Well, we got a little lost...in the Jesus music!!! Actually, I got more lost in Jesus than I did in the music. But oh my friends, Christian music festivals geared specifically toward 12-16 year olds are probably my most favorite things on earth. Yes, yes they are. I would even trade one giant cheesecake for them. In. A. Heartbeat.
On Friday morning, we brought Reagan off to play with her awesome cuz and fantastic aunt and uncle. We knew she was going to have fun when we put her down and she ran away from us to the toys. We asked if she would come say goodbye to us, she turned, waved, said “Bye” and then ran away. She was none too pleased that Mama marched over and gave her a hug either. Talk about annoying interruption of playing with toys! The nerve! So after being sent off, we headed back home and met our KC concert buddies - JeremyNotCamp and Sarah. Can I just tell you, these two know how to have fun at a rock concert! I thank them for driving and jumping up and down. You guys were experiential.
We got to Kansas City and checked into our hotel and then headed straight over to the theater in time for the music. Music that started at 3:30 p.m. and lasted till about 11:00 p.m. or so. There are 3 stages at Rock the Light. Two of them are along the perimeter host some lesser known groups. The main stage is where the “bigger” names appear later on in the evening.
We listened to some lesser known groups and it was clear to see that they were lesser known because (a) they had just started out and were going places or (b) they were horrendous. Rest assured, its still possible to have a great deal of fun when you listen to the horrendous ones. Because someone in your group may start doing the robot to the music and embarrass the stuffing out of their spouse. Its been known to happen.
After listening to the lesser known peeps, we wandered over to the main stage where we found our seats...directly in front of the subwoofers (at least I think that’s what they were - they were the ones with all of the bass). Yeah. Loud stuff came outta them there thingamajiggers. But we could still see well when our eyeballs weren’t vibrating in our skulls. And we made friends with the couple sitting next to us. Until JeremyNotCamp got slapped in the face by their wild gesturing.
So we listened to several groups on the main stage.
Special D. I have never seen a group with more over-exagerated facial expressions. It kinda took away from my hearing them sing. I can tell you they were energetic. But I cannot remember what they sounded like which is to say their music was forgettable.
33 Miles. A Christian country group. I thought they were really good, but I kinda like country music so it worked for me. They did a couple covers which were pretty fun - like Days Go By by Keith Urban. Their original stuff was also good. The lead had a good sound to his voice and they had a nice group of guys playing. I’d definitely recommend checking them out.
DecembeRadio. Aye yi yi. Well, I could blame it on the fact that according to JeremyNotCamp their “sound was all wrong” - which I think means something about the instruments being poorly mixed sound wise. Perhaps that’s why we didn’t like them. We just didn’t. They seem like nice people. I’m sure they are. But I just don’t care for their music. After their set we sat down and Sarah said, “Well, that was long.” That about sums it up, I think.
Sanctus Real. Oh. My. Goodness. That was such a fun set. They were great. I expected them to be and they were. I don’t know a lot of their songs, but I was really thrilled to hear several I recognized. Very good show. Great music. I’m probably buying their CD next. I could have heard their set alone and felt my ticket price for that day was worth it. Good stuff.
JaeL. See, didn’t like them at all. Not one single bit. I think, again, it was partially because of a really poor mix of sound. I could hear that the girl was singing, but I really have no idea what she sang about. Didn’t catch a single word. It was one of those groups where I heard them hit a warm-up chord on their electric guitar and I turned to Brian and said, “You are going to want your earplugs.” He did. So did I. This was the only group I used my earplugs for the whole 2 days. There was lots of screaming by the lead guitarist. While that would not necessarily put them out of my likeable range, it was just way way too much. All noise and no music, seemingly.
Casting Crowns. Oh it was good. I was amazed by how they had so many different band members take part in leading worship. It was definitely not a “this is our lead singer and he is the only one capable of talking so we will all stay back here in the shadows” kind of group. Oh no. They were great. Really great.
So then we went to the hotel and I took large doses of allergy medication.
