Skillet and Third Day blow fans away at The Roadshow

In Christian music there has been a growing trend in new tours popping up. These tours feature a unique lineup package where 10 bands play the shows at $10 admission at the door. Winter Jam started the trend and The Roadshow has joined them, adding a second yearly tour.

Originally named The Rock and Worship Roadshow, 2014 saw the tour revamp its design and re-label itself The Roadshow. Complete with a new logo, larger extended stage, two giant LED screens on the sides of the stage as well as a giant LED screen onstage that separated itself at times, the new and improved Roadshow Tour is one that you must check out.

This year’s lineup features one of the most star-studded and heavy-hitting lineups yet with We As Human, Vertical Church Band, Royal Tailor, Andy Mineo, Third Day, Jamie Grace and Skillet.

After a pre-show set from newcomer Kyle Sherman, who started the night off shortly after doors opened with a three song set that got the crowd interested and warmed up for the rest of the night, We As Human took the stage by storm.

We As Human, though their self-title debut just released last year, are no strangers to the big stage, having opened tours for Skillet, Disciple, Family Force 5, Red and others as well as playing many package tours such as Winter Jam and the mainstream rock tour Carnival of Madness- all in the last two and a half years.

Much like Skillet, We As Human have played to both Christian and mainstream rock crowds and have garnered quite the following in both. They’ve paid their dues early and gained the experience needed and necessary to take the show to the top and it showed when The Roadshow hit Louisville’s KFC Yum! Center.

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Anyone who’s seen We As Human knows what they bring to the table and wasn’t surprised in the least bit when they exploded into “Strike Back” and, like a bat out of hell (or Heaven), tore the roof off the house with authority. They also featured Trevor Sarver from The Wedding on guitar as a fill-in for the evening, which, although the vast majority of the crowd probably didn’t notice, those who were aware were in for a treat.

Their set was four songs, much too short for We As Human to rightfully show what they can really do and they really should have been later in the lineup. It’s a shame when good bands don’t get the set time they deserve, but they took the stage and rocked the crowd in true We As Human fashion and virtually everyone in the arena was an instant fan- if they weren’t already.

They ended their set with “Zombie,” during which they were joined by Skillet vocalist John Cooper for an ending of all endings and which had everyone in the building yelling and screaming along with the band.

Now that’s how you start a concert.

Next up was Vertical Church Band, who slowed the pace down a bit. They didn’t have the hard rock stylings of We As Human, but instead had a packed stage of praise and worship music that had every fan in the arena with arms raised, eyes closed while singing and jumping along to the music. The crowd felt it and made it known.

In between each band the crowd was treated to speakers, comedians, members of Grand Canyon University and video messages from Bart Millard, singer of MercyMe, who started the entire tour six years ago.

Each speaker spoke for a good 10-20 minutes, giving uplifting messages, leading group prayer and leading in an offering.

During the offering, the crowd was treated to the worship team from Grand Canyon University. They were impressive but three songs is a little long for a worship team to do during an offering- even at an arena.

The speakers were good as well, but there were more times than not that the crowd was presented with opportunities to buy Bible software services, sponsor a child in another country, influenced to attend Grand Canyon University and more. A little bit of it is okay, but in between every band was a little overboard and overwhelming at times. The show should be more about the music.

After Vertical Church Band, newcomers Royal Tailor graced the stage and turned it up right out of the gate. With a high-energy, fast-paced stage performance with a pop-rock and almost disco rock feel to their music, it’s no surprise how Royal Tailor is blowing up and growing in popularity at the rapid rate they are.

Frontman Tauren Wells resembled Michael Jackson with his dancing, hand gestures and stage moves while the rest of the band danced while playing and more.

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Look for Royal Tailor to get even bigger in the next year or two- they may just be the real deal.

Rapper Andy Mineo followed Royal Tailor and cranked the voltage up even higher with a high-octane-Jesus rap-filled set that had everyone in the arena on their feet.

With just a DJ and drummer accompanying him on stage, Mineo knows how to fill the rest of the stage with his energy and crowd engagement, skateboarding down the extended stage and high fiving everyone in his path. His skateboard had a camera on the end of it that he used to shoot video of everyone in the crowd for YouTube and for the LED stage screens.

Christian rap is growing in popularity recently with artists like Lecrae, Flame, Tedashii and Trip Lee. You can add Andy Mineo to that list as he’s one of the most talented rappers in the game- and not just Christian rap.

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To end the set he brought everyone from the Fan Experience on stage for a Harlem Shake sendoff that had tubas, a drumline and more.

After another speaker, the lights went down and a video played on the stage screens recapping Third Day’s career in a matter of seconds and, with a bang, Third Day blasted into “Take Me to the River” to start their set.

The song had a country-esque feel to it and even featured a steel guitar, adding to the feel of the song. Third Day have been one of the major Christian powerhouses for years and it was split in the crowd for how many came for Third Day and how many came for Skillet.

For just an eight-song set, Third Day packed in as many of the hits as they could with some of the newer tracks from Miracle, their latest record.

“God of Wonders” and “Cry Out to Jesus” were in the set, which is what everyone in the crowd wanted. They also threw in “I Need a Miracle,” their latest major hit and continued through a set that had some rock, some CCM, some country and some funk rock. Fans from any Third Day era were right at home.

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After they wrapped it up, singer Mac Powell introduced Jamie Grace, who he said is one of his favorite singers in all of music, not just Christian music.

Grace took the stage at the very end of the extended stage so she’d be up-close-and-personal with the fans.

While she only got maybe 15-20 minutes for a set, she managed to fit in the songs everyone wanted to hear- “You Lead,” “Hold Me” and “Beautiful Day-” and took time to talk to the audience for a couple minutes too.

She told the fans that when she was younger she was always the kid who didn’t know how to stop talking. Everyone found it annoying so she started turning her stories into songs and then her mom found it adorable. “So, kids,” she said,”  when the grownups tell you you’re talking too much, just start turning them into songs and they’ll think it’s adorable.”

For such a short set, it was one of the best of the night.

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As soon as Grace finished up, the lights dimmed, the giant LED stage screens illuminated and Skillet’s intro music hit.

The crowd hadn’t gone this crazy all night as a techno remix of “Hero” hit the speakers.

As the intro was going, the members of Skillet took the stage and blasted into “Hero,” as frontman John Cooper came on stage yelling for the crowd to make some noise and asking if they were ready to rock with Skillet and getting the crowd into a frenzy before the set even really kicked off.

They blew through “Hero” and came to “Sick of It,” during which the LED stage screens showed the fan lyric video that was released prior to the song’s official release as cyro smoke shot vertically from the sides of the stages adding an even bigger level of excitement to the show.

Their set was short just like Third Day, so they played a whopping eight songs but made sure to play all the highly-demanded ones (minus “Comatose”) including some tracks from the new record, Rise.

Cooper was fun to watch as always, being one of the most energetic frontmen in all of rock. The band couldn’t have sounded better and hit every point head on and didn’t make a single mistake.

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When you go see Skillet, you’re guaranteed that regardless of whether it’s a short festival/co-headline show or a full production headlining set, that you’re gonna get your money’s worth and go away wanting to see Skillet again and again….and again. There’s a reason why a lot of Skillet fans are on their ninth or tenth concert- they can’t get enough.

The Roadshow is no exception with the band playing only eight songs but leaving nothing on the stage and giving everything they have, making sure that the people for whom this may be the only time they see the band, went away saying it was the best show they’ll ever see- and it probably was.

-Reggie Edwards

Phone interview with Third Day’s David Carr about The Roadshow:

Phone interview with Jamie Grace about The Roadshow: