Monday, January 27, 2014

Winter Jam 2014 Concert Review

Winter Jam is Christian music's largest annual tour, with 10 bands for only $10. I have been to Winter Jam many times in the past, but I must say that I have never been as excited about a WJ line up as I was this year! 

 Newsboys + Lecrae + Tenth Avenue North + Thousand Foot Krutch = EPICNESS!!!

The night was kicked off by rapper and Reach Records artist, Derek Minor! Since Derek was the first artist of the night people were still shuffling into the arena. However with all of the people moving and the lights still on, Derek was still able to deliver a great performance, and he just gave the audience a little taste of the rap that was to come later from Lecrae. 

Next up, came Love & The Outcome and Everfound, two of Word Record's newest bands. Love & The Outcome was up first. They are a husband and wife duo, originally from Canada and you could just sense their chemistry as they performed on stage. They were able to captivate the audience and by the end almost everyone was singing along. Then came Everfound, a band made up of four Russian brothers. I really enjoyed their self-titled debut album last year, so I was curious to see what they would be like live. They didn't disappoint, delivering a performance that was a lot of fun and had great energy.

Everfound was the last band in the PreJam party, then it was time for the official start of Winter Jam, with a countdown just to help build anticipation. Colton Dixon kicked off the Official Winter Jam portion of the evening as the lights dimmed down and the mood was set. Prior to attending this concert I was not familiar with Colton Dixon, or his music. However he ended up being one of my favorites of the night. He had rock elements and worship elements, the perfect blend. I absolutely loved it!

Next up was the host of Winter Jam, Newsong. Since Newsong is on the tour every year you could tell that the crowd wasn't as engaged, since they have seen them before. However Newsong had a very solid performance, they even played one of my all time favorite songs, "The Stand" by Hillsong. As an added bonus during Newsong's set they had Michigan native, Jared Emerson painting "The Face Of God" live in front of thousands of people! 

After Newsong, came Plumb. I was also unfamiliar with Plumb's music prior to this concert, but she did a good job. To be completely honest she was probably my least favorite of the night, because I didn't get as drawn in, I was easily distracted by other things. However my friend said that Plumb was the highlight of Winter Jam for her. So I guess it all depends on your musical taste.  

After Plumb the concessions and merch areas were shutdown as speaker Nick Hall took the stage. Nick spoke about how it's not what you have done, but it's what God has done that will save you. He was able to really engage the audience and he told his take on the story of the prodigal son. By weaving humor into his teaching and making the stories relate-able he was able to convey the message of the gospel in a way that was encouraging and inspiring. 

Next was the loudest (and in my opinion most awesome) group of the night Thousand Foot Krutch!! They were the only rock band on the tour this year, and they didn't disappoint. They were only able to play 4 songs, but they packed as much rock into those 4 songs as possible. They played mostly just new songs from their album "The End Is Where We Begin" with the exception of "Fire It Up" from their previous release. The highlight of TFK's set was 2 giant beach balls with the bands logo on them, which were a crowd favorite. 

Then came Tenth Avenue North! I always love seeing Tenth Avenue North in concert because they know how to turn a crowd full of rockers into a crowd full of worshipers, and they did just that. They always seem so real and genuine on stage, it is very easy for me to get drawn into their show. Tenth Avenue North makes music to worship God and to help people who are struggling, and it shows. At one point during the show lead singer Mike Donhey said something like "Michigan you keep reaching out to the band on stage, we can't solve your problems. We mess up just like you. Reach out to God the true healer."  

Next it was time for the Lecrae, who was one of the most cheered for artists of the night, perhaps even beating out Newsboys. Fans young and old stood to there feet as Lecrae took to the stage with his song "Co-Sign Pt. 2," off of his new mixtape Church Clothes 2. Although Lecrae didn't have a terribly long set, he was able to pack a lot of music into it, as well as some speaking where he was really able connect with the crowd and share his heart.

However for me the highlight of Lecrae's set was at the very end. He brought a bunch of fans on stage for a little dance party! The energy was electric and people were jumping and dancing all over the place. Plus I went with a group from my church and my youth pastor and another kid got picked to go onstage with Lecrae. So that was just the icing on the cake! You can watch the video of them dancing like fools HERE. Note: Dancing like fools is only describing their dance moves, not their intellectual intelligence. Carry on...

After Lecrae it was finally time for the headliner of the night, Newsboys!! The crowd cheered and the anticipation builded as the countdown to their set began. They played songs new and old, including the Michigan favorite "Something Beautiful". I have seem Newsboys many times in the past and so it was pretty much the same show as I have seen many times before. However there were a couple really cool features to the Newsboys show, one of which I won't tell you that way you can be surprised if you go. But I will tell you that the spinning drumset did return, no Newsboys set would be complete without Duncan's spinning drumset!

All in all it was a fantastic night packed full of music, with something for everyone. This years line up was the best and strongest that it has been in years! I hope that Winter Jam picks a winning line up like this next year as well! 

Did you go to Winter Jam this year? What did you think? Leave your comments in the section below! 

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