We had a very leisurely morning and around 10:00 packed up and headed back to the theater. Have I mentioned its an outdoor theater? Well, it is. Which explains the allergy medication. Anyway...we sat and listened to all the main stage artists do their sound checking. I’m weird and have had some limited exposure to the stage so I find this whole sound check thing completely fascinating. We sat in the middle of the second or third row and watched as all the various groups came out on stage with their mighty masses of equipment and set all their monitors and levels and whatnot to their desired specifications. It gave a nice introduction to what we were going to hear later that day when they came out for their actual set. Then we left to get a late lunch and tried our best to fill up our tummies because food at the theater - it was expensive. Very. I do not pay $4 for a bottle of water. I’d just as soon drink out of the faucet in the bathroom. Or not drink at all.
We had this mini-battle with the gate personnel nearly every time we went in or out. See, they stooped us every time and one of us would have to go back to the Jam Van (translation: the car) (which we had no trouble finding thanks to JeremyNotCamp setting off the car alarm for our convenience) because we tried to bring in a bottle of pop. Bottles of water were fine. Not pop and not snacks. Whatever. Makes no sense to me, but whatever. So the last time we went in, we got smart. They checked our bags, but never our pockets. So we stuffed the men’s pockets full...and our bras. No no. I’m just kidding. But it was considered. Fortunately, the guys had big enough pockets. So we get through just a-ok fine. Ha! I’m celebrating our victory in my heart, and as I’m walking away from the gate the “gate-keeper” unknowingly speaks words of condemnation upon me as she says, “I jus’ really appreciate y’all bein’ honest wit me. Makes my job a whole lot easier. Know wha’ I’m sayin’.” Yes, Lord, I heard you there.
Then we sat in our much-better-than-Friday seats and enjoyed some good tuneage.
Transmission. They were okay. Only 3 of them. But they sounded good. I enjoyed their set. They played a few originals and a few covers. I wouldn’t say they were awesome, but they weren’t terrible.
Hamilton & Hailey. I probably got their name wrong there. But it doesn’t matter. You don’t need to go look them up. They were probably the most inexperienced main stage artists I have ever seen. Seriously, I kinda felt bad for them. The music was okay. But the lead singer - the only guy who talked - was sooooo nervous. At one point the little lemonade sales guy was walking through the crowd and he yelled out “LEMONADE” - like he did a thousand times that day. The lead singer squinted into the crowd and said, “Hello! I can’t see you but I know that voice!” They need some more stage exposure.
Group 1 Crew. They are basically the Black Eyed Peas on Jesus. Two guys and one girl. The girl sang and the guys rapped. And I did not expect to really like them all that much. But I did. They were lots of fun. I enjoyed them immensely. I smiled the whole time.
Beautiful Republic. See, I don’t mind a little screaming here and there, but most often I don’t really go for it. Some people LOVE that stuff. Others hate it. Brian, he would fall into the “hate it” category. Except! Except! People, I think this was his favorite group. Can you believe I just said that? He even said after the whole set was done, “That was pretty cool!” Which is when three of us just sat there and stared at him for a few seconds; because those 4 words were more than he had said in two whole days. Just in case I’m not clear here, they were really really fun. Really fun. What I liked about them, oh where do I begin. The lead singer, his name is Ben. That I even know his first name is a very good sign. During their sound check they were friendly and endearing to 99% of the crowd. They didn’t ignore us. And then, after the sound check, Ben did something remarkable. He jumped off the stage and shook hands with almost everyone. Sorry JeremyNotCamp. He thanked people for coming and listening. I was impressed. During their set, for their last song, he again jumped off the stage and went out into the crowd. I don’t really know how he does this but when this guy sings, he absolutely goes nuts - jumping around dancing all over the place - screaming now and then...or a whole whole lot. I wondered if his bandmates were afraid of getting clobbered by the micstand he twirled around like a baton. But evidently not because they weren’t paying attention. His guitarists - I’ve never seen people play like that while literally jumping and jiving like crazy. I cannot play whilst sitting on my piano bench. They play while swing their guitars WAY above their heads. Clearly, I have a long way to go. Anyway...Ben jumps off the stage and walks around through the crowd - right past us, behind us, beside us. Which is where he ended his set - across the aisle from us standing on the seats. It was awesome. We liked them muy much.
