The journal of a Kentucky culture vulture
We got a chance to talk to Tim Foreman and Drew Shirley of Switchfoot before their set Thursday night at the Ichthus Festival. Click play to hear our chat. (Btw, the guy who walks through toward the end of the interview is Relient K’s Matt Thiessen.)
By the way, the line-up for Questapalooza was announced this morning, and Switchfoot tops the bill, which includes fellow Ichthus 2010 artists Newsboys, for their third Lexington-area show this year, and last year’s Questapalooza opener Group 1 Crew. The show is Sept. 5, and tickets go on sale July 4.
Ichthus stayed true to the form of recent years, ending the festival on a worshipful note Saturday with the Main Stage pairing of Casting Crowns and BarlowGirl.
One of the things many people were commenting on over the weekend was the strong pairings of evening headliners – the rock night of Skillet and Red, modern rock of Switchfoot and Relient K -and the Saturday night duo had sort of a worship/traditional contemporary Christian music vibe.
Saturday’s headliners had tough acts to follow.
TobyMac and Switchfoot fielded big, lively bands Wednesday and Thursday respectively, and then Skillet came with that and Fourth of July-worthy pyrotechnic show.
Crowns, by comparison, put most of the responsibility for filling the amphitheater on the shoulders of lead singer Mark Hall. Barlow Girl, which in previous daytime Main Stage outings (they were one of the bands that braved the snow day in 2005) was packed to the center of the stage by the equipment of later acts, seemed a little lost spread out across the entire main stage, Saturday night.
Sanctus Real, playing earlier in the afternoon, delivered the most lively set I got to sample on the Main Stage Saturday.
For those who wanted to rock a little more before going home, there were offerings on other stages such as Disciple and Pillar on the Deep End, and many took in those shows. This year, the Deep End really did claim the title of Main Stage Jr. as much as it ever has.
And this was as complete a festival as Ichthus has put together. From this perspective, it was a little like going to New York: Not enough time to do everything you want to do, even with the extra day. It hardly feels like a weekend in rural Kentucky, until you look around at the hills and cows – and we don’t mean the Chik-fil-a cow.
Photos by Rich Copley | LexGo.com
Except for a Saturday morning thunderstorm, Ichthus was hot and dry this year. Festivalgoers had to figure out how to beat the heat.
TD and Veronica Benton of White Collar Sideshow stopped by the press trailer Saturday afternoon to talk about their performance, which they presented Friday night on the Main Stage. They chatted about the genesis of the piece, a “live silent movie,” according to Veronica, about their own struggles with addiction, and about trying to get the piece out before people.
Click play to hear our chat.
There was a time at Ichthus when the Main Stage headliner would finish, and a speaker from the stage would send everyone back to the camp site, often mentioning a lights out time.
Now, they say stick around for the late night program. And oh, there are bands going until the wee hours on many side stages.
Friday night, a crowd stretched out across the lawn in front of the Deep End Stage for an 11 p.m. performance by The Devil Wears Prada that actually started around 11:45. When the show got started, lead vocalist Mike Hranica wasted no time whipping the crowd into a moshing frenzy.
Back on the Main Stage, the White Collar Sideshow delivered its theatrical take on addiction and redemption.
And the festival doesn’t actually end until Sunday morning, with the Doorpost Project Film Festival winners on the main stage and bands such as Anberlin and The Showdown playing after midnight.
If you’re a football fan, you probably spent last fall hearing Skillet‘s hit Hero played as part of promotions for NBC’s Sunday Night Football. And wrestling fans were treated to Monster in several WWE programs.
The financial rewards for that exposure weren’t great, but frontman John Cooper said Skillet did see other benefits.
“Mainstream radio has always stayed away from Skillet,” Cooper said backstage at Ichthus Friday. “We’re pretty straight with our message and somehow we didn’t seem legit to them.
“But when the NFL and the WWE work with you, it somehow legitimizes you. People say, ‘Oh, Skillet must be tough.’”
Skillet looked pretty tough on the Main Stage Friday night. The pyrotechnics that, for a while, have been parts of the band’s show now permeate the entire concert, with explosions going off in virtually every number, save for the power ballads.
A few years ago, Cooper was happy just to have some pyro. Now, the challenge is to keep growing the production.
“That’s my favorite competition, with myself,” he says.
This year’s finale included cellist Tate Olsen and violinist Jonathan Chu being raised above the crowd on hydraulic lifts.
At this point, the most surprising thing Skillet might be able to do is show up and do an unplugged set.
“It feels pretty fast to us,” guitar player Anthony Armstrong said backstage at Ichthus on Friday. “The past four years have been a whirlwind.”
Ichthus alone has been an example. They first came in 2007 playing the Deep End Stage with their first album, The End of Silence. That album ballooned, and Red returned to the Main Stage the next year, closing out an afternoon. This year, with hit album No. 2, Innocence and Instinct, Red was back opening the evening card for Skillet.
And fans crammed around the stage like the were Skillet – 15-year veterans with a catalog of hit albums – or something.
“We know there are bands out there who have been around longer than us with more ablums who haven’t made it to this level,” Armstrong said.
Drummer Joe Rickard knows one of those bands well, The Wedding, which he used to be part of and says he still has tremendous respect for.
“It’s a blessing,” he said. “This is somehow part of God’s scheme … to spread the word.”
Bassist Randy Armstrong wants to be something else: an inspiration to young music fans like all the guys in the band were a few years ago. It’s tattooed on his arm: Inspired.
About Rich Copley & Copious Notes
Raised by opera-loving parents in a rock ’n’ roll world, Rich Copley has parlayed his broad interests into his career writing about arts and entertainment. Since 1998, he has covered performing arts, film and faith-based popular culture for the Lexington Herald-Leader, the daily newspaper in Lexington, Ky. MORE | E-mail Rich