the rock star style hair and he stood on the microphone stand a lot. I was hoping he would not fall because if he fell then it would interrupt the awesome music they were playing.
I am happy to say that he did not fall.
The band that stood out the most Saturday was Every Knee Shall Bow.
The only band members who were adults were the drummer, lead guitar player and the singer. The other two were not. The bassist was 12 and the guitarist was 13. If you have not checked them out, you definitely should.
On one of the smallest stages was a band called Norma Jean. Lots of people did not even believe they were at Cornerstone because it was a surprise show and they were not in the program.
Needless to say they are a pretty big name.
The stage was so small and so packed that anybody with a camera would have been best off on the stage instead of in the crowd. Surprisingly nobody got hurt with how crazy the show was.
However we had to leave early to catch the band Blindside on the main stage.
The band came clear from Sweden to play at Cornerstone and they put on a great show.
There was a giant beach ball that appeared to be seven feet tall and when you pushed it, it pushed back.
After Blindside was done we waited for the next main stage band, Anberlin.
It was funny to see that the band had misspelled the giant banner in the background so it said “Anbrln”
The crowd was getting rather antsy after about 15 minutes because they were a little late to get set up.
At a few points, they had three drummers playing at once. They were crazy.
After Anberlin we were walking past the Solace tent and were drawn by a rather different sound as well as strobe and colored lights. The band was called Leper and they were gothic rock style music (that’s how I would explain it) with dancers, skulls and candles everywhere. It was completely dark except for purple strobe lights. The singer had a veil and was just very different, in a good way.
The next to last band that night was at the encore stage where we saw the band called A Plea for Purging. They performed death metal-type music and the crowd was completely insane. The singer was a heavy-set bald man which I think added to his ability to perform the genre. They stood out because the lights in the performance made the whole tent completely red.
And although it was night time it was very stuffy due to the crowd.
Sunday was the last day and the one band that was most memorable was The Chariot.
They were the craziest band of the event and they saved the best for last.
This band is so insane that they have to sign waivers so that if anything gets damaged they legally must pay for it.
They are so crazy that the year prior they set their gear on fire….on purpose.
During Sunday’s set, band members constantly stage dived while performing.
The guitarist came out into the audience and played. I’ll be honest, I thought I was going to get hit with the guitar.
After the set they bashed some of their equipment and gave it to the audience.
It was a great way to end a week long music festival.
My opinion on the whole Cornerstone festival was that besides the sun burns and me almost breaking my arm it was very extreme for a Christian-based event.
Lamb Jam (July 23)
Even though Lamb Jam 2011 was significantly shorter than Cornerstone, it was just as hot….and the music was just as enjoyable, featuring over 20 bands on three stages.
The 12-hour festival, held in Linton, Indiana’s Humphrey’s Park, kicked off at 10 a.m. with Bob Moffin and the Transformation, who played a blues-rock-like set on the A stage- the perfect way to kick off the festival.
Highway 111 followed them, with a young kid drummer and a girl trio offering backing vocals. Their set was jam-packed with a worship sound and there was some crowd involvement, which was great for it being 11 a.m. and the second band of the day.
77 Times were the first decently heavy band to take A Stage, showing great stage presence and proving the deserved to be on the main stage that day. Holding their guitars in the air, standing on their equipment, 77 Times put on a great show.
Silver From The Flames, also on A Stage that day was one of the crowd favorites. Composed of three young children, they took the stage and made it their own, playing songs that they had written together, including one called “Adopted.” They also played a very impressive Children 18:3 cover.
Brett Vaughn took the C Stage at 3 p.m. to play a set packed with guitar solos and metal covers of Bullet For My Valentine, Ozzy Osborne and Zack Wylde.
Vaughn’s guitar skills were amazing and he may have been one of the top shredders on schedule that afternoon and he may really have a future in this business if he can find the right people to accompany him on stage.
Taylor Cain followed Vaughn on C Stage, playing an all-instrumental guitar set, displaying yet another set of spectacular guitar work, much like Vaughn.
Following Cain on C Stage was The Surrendering, a five-piece rock band, fronted by Rebecca Congleton, with her husband,
Joe Congleton on lead guitar. theSurrendering, though without a large crowd of spectators, were by far one of the best
bands on the festival lineup and were the best full-band on C Stage that day. They are definitely worth checking out for people who like solid rock.
Shortly thereafter, hometown band Nail Driven took A Stage for possibly the highest-energy set up to that point. Playing very heavy metal, they gathered the biggest crowd of the day to that point as well.
One of the many highlights of Nail Drivens’ set was their impressive cover of Pillar’s “Fireproof.”
The Scarlet Society followed suit with another high-energy heavy metal performance with lead vocalist Ian Drake Kemper running and jumping about the stage like a hyperactive kangaroo.
They played mainly songs from their newly-released EP, “Who’s Voice Will Rise,” which is definitely worth checking out.
The next-to-last band of the night, Beholder, hit the stage with a few intentions- to praise God and melt faces.
They accomplished both.
Throwing their guitars in the air in unison, lead vocalist Matt Horst coming into the crowd, everyone was deep in metal worship and experiencing God through the performance.
All that was left now was the final act of the night, Delamour, who picked up right where Beholder left off.
Delamour took whatever energy the crowd had left and shredded it to pieces with their extreme-style of playing,.
They showed their versatility, however, by ending their show with a praise and worship song that had everyone in attendance with their arms raised to the sky and feeling God in some way.
For an event that featured no national acts and only small-name bands, Lamb Jam 2011 was a blast and those who missed out on the event did just that- they missed out.
Planning for Lamb Jam 2012 is already underway and after the success and enjoyment that came with Lamb Jam 2011, next year is already shaping up to be an event that you don’t want to miss.
Ignite Fest (July 29-31)
July came to a close with Ignite Fest in Zion, Ilinois. Taking place from July 29-31, Ignite Fest celebrated its fifth anniversary by bringing in 30 bands- 10 for each day.
Friday, July 29 served as a softer day with a lot of praise and worship music, with The Least of These, The City Harmonic,
Shonlock, Sidewalk Prophets, John Reuben, Superchick, Francesca Battistelli, Sanctus Real, Kutless and Newsboys all lighting up the stage for a jam-packed day and night.
On Saturday, July 30, Finding Favour, Josh Wilson and Stellar Kart got things kicked off, followed by Disciple, who really got the party started.
Disciple was by far the heaviest band of the day, and honestly should have been put on Sunday’s bill, but instead served as an early source of energy and excitement for those in attendance. Those who got there after they finished definitely missed out on an experience.
Playing songs like “Dear X, You Don’t Own Me,” “Scars Remain” and “Southern Hospitality,” Disciple moved the crowd and got them amped and excited for what was in store for the rest of the weekend and probably stole the show until Switchfoot that night.
Next up was Jars of Clay, who were good, but also in a tough position following Disciple. They put on a decent show, playing “Dead Man (Carry Me)” and their first hit, “Flood,” however they found it a better move to fill their set with newer songs rather than popular old favorites like “Crazy Times,” “Unforgettable You” or “This Road” which was disappointing.
Rebecca St. James, sporting a new look (which made her look like a completely different person) followed next and played a very soft but enjoyable set, ending with a very personal story about how God has given her hope through some dark times in her life lately and played some popular praise songs.
Matthew West put on one heck of a show after St. James. At 2010’s Ignite Fest, the crowd was forced to watch from the grand stands due to excessive rain. This year, no holds were barred as there was no rain at all and the crowd was able to come up close, which West took full advantage of.
During his performance of “Next Thing You Know,” West jumped off stage and walked through the crowd until he found a man named Jim, who he took off guard by handing him the mic and having him sing “La La La La La La,” much to the enjoyment of the spectators (many of whom have probably put that on YouTube by now).
After Tenth Avenue North finished their set, the field began to fill to the masses with people ready for some face-melting courtesy of Switchfoot, which is exactly what happened.
Their light show was spectacular and their performance was one that you would have had to be in attendance to appreciate.
The only negative on the entire day and night however, was that Switchfoot featured so much smoke in their set that it rendered them difficult to see at times.
From the beginning to the middle (where front man Jon Foreman running through the crowd until he came to a platform in the middle of the crowd and sang from there) to the end, when they finished with “Dare You To Move,” Switchfoot was the perfect way to end Saturday’s lineup.