Pillar. We. Rocked. Out. They are a very hard rock group. Some screaming. Again, didn’t really expect to like them a whole lot. But I loved them. LOVED THEM! These guys KNOW how to put on a show, people! They had us standing up and jumping and screaming. Oh it was a good time. He had probably the best crowd motivation of all the groups we saw. The whole place was jumping at certain points. Here’s my only hesitation on them. The lead singer has a little boy. A very little boy. He’s not probably more than 2 years old. During the soundcheck, he’s holding his son. His son is adorable, grabbing the microphone and saying “Check one two” in his most adorable baby boy voice. Cute, doesn’t really do justice. And then during the concert same adorable little boy is sitting stage left in his stroller watching his Daddy rock the house. Yeah, cute. But. I cannot really explain to you how loud this place was. I mean, I’ve never been to a concert with volume levels as high as they are at Rock the Light. And I know things probably sound a little different on stage. But its still gotta be really loud. And I wouldn’t have my 2 year old up there without some serious ear plug action for those little ears. While I really liked Pillar, the Mommy in me wanted to cup my hands over that little boy’s ears.
Remedy Drive. Again, not a group I really expected to enjoy. And really, their music isn’t so much my thing. But watching them on stage was quite an event. I don’t think I love anything in the world more than seeing people go absolutely nuts for God while they play music from their heart. That’s just totally up my alley. They are four brothers and the lead singer played keyboard and guitar. Now, when I say he played keyboard, I mean that he played keyboard while doing a headstand on it. Yeah, I know. You think I just made that up. But he did. He stood on it. He jumped clear over it once. He did this funky shoulder stand on it. And to end the show, he was curled up on it in the fetal position. Sounds weird when I say it that way. But it had me laughing. They were fun. For that, I liked them.
Jeremy Camp. Numero cinco. My 5th time seeing Mr. Jeremy Camp was no disappointment. None whatsoever. He played some of his very best songs. We were again all jumping up and down for several songs. And then he presented us with the best opportunity we had all weekend to raise our hands and worship our Creator. Absolutely incredible. Jeremy infuses all of his concerts with scripture and you can not only hear his heart for the Lord, but you can see it. He lives his music, people. And I love the way God puts these profound things into Jeremy’s heart so that we can learn and grow in our worship. That man is humble. He directs all praise to his Heavenly Father. He is absolutely focused on giving all glory to God. He ended his set with “Give me Jesus” and it was beautiful. A perfect perfect end to an AWESOME festival.
You would like Rock the Light if you like many different types of music. You would like Rock the Light if you like to jump up and down and scream like a 14 year old. You would like Rock the Light if you like getting punched in the face with a beach ball every 5 minutes. You would like Rock the Light if you like to go to a rock concert. See, I wouldn’t say this festival is for everyone. I wouldn’t say you would find it as “awesome” as I did, because I know we’re all really different. I know some of you would listen to the screamers or the rockers or the rappers and say, “Yeah, this is not my thing.” And I’m totally okay with that. But for those of you who like to try different things, who are rockers at heart, who enjoy watching people rock out for their God, you would feel so at home. And when I think of what the new heaven and the new earth will be like when Jesus returns, a huge part of me hopes there is a place with all that rockin’ and rollin’ for people like me.
I suppose I’m not your average 28 year old mom. There are many days when I am embarrassed myself because I don’t really fit the “mold”. But then I realize that I was created this way by a Holy and Righteous One who created ALL the music I heard at Rock the Light. He poured it out into people who could go out and bring it to the masses. He enabled them to bring His message to thousands in their own unique way. Unique. Its not for everyone. Maybe you’d prefer to go to a Gaither Vocal Band concert (I’ve been to one of those too, by the way, and liked it). But for those of us who hunger and thirst for the word of God in the form of guitar chords and soaring vocals, glimpses of eternity happen at Rock the Light.
Its definitely worth getting home at 3:30 AM and being a blob for 2 days afterward.