Skillet and more bring dynamic Winter Jam tour to Indianapolis Mar27

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Skillet and more bring dynamic Winter Jam tour to Indianapolis

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Winter Jam is traditionally the biggest tour of the year- not just in christian music but in all of music. With just $10 general admission at the door and no advance tickets, the shows generally sell out quick and are in such high demand that fans are lined up hours early to make sure they get in.

With the 2015 lineup featuring Skillet, Jeremy Camp, Francesca Battsistelli, Building 429, Family Force 5, NewSong, For King and Country, Blanca, About A Mile, and Veridia.

The day started early in Indianapolis with fans lined up in front of Bankers Life Fieldhouse before 2 p.m. to make sure they got into the show and got good seats. With the doors not opening until 6 p.m., opener About A Mile came outside to perform for the early fans and did so until almost 4 p.m., playing at all sides of the building, making sure everyone had a chance to hear the music.

The doors finally opened and the show kicked of with Reno- a band who played mainly just the Indianapolis show- playing a short, three song set to get things started.

Veridia and About A Mile took the stage next, with Veridia coming first to bring the early-arriving fans their electronic-laced rock anthems. Singer Deena Jakoub took full advantage of the running stage, spending most of the set up close and personal with the fans, as did About A Mile, who took the stage next.

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Their style is more CCM-based than straight rock but they still have a pinch of rock in their music and it shows when they take the live stage.

Consisting of three brothers, About A Mile’s debut album released just last July and they’re already tearing up the Christian charts and playing some big tours so look out for them. They have the energy, stage presence and talent to go straight to the top- not to mention they’re some of the most down-to-earth people in Christian music- fans who lined up early found that out firsthand.

After they finished up, Blanca took the stage to kick off the rest of the night. Fresh on the heels of her solo debut EP, she had a lot to give the crowd and her mix of rap, hip hop, dance and pop had the crowd moving quickly.

With For King and Country not playing the Indianapolis date, NewSong took the stage after Blanca for the first of the longer sets of the night. Up until this point, each artist had only done three or four songs. NewSong took the stage at the end of the running stage and played a good five or six songs- not a long set for normal concertgoers, but it is for Winter Jam. They played a good portion of songs from their new worship record and finished up with “Arise My Love,” which they opened with on 2012’s Winter Jam tour.

After NewSong, Family Force 5 came out to funkify the crowd and make them really start moving. Opening with “BZRK,” the band took the stage with some of the most outrageous outfits ever and with two trampolines on the stage- and yes, they bounced, bounced and bounced some more.

They danced, they rocked, they demanded the crowd move and they didn’t stop until everyone was grooving and dancing with them.

After a short intermission as well as a message from speaker Tony Nolan, Building 429 hit the stage to kick off the last portion of the night. Their set was adorned with giant red streamers with the band’s logo which dropped as soon as they blasted the opening of their set. Three years ago on Winter Jam, they debuted “Where I Belong” and this year they did the same with a new track from their upcoming new album and their show was equipped with pyro smoke and more- the party had begun.

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Not long after they wrapped it up, Jeremy Camp and Francesca Battistelli took over- Camp first and Battistelli next, for two very fun, very inspirational sets. With Camp originally from Indiana, he was right at home- he even brought his dad and brother on stage for a song so they could finally play a big stage together for the first time.

Camp got choked up talking about how much it meant to him to be on a tour like Winter Jam and playing in his home state, just an hour or so down the road from where he grew up. You could see in his eyes and hear in his voice how much he was putting into the performance and it was potentially one of his best. It was followed by Battistelli, who exuded excitement for being back on Winter Jam for the first time since 2011, when she was a relatively new artist. Now she has two more albums under her belt, some no. 1 singles and and a few Dove Awards, you could tell how antsy she was to get onstage and perform for the fans. Her set ended with the stage being adorned by bubbles that shot from the front of the stage, making for an even more fun atmosphere.

Finally, around 11 p.m., it was time for the moment many fans came to Winter Jam- Skillet- and it was well worth the wait.

As the lights went down and the choir intro to “Not Gonna Die” from Rise blasted over the speakers (we’ve been thinking for almost 2 years in the office that would make a great intro), the LED screens split away, revealing the band standing together before exploding like an erupting volcano and the show had finally begun.

Their set was a short eight song set but they made up for it in theatrics and- let’s face it- an eight song Skillet set is a bigger experience than a 15-song set from a lot of bands these days.

For those who’ve seen Skillet numerous times, they made sure to throw in some new aspects for Skillet- a new intro and opening song in “Not Gonna Die,” platforms that took singer/bassist John Cooper and drummer Jen Ledger all around the arena during “Hero,” which gave everyone in the arena a chance to see them up close as well as an acoustic banjo version of “Those Nights”- equipped with glasses that made them look even more ‘hip’ and ‘cool.’

Most of the dates of Winter Jam this year have featured extensive amounts of pyro and fire during Skillet’s set, but not in Indianapolis. They were also missing Jonathan Chu- their violin player. However, that didn’t hold them back at all- they still put on a show worthy of being a Skillet show and for those who only get to go to once concert each year, Skillet made the price of admission worth it alone, let alone adding the other nine artists on the bill.

With just a few days left on the tour, make sure you get out to one of the remaining dates of the tour- if you can’t, a lot of the artists will be playing the festival circuit this year so make sure you get there.

-Reggie Edwards

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We had a chance to sit down with many of the Winter Jam artists prior to the Indianapolis date. Check out interviews with Skillet, Francesca Battistelli, Building 429, For King & Country, Family Force 5, Veridia, About A Mile and Blanca. Check them out in the YouTube playlist below: