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.
Before Thursday night’s concerts, we talked to members of Switchfoot and Relient K – audio from those chats will be coming soon – and both groups talked about how gratifying it is to hear a crowd sing their songs back to them.
It can also be pretty gratifying for the audience.
Switchfoot’s performance, in particular, demonstrated how much having songs the crowd has taken to heart can create an intimate atmosphere, even in an amphitheater packed with thousands of people.
We heard how well the crowd knew the Switchfoot catalog when frontman Jon Foreman turned the microphone over to the audience during Dare You to Move and the crowd called it back to him crisply. Relient K’s set demonstrated the same familiarity, unintentionally, when frontman Matt Thiessen’s microphone briefly failed, and the audience picked up the lead.
Members of Switchfoot, which has bounced between mainstream and Christian markets, like to say they are not preaching or performing with an agenda. But Foreman delivers plenty of exhortations from the stage, and a talk about civil rights leader John M. Perkins and comments such as “Works cannot be separated from faith, my friends” seemed to be taken to heart by an audience that knew exactly where he was coming from.
Music spread out across the festival site Thursday, including the new Galleria stage, which is billed as an acoustic stage, though acts such as Bluetree and Phil Keaggy plugged in. Keaggy reportedly commanded an audience of musicians and festival officials created an impromptu autograph session after one of his sets.
We’ve seen a lot of dream tours lately.
Michael W. Smith and Steven Curtis Chapman went out for a show that hit Rupp Arena earlier this year. Another heavenly lineup was Third Day, Switchfoot and Jars of Clay – who didn’t get to Kentucky.
Thanksgiving weekend will close out with another great headlining duo, playing in Louisville, that offers a compelling look at the current state of Christian rock.
Winter Wonder Slam blows into Broadbent Arena with TobyMac and Relient K topping the bill.
With its growing mainstream cred, it seems a little surprising Relient is still taking part in faith-based tours. But as targeted at general-market listeners as its latest album, “Forget and Not Slow Down,” is, it’s also a reaffirmation of the band’s faith base. And by teaming with Toby, Matt Thiessen and company help present a microcosm of the best of Christian rock that is both reaching out and playing to the choir.
TobyMac has yet to score a mainstream hit, though that is certainly not due to a lack of quality, as Toby and his Diverse City Band offer a blend of hip-hop and rock that is second to none. And Relient K has moved out into the marketplace by being another crack ensemble that has shown a faith-based band can write songs with mainstream appeal, and secular audiences don’t mind.
So here it is, a tour that shows you where Christian rock is going: in several different directions.
Coming next year
One big marquee tour making a return to Rupp Arena for the third straight year is Winter Jam, the Newsong-presented tour on which the venerable band willingly plays second fiddle to current chart-toppers.
Headliners for the 2010 edition, which will be at Rupp on March 13, are Third Day, Newsboys, Tenth Avenue North, Fireflight, Sidewalk Prophets, Robert Pierre, and Revive. This will be the area’s first chance to hear Newsboys with former dc talk member Michael Tait on lead vocals.
Tickets are $10, and they are available only at the door.
- If you are looking for the David Crowder Band concert review that appeared with the print version of this column, click here.
Toward the end of Family Force 5′s evening-ending performance at the Ichthus Festival Thursday night, frontman Solomon Olds asked how many people in the crowd had seen the Peach State band a few years ago, when it was playing one of Ichthus’ smaller stages.
There were a lot of cheers, which is totally plausible, because FF5 has been a buzz band at Ichthus for years, even earning an on-stage shout out from Relient K’s Matt Thiessen one year when the group was still playing small stages.
Similarly, Hawk Nelson has risen through the ranks, starting off with an appearance on an NBC drama as its calling card and taking early afternoon slots.
Thursday night, Hawk and Family Force 5 took rightful places among Ichthus headliners — acts that make slogging through a day of rain and mud worth it.
And they were worth it. Hawk Nelson sported a newfound maturity, particularly in frontman Jason Dunn, that made them seem right at home in the nighttime slot. And FF5 may have risen through the ranks, but when the band stepped on stage to close the night out, they seemed like they belonged there.
Thursday night, on the main stage, we saw the fruits of years of work paying off for two patient bands, and we saw two great performances.
Stay tuned: Herald-Leader videographer Jason Morrow spent Thursday hanging out with Hawk Nelson, and he had his video camera with him. Watch out for his film later this weekend.
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