Monday, September 22, 2008

Vertical Fest

I just want to let everyone know that you are really going to love this post. Trust me, you'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll experience a wide range of emotions. Enjoy reading and perusing the pics.

OK, let me start at the beginning. And why wouldn't I, since that's usually the best place to start? But I'm actually going to have to start with something that happened even earlier this summer that was a catalyst for some of what you're about to experience through this post.
Something that I failed to mention in my posts about Creation 08 was a minor thing at the time, that would eventually have a greater impact. There were a few kids running around the festival wearing masks. In fact, there was one kid in particular that was wearing a Batman T-shirt and a Batman mask. This caught Rob's attention and started him thinking.
Now, perhaps you remember my post about Purple Door. In that post there was a picture of some kid wearing a Clone Trooper helmet. Well, he was not the only one, his was the only picture I posted though. There were, however, several others also wearing these helmets, and there were also a few kids wearing masks of other sorts as well. These things inspired Rob to do something rather unique, and radically different.
And now for the final piece of background story. A few weeks back, I mentioned in one of my posts about a package arriving for Rob that he was excited to get. But I never said what was in that package because I wanted to wait until the perfect time to reveal it. Well, that time has come.
You see, Rob's inspiration was to not just wear a mask, or even a mask and a T-shirt, to one of these festivals, Rob wanted to wear the whole Batman costume. Just to see what would happen. So that's what was in the package, Rob's Batman costume.
Now, on with the tale of our festivities...
We started out the day by stopping to pick up Rob's friend, Matt. And of course they had to pose for a moment.

And Rob had to do something dramatic, just for fun.

To the Bat mobile!

OK, we headed off to pick up JT from Matt's. Now, perhaps some of you have noticed that I no longer link to JT's blog when I link to him. Instead, I've begun to link to his actual web page, the home of JT's Indie Christian Music Podcast. And I don't say his podcast either, since it has become so much more. I do hope you'll take the time to check it out because he has really poured his heart and soul into making it more than just a weekly podcast. And after this festival, he's been able to make contacts and connections that will help him to do even more, and better. But that story will be told throughout this post.
Before I get any further along, I have to say this; I was not going to this festival in my capacity as an advocate for Compassion International. That's a first for this summer! I had volunteered for it, but Compassion wasn't sure they were going to be at this festival until a few days before. So my Event Coordinator, Randy, didn't think about contacting me for this on such short notice. But that's OK, because I still managed to spend a little time helping Randy out as needed. And it also freed me up to do other things, which will come up later.
It was a decent two and half hour ride to get to the Shippensburg Fairgrounds, where the festival is held. We showed up right at noon, when it was all scheduled to get started. This was what we saw when we approached the gates.

Small crowd to start with, but it would grow as the day went on. But I gotta tell ya, the fact that it's a smaller festival is actually a great thing. Because of the size, all of the bands actually make appearances at their own merch tables. So anyone who wants the opportunity to see, talk to, or get autographs could do so. And, believe it or not, all of the bands appreciate the chance to see, meet and talk to their fans.
This was the Graffiti Wall.

And this was Rob making his presence known.

And beleive me, Rob's presence was made well known throughout the day. More on that later.
The first band up was Ryan Payne Band.

They had a decent pop-rock sound. When they finished their set, JT made sure to find them in the Merch Area to talk to them about playing their music on his podcast, and possibly setting up an e-mail interview. And since they're a local band hoping to get some exposure, they were happy to oblige.

Yes, people, JT was pimpin' his podcast, hardcore !!!

And who can blame him. This was his chance to meet, talk to and make connections with some new bands that fit his "indie" format. And he made the most of it. But he also set out with the goal of getting as many posters and autographs from as many bands as possible. He also got his picture taken with most of them, too.
You see, JT has a wall in his studio that is dedicated to the posters that he's had signed by the bands he's been able to meet. So, obviously, he wants to get more for the wall, to make his studio even more music-oriented. I think it's a fantastic idea. I also have to admit something here. As much as I was glad to be at this festival, I was much happier that I could get JT to come along. I knew this would be a great opportunity for him and his podcast. Especially now as it's beginning to really take off. Especially now that it's shaping up into a ministry for both his listeners and the artists he promotes. And I'm proud to be able to serve his ministry in this way, to just bring him along so he could do his thing - which he does much better than I do, even though I do try to pimp his podcast as often as possible. I really did take a back seat to everything he was doing there. And since I wasn't offically there in my capacity as an advocate for Compassion, I was glad to have his ministry as the focus of our festivities.
We spent a little time in the Merch Area checking things out. Ran into this guy again.

