It was a Friday, just like any other Friday, except that it involved music. Lots of music, loud music, good music (in my opinion!).
It was a Friday full of disappointment, as well as great enjoyment and miscellaneous good times.
It really started earlier in the week – the band I work with (Chasing Grace) had elected to make a group trip to Roanoke to see the Winter Jam featuring RED, KJ-52, Kutless, David Crowder Band and the Newsboys, among others. The rest of the group were leaving at 1:30, would have got them to Roanoke around 3:30 or 4. However, I accepted an offer to leave at 2 – a decision I now realize was not the wisest – although the question remains how different it would have been.
So we left at 2, and had to pause in Harrisonburg briefly before we got going. We were making good time when it is decided we need to stop and get food – this seems fine, we’ll stop, get food, and eat in the car on the way. No, this is not a good plan, there’s plenty of time, we can sit down and eat and then carry on. Another unwise decision.
Eventually we reach Roanoke and see the Civic Center, where the event was held. Hordes of people surround the building, and my nervous level rises even further. “Don’t worry” I was told, “It seats 10,000” and “I doubt there’ll be 6 or 7 thousand.” He was right, there weren’t 7,000, not even 10,000. However many people the building could seat, there were more people trying to get in, and we were at the back of the queue. For around 2 hours we stood in line after being told that no more could be let in – they promised that as people left they could let just as many people in.
As “consolation” the Sidewalk Prophets came out and did an acoustic set on the sidewalk for us, before having to pack up and run inside to play for the crowds in there. Then after playing inside Jason Castro (of American Idol fame) came out and played for us. He was really cool, being his first tour he was excited to play but felt really nervous being so close to his audience and being able to see and connect so easily. He played a couple of songs and then like the Sidewalk Prophets did, sold CDs and signed along with photos for anyone outside who wanted them.
While waiting in line I met a nice couple from Harrisonburg. They had seen the show in Charleston WV and were just great to be with. We talked a little after spending 45 minutes or an hour standing at the very front of our line – able to touch the door, but not able to open it and walk in.
At around 8:45 – 9 we got in (for free!). I followed them and we ended up behind the stage. The couple (who are remaining nameless!) I came with got in a few minutes later, and they found the rest of our band (in much better seats, and with room for me and the couple I found to join them).
I got in just in time to see the end of the David Crowder Band set – I Saw The Light was amazing. I was a little sad I didn’t get to see the rest of it, but that was fine – I was more disappointed that I didn’t get to see RED play (one of the three I came to see). Out came KJ-52 to do I think two songs before leaving the stage. Then Kutless came out (two of the three) and started with It Is Well before several other songs. Chris August played a song, and Tony Nolan kept going on about things that are now about normal for a Christian event. Finally out came the Newsboys who put on a rocking show.
Michael Tait can not be faulted on a lack of energy, that is one thing that is certain. He was almost constantly moving, either it was around the stage or up and down the catwalk making contact with his fans. He held the hand of a little girl briefly while singing a verse and then kissed it before moving on. Having never really seen the Newsboys before I can’t speak for how much they have changed over time but he definitely did a great job as a frontman, albeit not being Peter Furler.
It seems that the Newsboys a) have too much money and b) have a fascination for moving things. All four of them had platforms that moved in one way or another. Michael Tait had a straight up-and-down platform about 2/3s of the way out the catwalk, the guitarist and the keyboardist both had moving platforms on arms that would allow them to be raised up and moved around over the audience, and the drummer had a tilting/turning platform (readily found on Youtube) used during the finale.
I got three CDs for $5 each (the Newsboys CD was $10, but they did a 2-for-1 deal and I went halves with a friend). Newsboys, Kutless and Sidewalk Prophets – all signed by the band members.
So it was not an altogether bad experience. I met a couple of great people, heard of a couple of great restaurants in Harrisonburg that I’d never heard of, heard 2 of the 3 bands that I’d come to see, and got 3 new CDs that I wanted, all of which were signed by the artists that recorded them. And had a great Pizza in Troutville.