Sunday, however, was the most energetic and enjoyable day of the three.
Kicked off by Royal Tailor and Ivoryline, Sunday was jam-packed with hard rock Jesus worship.
Flatfoot 56 reeked havoc on the stage and the crowd, with lead singer Tobin Bawinkel calling for nonstop crowd involvement.
Flatfoot had the crowd forming numerous circle pits, yelling “oopa” and throwing grass up in the air and they may or may
not have influenced a very intense grass-throwing war between the two sides of the stage (really, no reason to point fingers here).
They even challenged Project 86 to a game of Cornhole.
Factor all that in with their use of Celtic punk, bagpipes and a mandolin and they were a very early favorite on Sunday.
After Seventh Day Slumber followed the enjoyable chaos that was Flatfoot 56, Project 86 came to stage to rock the crowd’s world, which is exactly what they did.
They also accepted Flatfoot 56s’ Cornhole challenge.
Project 86 did an immaculate job at mixing it up, playing a combination of songs from a collection of their albums.
They even pulled out “Me Against Me” from their “Drawing Black Lines” album.
After The Almost finished following Project 86 with a very impressive set, Thousand Foot Krutch hit the stage for a
Singer Trevor McNevan kept the crowd going with his dancing on stage and his constant catwalk strutting.
They mainly played songs from “Welcome to the Masquerade” but did throw in “Absolute” and “Rawkfist” from their two previous records and announced that they would be entering the studio in the fall to record a new album.
After TFK concluded their set, the crowd was in for a blast from the past with Christian rock legends, the iconic Stryper.
Stryper was very entertaining, joking around with each other and with the crowd.
While during their current tour they had been playing a few songs from “The Covering,” their latest record which paid tribute to the artists who inspired them, they kept their set at Ignite Fest to the old classics like “Free,” “Calling On You,” “Soldiers Under Command” and “To Hell With The Devil.”
I’ll admit, I was completely in awe and went into complete fan-mode, as did the two guys in front of me who wouldn’t stop fist-pumping and jumping up-and-down for the entire performance.
I think many of the bands on the bill were too because most of the bands that were still there filled the backstage area, singing along and rocking out during Strypers’ set.
Stryper sounded just as good as they did in their prime and it was truly an honor and dream-come-true to have been in attendance while they played.
Red followed Stryper by opening their show with an intro that was a rap/hip hop medley of “Fireman/Hey Ya/Watcha Say/Bad Boy for Life/Bed Intruder Song” before they kicked off the real music with “Feed the Machine.”
Singer Michael Barnes vocals were outstanding and the entire band was full of energy, jumping off their footstools and running down the catwalk.
They played all of their hits and served as a great leeway into Skillet’s set.
Skillet capped off the night a dominating set of which the crowd waited for in eager anticipation.
As soon as their masked cello and violin players walked onto stage and played a string-only intro to “Whispers In the Dark” and the fire-filled drum hits pounded through their hearts, the crowd knew they were going to get their money’s worth.
It is hard to put into words how outstanding Skillet’s show was. They unleashed an energy ninja that cut the fans eardrums to smithereens and left them wanting more and more.
Skillet kept the crowd on their toes with pyro effects like fire, smoke, fog and fireworks.
Their set was filled with favorites like “Awake and Alive,” “Monster,” “Hero” and “Comatose,” while throwing in songs like “Better Than Drugs” and an acoustic version of “Yours To Hold” in which front man/bassist John Cooper brought drummer Jen Ledger out for a duet which was backed with violin and cello. They followed that up with an acoustic and electric mixed version of “Those Nights.”
They ended with an extended version of “Rebirthing” in which they pulled out all the stops and left it all on stage. Fire, smoke and pin-wheel fireworks galore filled the stage as each member put everything they had left into that last song.
Just like that Ignite Fest 2011 came to a close, as did the month of July. As people exited the stadium they couldn’t help but wonder what Edan Concerts has in store for Ignite Fest 2012.
One thing is for sure, though, God was definitely present at Ignite Fest. Congratulations to the promoters for putting on such a well-run, God-oriented event.