Monday, August 18, 2008

Purple Door

I have to admit, I really didn't know what we were getting into with the Purple Door Festival, but I knew I wanted to be there. It's a Friday night and an all-day Saturday festival of hard rock and hardcore, screaming metal bands. And while there are speakers at the festival, as well, I just didn't sense any kind of solid impact from them - and I'm speaking from a personal experience, but I'll explain that later.
So, anyways, Bob and I left home around 6:00 in the morning. Filled up the gas tank, grabbed some road food and liquid caffine - I had Dew, Bob chose Turners iced tea - and off to the PA Turnpike we went. There was such a heavy fog that we really didn't start to see anything til we started closing in on Breezewood. And that was nearly 8:00. We stopped once at Sidling Hill to use the restrooms and grab more road food and liquid caffine and then completed are journey.
We arrived at Ski Roundtop Resort, where the festival is held, shortly after 9:00. Not bad for a nearly 200 mile trip. We parked and headed down to the festival. Of course, there was only a little bit of apprehension about this. You see, for our trip to Creation our passes to the entire event were Fed Ex-ed to me with a complete schedule of who was working which booths at what times with instructions for our proper attire and behavior, etc. For Purple Door, it was pretty much show up and ask for Randy - the Event Facilitator for the festival. So that's what we did.
The people who were staffing the gate for Purple Door allowed us in so we could find Randy, and pointed us in the general direction of the Compassion booth. So that's where we headed. Of course, being the Event Facilitator means having a great deal of responsibility, so Randy was nowhere to be found. However, Bob and I did get to meet two more advocates from the advocates network and we talked for a few moments before deciding that we could go walk around the grounds and look for Randy.
We checked out both stage areas and the food vendors, as well as the lodge which was hosting the merchandise area for the various performers and ministries which were there. And that's where we found Randy. He had left the booth nearly a half an hour earlier in search of paper towels, and kept getting side tracked. He still didn't have them when Bob and I ran into him. So we let him know we were there and asked if there was anything we could do to help and he just said to go to the booth so he could get our wrist bands for us. We got there before him and when Randy did show up, he finally had paper towels.
We discussed briefly what had been happening so far through the festival. The turnout was somewhere between 8000 - 10,000, which is down from previous years. And the response to Compassion was also down. There had been only 11 sponsorships at this time. And to make things a little less encouraging, the main speaker from Friday night - Bob Lenz, who is a huge supporter of Compassion's ministry - didn't do the Child Packet Pass that he usually does at these festivals. Usually he can tell if a particular audience is going to respond to something like that, but he didn't get that feeling from Friday night's crowd. So he didn't try. And that's OK. We firmly believe that God works things out the way He wants them to. But I also have to say that when I consider the type of crowd - mostly teens - I wouldn't expect a great response anyways.
As we talked I asked Randy what time he needed me to be at the booth for my shift. He informed me that he had me scheduled for the close of the festival, which meant 8:00 PM until the festival was over. And I was cool with that since it freed me and Bob up to hit the mosh pit and check out all of the other stuff going on. But Randy also had a request of me. He wanted to know if I was willing to do a brief 2 or 3 minute presentation for Compassion at the HM Stage at 1:27 in the afternoon, after the lunch break. I figured this would be a great thing since I was expecting to get into the mosh pit and make some new friends and maybe that would be all the influence that some of the kids there would need to sponsor a child. So I agreed. And then off Bob and I went to seek out the mosh pit.
We arrived at the HM Stage - named so for HM Magazine, a magazine dedicated to Christian hardcore rock and metal - in time to hear the beginning riffs of Neocracy.

They're a pretty decent speed metal band with some serious screaming metal vocals.
This, however, was the mosh pit.

It was 4 or 5 kids thrashing and flailing around. Not the kind of pit Bob and I were expecting, nor did we want anything to do with. To me it just seems too much like a fight wanting to happen. And believe me, I was almost one wanting to start it myself.
I watched a few other kids who were slam and push moshing who tried to get into this pit - actually, since there was such a clear ring for anyone who wanted to mosh, the security team made them move to the pit - but the thrashers and flailers literally kicked and punched them until they stopped trying. To me that's just wrong. I was halfway tempted to get into the pit with Bob and just keep putting our shoulders down into any one of the thrashers who left any part of their body open while they thrashed around. You see, I had several inches of reach on any of them, and outweighed any of them by the amount of their own body weight. So I had nothing to fear from them. But I really didn't want to start any trouble. So I didn't. Instead, after Neocracy finished their set, Bob and I headed over to the Main Stage to see what was going on there.
This was the Main Stage.

Not too bad. And the band playing at the time we arrived was Wavorly.

Also not too bad. They had a nice rock feel with a little of keyboard to keep things interesting.
This was the beginning of the mosh pit for the Main Stage.

Dontcha just love Bob's T-shirt? In case you can't make it out, it has a picture of Poppin Fresh (the Pillsbury Doughboy) on it and a caption that says "Love me, squeeze me, take me home". Maybe it makes him seem less intimidating in the pit, because this kid immediately challenged him head to head.

And when Bob just kept tossing him around like a rag-doll, he conspired with his friend to double team Bob.

Of course, Bob has ninja-like reflexes and as soon as he moshed the first one out of the pit, he turned his attention to the other. They had no idea what they were getting themselves into with Bob. But he showed them pretty quick.
After Wavorly finished their set we decided to try the HM Stage again. We caught the tail end of Oh Sleeper (yeah, no myspace page to link to - what's up with that?). I didn't get any pics either. But we did start to run into people we knew, or had met at Creation.
I can't remember his name, but eventually he'll find my myspace page and then I'll have his name again.

But this is one of our buddies from the mosh pit at Creation. It was great to see him again, and I expect to see him again at our next festival (more about that later).

It was kinda funny that we also saw all kinds of "strangers" in the crowd, too. And they don't get much "stranger" than Clone Troopers...

But, anyways, the next band up was Gwen Stacy.

Another screaming hardcore band, but they have a more melodic sound than most of the screamiong metal bands. I enjoyed their set and evn though the mosh pit situation didn't change, there was a lot of headbanging going on in the crowd, and I can get into that.
Now came the predicament. According to the schedule, I was supposed to speak some time after Gwen Stacy, but it was only 11:30. And the lead singer kept telling the crowd to stick around for the next band - who weren't actually going to play until 1:30. So I was a little confused. Fortunately, I had a couple of names as contacts for the stage. So I made my way forward to find out what was going on and ran into my favorite new friends from Creation - my twins, Jess and Maddy.

For those of you who remember from my Creation posts, I have a really huge crush on the twins. And I still don't know which one I have the bigger crush on.
But anyways...
It was really great for me because I barely got to know them at Creation, and suspected that if I saw them here I might get an acknowledging nod - you know the kind that says "Yeah, I remember meeting you." - from them. Instead, as soon as Jess saw me, a big smile came to her face and she waved as she started to walk over to me. And we immediately started to ask how each other was. Then Maddy showed up and gave me a big hug. I nearly melted. Then I presented them with my predicament, and they took me backstage to talk to Big Don.

We found the person I was supposed to be looking for, and he explained that there was a lunch break until 1:30, so I would go on at 1:27 as planned.
I also ran into this guy backstage.

Still Love the hat.
I have to tell you, there is no greater feeling than to be accepted into a group of people that you spent very little time getting to know, but you're welcomed back like a long lost friend. And that was what it felt like to be backstage with the security people here. Since so many of them were also at Creation, they remembered me from the brief time I spent with them there. I was getting hugs from everybody. And it really made me feel good about how much I wanted to get to know these people.
Well, eventually, the lunch break came to an end, and it was nearly time for me to take the stage for my brief presentation. I wasn't really nervous. I've done public speaking before. I occsionally speak at meetings at work. And most of you know that I will substitute for my pastor from time to time. But this was different. I had no preparation, no time to gather any info or facts. All I had to go with was my passion for the ministry of Compassion and a rough idea as to where to start.
This was the crowd that I was about to address.

And more people were filtering in as the time drew closer. But I wasn't nervous.
I was trusting God to put the right words into my mouth. And He did. I spoke about all of the food choices that everybody had at the festival, and reminded everyone that there were children all around the world who were wondering about when they would have their next meal. I spoke to them about how they probably spend more on coffee at Starbucks in a week than it would cost to sponsor a child. I challenged everybody to go to the Compassion booth and look at the Child Packets. And then I walked off the stage.
That's when I started to shake. But my new friends were there to help me calm down. And that's when I took this pic of the guys from Inhale/Exhale praying before they started to play.

And then they started to rock the crowd.

They also instigated the mosh pit. The lead vocalist had the crowd part down the middle, from where he was standing, and then, on the count of three, he wanted both sides to charge into each other. This is what it looked like.

And when things got back to some kind of normal, the vocalist dived into the crowd.

This was an excellent show. I loved seeing them here, and can't wait to see them again.
Next up was a band called The Showdown.

Southern speed screaming metal. Very cool.

I think this pic shows the "southern" part quite effectively.

I also couldn't resist this shot.

Talk about a multi-generational crowd.
It was at this point, after The Showdown finished, that I decided that I needed some food. I had been hanging out backstage and with the security team and never stopped to eat, so I was pretty hungry. I heaed over to the food vendors and grabbed some chicken fingers and waffle cut fries and washed it down with more Dew. I knew I was going to need the caffine later.
By the time I had finished eating I had missed most of Haste The Day. I caught the last song of their set, but didn't get any pics.
The last band to play the HM Stage for the festival was August Burns Red.

I'm sure you can tell that it was pretty dusty at the Purple Door. From all of the moshing and movement in general, I'm sure that everybody had to have inhaled or ingested several pounds of dust over the course of the entire day.
This is all I have in the way of pictures. There wasn't anything going on at the Main Stage, so I wandered about the festival checking out the vendors and merchandise. And that's when I ran into a couple of kids who really wanted to talk to me.
They were pretty close to the stage when I did my presentation for Compassion. So they got a good look at my shoulder and wanted to know about my branding. So I talked to them about it, told them about Z Spot and my artiste, Z. They were interested and wanted to know how they might get one, but they had a problem since they live in York, PA. So I gave them my blog address and told them to check out the videos. I told them that if they still wanted to get a branding, they could find the contact info for Z at the end of the video. And I told them that if they wanted to get branded still, that they could find my e-mail address in my profile and if they sent me an e-mail to tell me when they would be doing it, I would come to watch them get their brandings.
After a while of wandering about I headed to the Compassion booth to rest and do my shift. There wasn't much activity. So it left time for me to talk to the other advocates. Eventually Randy came back to the booth and he and I waited out the rest of the evening with only a few people stopping by from time to time. But Randy had a presentation to do at the Main Stage right after the speaker. So he did his thing and shared the information from one of the Child Packets with the crowd. he mentioned that the average monthly income for the childs family was $5. Can you imagine living on only $5 a month? Can you imagine the impact that $32 could make for a family like that. A very impressive point.
After Randy came back to the booth he made another request of me. He had forgotten that we needed to make one more presentation that evening from the Main Stage, and he wanted to know if I felt comfortable giving it. I almost hesitated, but I couldn't help but feel that this was one of those things that God has been preparing me for. So I said I could. Of course, I didn't realize that it was going to be between headliners. I was going to be following Disciple and preceeding Emery, both of whom are pretty big names in Christian rock. But, again, I wasn't nervous, I just wanted to be sure I didn't fumble over any of my words. But more than that, I wanted to know that the Holy Spirit would give me the right words to say.
So, when Disciple took the stage, Randy handed me a backstage pass so I could go talk to the people that I needed to talk to and get ready. I waited impatiently, but got to enjoy the show from backstage. Very cool.
Then my time came. The MC had asked my name prior to us going on, then he asked again to make sure. He told me that he was just going to introduce me and then hand the mic to me. And when we got on stage that's exactly what happened.
Believe it or not, I remember most of what I said, even though I really didn't give much thought to it. I simply walked up to the front of the stage and said;
"Doesn't Disciple rock?!"
The crowd screamed and applauded.
"Speaking of disciples, how many of you consider yourselves to be disciples of Jesus Christ?"
Again, the crowd screamed and applauded.
"I'm so glad you answered that way, because I'm going to give you all a chance to put your faith into action."
I held up the Child Packet that I was carrying with me as I began to walk back and forth on the stage.
"What I have here is a Child Packet from Compassion International, and we have a lot more on our tables in the back."
"You know, Jesus taught us that we are to care for the poor, the needy, the oppressed, the very least among us. And in any given society, the children are always the very least, and always the ones who suffer most. But this is your chance to change that. You can sponsor a child."
"For $32 a month you can help to meet the needs of a child and give them opportunities that they could never imagine otherwise. Go back and look at the Child Packets we have. Whether you go now, before Emery comes on, or after doesn't matter. Just go, look into the eyes of these little ones, and see their need."
"This is your chance to truly help the poor and the needy. This is your chance to show that you really are a disciple to your Master. $32 a month really isn't a lot when you consider the way you're going to change the world for one child. And it will change the world for you by knowing that you've done your part to help."
With that I handed the mic back to the MC and walked off the stage. And as I walked off the stage I walked right into the lead singer for Disciple. Our eyes met and I just stuck out my hand and said "Excellent show. I love you guys."
He shook my hand and pulled me in for a hug and said "Thanks, man, I appreciate that." and then I walked back to the security area where all my new friends were hanging around between sets. That's when I started to shake again. I had a moment to think about what I had just done - speaking in front of nearly 10,000 people.
One of the guys asked me if I was OK. I told him I'd be fine now that it was done. And he asked what was done. So I told him that I had just given my presentation for Compassion. He asked me "Was that you?" I just nodded, and he said "I heard somebody talking about it, but I didn't know it was you. That was great, You really did good." But I was still kinda shaking. Jess was there and she just patted me on the shoulder, but then Maddy came over and told me she heard it and we started to talk about our Compassion children, and that's when I found my calm again.

Did I metion that I have a huge crush on the twins?

But after I was ready I left the backstage area to go back to the booth. There still wasn't much happening, but that's OK. It's all a part of God's plan.
Bob had been at the booth for awhile and he heard my presentation and told me I did good. Meanwhile, Randy had gotten most of everything from the display put away. It was now just a matter of leaving the Child Packets out until the end. And once it was over those were cleared up in a matter of minutes. We ended up with 20 sponsorshipd for the fetsival. It's not a great number, but it's 20 more than we would've had if we hadn't been here.
When we were done Randy told us to go ahead since we had the long ride ahead of us. Everything was pretty much taken care of by now, so we said our goodbyes and got ready to go.
I did, however, go back to the backstage area to say my last godbyes to Big Don and anyone else I could find. Of course, Big Don had to tell me about one last festival this year, The Vertical Festival and he still wants me to help with security. So I told him I'd talk to Randy about it, but I didn't want to bother him with it right now.
Bob and I headed out for home sometime after 11:30. We stopped at Sidling Hill to grab a bite to eat and then hit the road again. We had to stop somewhere between Bedford and Ligonier because I was just not staying awake, and Bob wasn't either. So I took about a 45 minute nap and then finished our ride home.
It was a little easier to say goodbye to everyone this time. In a sense, knowing that I'll see them again in another month or so makes it easier. But how much will I miss them when I know that it's going to be another 9 months before Creation 09?

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Blogger Jeff A said...

Sounds like fun. I love Disciple. Have seen them in a small venue so it was cool to get to meet them. Kevin was sick but still managed to put on an awesome show.

8:05 AM  
Blogger M+ said...

It was a lot of fun.
Disciple puts on a great show. But Inhale/Exhale was the most fun. The Wall of Death was a great thing to witness.

6:27 PM  

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