This past Sunday I went to a Christian music concert called Winter Jam. I had a great time. The experience wasn't without it's issues though.
The IdeaAbout three weeks ago I was at men's bible study and a thought occurred to me. We have a lot of kids, teens and a few young adults, so why not start putting together some type of youth group? I wasn't the only one with the idea. We all agreed this was something we should do. The next step was to decide what to do. I suggested Winter Jam. So it was decided that our first event with the youth would be to go to the concert.
The GameplanThe plan was to leave around 4pm, get some food at Golden Corral and get to the concert around 6pm.
Not everything goes as planned.
We went to Golden Corral and wouldn't you know it, all of Elyria was there too. There were two large parties in front of us and the estimated time to be sat was almost an hour. That wasn't going to work so we decided to go to Subway.
All 20 of us walked into Subway and scared the lone worker behind the counter. Poor girl. She looked like she was about to cry. Her eyes got real big and you could see the life get sucked out of her. Luckily we were considerate and smart enough to go somewhere else. It would have taken too long to make 20 subs and this girl was about to have a panic attack.
We wound up going through the McDonalds drive through and eating on the way to the concert. By the time we got to the concert and parked we were at about 6pm.
Seating?The concert was 10 dollars general seating. First come, first served. We arrived late so it was impossible for 20 people to sit together. We split up and tried to find at least 3 or 4 seats together. I think we were wrong about the time also because we missed the first four acts.
Always Somebody to Spoil the FunIt's a Christian concert. There were about 15,000 people in attendance. So it would be logical that there would be a few rotten apples in the bunch.
Guess who found them?
I was standing with a few friends and we were content with standing. I had brought my camera and I thought about walking around and getting different shots of the bands. Then the MC of the concert asked if people would move inwards to open up seats near the isles so people could sit. As this was happening an usher came up to us and asked how many people we had. We said 4. He said to follow him. He placed us at for open seats near the stage. Winning!
So we were happy to sit there. I noticed that the people we were sitting around didn't move or smile. They just sat there and acted like it was torture to be at the concert. I thought that was odd.
About 20 minutes in the guy next to me says, "You stole my friends seats."
I said, "Excuse me?"
He continued to say that I stole his friends seats. Then the guy in front of me said that their friends left and we stole their seats. I told them both that we were unaware that these seats were taken and we were placed here by the usher. That quieted them.
Then during intermission the woman that was with them kept talking about how we stole their friends seats. She talked to people as if we weren't there. I kept quiet. I really wanted to say something. Those of you that know me know that my keeping quiet is quite an achievement as I am prone to making my thoughts known. :-)
Honestly, we had no idea that those seats were occupied. We thought they were what was open after everyone moved inward. The usher brought us there. There were no coats on the seats to claim them. No one said anything to the usher that they were occupied. But yet they continued to accuse us of stealing those seats.
I write about this encounter because it's things like this that make people not want to go to church. I guess I'm spoiled to be around such godly and loving people that things like this don't happen. They allowed the seat thing to ruin their entire concert experience and that is sad.
OK. Enough about party poopers...
The ConcertI will admit I didn't expect much. I have been to christian concerts before and let's just say the production value was sub par. I had seen local worship bands with better production value than some christian artists performances. To my surprise every group we saw was top notch.
What struck me the most was how great these groups sounded live. There were a few groups that I have heard their music on the local christian radio station and they sound domesticated and adult contemporary. I hear them play live and their songs came alive. They rocked it out! I will admit there were a few times I stood there with my mouth open in disbelief that the song I hear live is the same one currently in rotation on the radio.
I gotta go to more live performances.
The MessageWinter Jam was in many ways the 21st century equivalent of a tent revival. There was of course, mass marketing and all the bells and whistles you would expect. It didn't bother me though. Mainly because the producers of Winter Jam made a great case as to why they are relevant and why you should support them.
This concert was not only an opportunity to hear great bands and have fun, but to reach out to teens and young adults that are hurting. Being a teenager today is a lot harder than it was when I was a teenager and I'm not that far removed. These musical groups weren't there to just sing and get a paycheck. They truly want to touch the lives of people through their music and change lives in the process.
A message was given by Pastor Nick Hall. He knows how to talk to young people. He did a great job of bringing the gospel message home. The headliner was a band called Skillet. They are a hard rock band along the lines of Evanescence and Linkin Park. They were great. I was pretty pumped after hearing them.
AfterthoughtsI believe that the bands for Winter Fest were carefully picked and the event carefully produced. It was obvious that Winter Jam was more than just entertainment but an opportunity to connect with teens and young adults through a language that is so universal all of us know it. That is the language of music.
I am so glad I went. I know lives were changed. I have a greater appreciation for today's christian artists.
I can't wait for next year!