He said that he's thinking it's time to retire the hat. It was looking kinda beat up. But he's expecting to find something new and different before the next festival season.
Once again, it was good to see the familiar faces of the people I'd met earlier this summer at the other festivals. Some of them you will see in other pics. I will say that I was somewhat disappointed that I didn't see the twins here. Oh well, there's always Creation 09.
Anyways, we headed back outside to check out the next band up. Me In Motion was their name.

Another decent sounding pop-rock band. And JT also talked to them. There was slight misunderstanding between JT and the bands bassist. JT typicall introduces himself as JT, but this time he called himself by what JT stands for - JustTerry. The bassist didn't hear him quite right, so when he autographed JT's poster, it said to "Just Harry" - oh, well...
The next band to take the stage was Seabird.

A little bit harder than the previous bands. Still a pop-rock sound, but with a slightly alternative edge to it.
It was around this point that we discovered something truly amazing; Rob, aka, Batman, had a posse.

Believe it or not, these kids had been following Rob and Matt around since they ran into them - less than a half-hour after we arrived - and it was now close to 2:00. Batman was huge hit! Rob was an instant celebrity. There were people walking up to him all day long asking to get pictures of him, or with him. He was in his glory. And I say that because he informed me this weekend that he has joined the Drama Club at his high school, and he will be performing in an upcoming play. How cool is that ?!?
So we wandered around some more and caught the next band on stage, whom we've seen before; Run Kid Run.

JT admitted that he had become bored with their music, since they only have on CD out, but hearing them live again made it sound fresh to him. I beleive he may have contacted them to see about playing their music on the podcast. I don't really know for sure since there were so many bands, and he was talking to pretty much all of them. In fact, at one point, we were talking to the lead guitarist for Fireflight, and JT was asking about getting an e-mail interview with them for the page. And their guitarist seemed pretty enthusiastic about it. So JT now has contact info for their manager so they can set things up.
Back outside for more music. Nevertheless was up next.

I liked these guys. Harder alternative sound than any of the bands before them. It was a good thing. Because you all know that I like the harder stuff.
Speaking of which, following Nevertheless was a band I was really geeked about seeing. Children 18:3 became one of my favorites at Creation. Now I got to see them again and get even more pics to go with the others I got at Creation.

Yeah, there are a lot more pics of these guys than the other bands because it was such an awesome live show. I really love this band!
I will also point out that this was when the mosh pit started.

You can see that Batman is right in the middle of it. You may also remember Big Don (in the red shirt) from Creation and Purple Door. He was in charge of Security here too. Asked me again if I wanted to help, but I told him I was a paying customer today. He was cool with that.
Of course, as things got more intense in the pit, Rob and Matt really got into it.

We were all having a blast. Meanwhile, Children 18:3 played on, and kept the excitement going.

I will tell you all right now, if you ever have the chance to see Children 18:3 live, GO! You will not be disappointed. However, the festival was already starting to fall behind, so they had to cut their set short. Bummer!
Another thing that was really great happened after Children 18:3. The MC was giving away free stuff between band sets, and during this break he saw Batman in the crowd and immediately made a big deal about it. He had Rob come up and get a free T-shirt just for being there. And that's when Batman became the talk of the festival.

As I mentioned before, and in my other festival posts, I've gotten to know several of the people who usually work Security for the stage. As I would run into them throughout the day I would get to talk to them. And invariably the topic of "Hey! Have you seen Batman, here?" I'd just laugh and tell them who it was. And they'd get a big kick out of it, and tell me that everybody is talking about him and they all think it's really cool.
So now, as proud as Rob was of me, and how cool he thought I was for being in the mosh pit at Creation and Purple Door, I have to say I'm pretty proud of him for having the courage and foresight to do the Batman thing here. Eevrybody loved him and wanted to get their picture taken with him. But I want to pay some special attention to that later.
JT and I headed back into the Merch Area to talk to more people. Now, I must confess, we met a couple of ladies who've recently started their own clothing business. They're a mother and daughter team, and we really enjoyed talking to them. And they enjoyed talking to JT and I. However, I never got a picture of them, and I'm really bummed about that because I would really like to pimp there stuff here. But their web site doesn't go live until sometime in October. Oh well.
It was also at this point that JT achieved his greatest victory of the day. Up to this point, JT has been struggling to get any recognition or support from some of the larger indie Christian labels. It's understandable since they can't afford to give away free music to all of the small, independent podcasters, music bloggers and music e-magazines that exist. But he did manage to get one of them, Tooth and Nail, to agree to let him use music from any of their artists as long as he has the artist's permission. The unfortunate side of that is that none of the artists ever return JT's inquiries, until today.
JT approached Children 18:3 at their merch table to get their autographs, and to get his picture taken with them, and while he was there he asked if he could have their permission to play some of their songs on his podcast. He was expecting some kind of reluctance or even a possible refusal. Instead, he discovered that Dave, the guitarist/vocalist was pretty cool about the idea and gave JT permission. So now JT finally has a Tooth and Nail artists that he can play on his podcast. And I think that's really cool. It'll be even better if he can also score the e-mail interview, too.
Oh, I also got my pic taken with them.

From what I can tell, they have a "standard pose" for everyone. LeeMarie makes her eyes real wide and kinda pouts a little. Dave also goes wided-eyed but he purses his lips into a smirk. Seth just kinda tilts his head back or to the one side and squints a little. It's all pretty cool to watch them do it.
Of course, Batman and The Joker had to get their pics taken, too.

Yeah, that's right, The Joker.
It would seem that there was a face-painting stand set up somewhere for the children's tent, and once the children's activities were done they started to paint the faces of anyone who wanted it. So Matt had his face painted to look as much like The Joker as possible. Of course, he could've used a purple suit.
Then we met with the main speaker for the evening. His name was Justin Lookado.

He's a bit of a nutcase, which is cool because so are we. He was impressed by my Ink-n-Fire. He was also one of the speakers at Creation, and one who had an impact on Rob while we were there. I told him this prior to Rob coming around and explained how incredible it is to have your 17 year old son tell you that the messages have been hitting home. Justin was impressed by that, too. I also told him that if he saw Batman, that would be my son. Justin thought that was so cool, and couldn't wait to see him.
Well, sure enough, less than 5 minutes, later Batman shows up. Rob also began to explain to Justin hwo the messages at Creation had impacted him and Justin was glad to hear that. He also insisted on a really great pose.

This was hilarious and a lot of other people decided that they had to get this shot, too. So don't be surprised if you stumble across it somewhere else someday.
After this one Rob decided that he wanted to pose with Randy, our Event Coordinator for Compassion.

At first, Randy had no idea why Batman wanted to pose with him, or even how he knew his name was Randy. So I told him who it was, and that made Randy chuckle a bit since he seems to like Rob from the other events we've done together. But Rob had told Randy that he has a lot of respect for him and that was why he wanted to pose with him.
I suspect that by now most of you have noticed some discoloration on the Batman costume. Those splotches of greenish-yellow are from the paintballs that Batman got hit with. There was paintball available there for a few extra bucks, and you'd better believe that Rob and Matt were gonna do that. Both of them testified to me that Batman was a lethal one-man army - just like in the comic book. But apparently not as swift as the Batman of the comic books who never gets hit with a bullet...
By this time it was drawing into the evening. There was one last band before the speaker. They were The Glorious Unseen.

These guys were good as an alternative worship band. I really liked their sound. It set the stage for Justin to share his message.

He spoke about two things. "Do you love people?" and "Is it holy?". He broke down the truth of Christianity with these two thoughts. Are we doing anything to demonstrate our love to people. Are we doing anything that requires sacrifice on our part for someone else's sake. He made a point to tell everyone that if we're only volunteering our time to a homeless shelter, or a soup kitchen, during the holidays, we're only doing it to make ourselves feel better. If we want it to be out of love and for God, do it every week except during the holidays. He also took to task the people that picket outside of abortion clinics and told them if they really wanted to love the women that are having abortions they'd be at the backdoor when those women came out, to be there to help them when it was over, when they need someone to love them the most.
As for "Is it holy?". He explained that he gets hundreds of e-mails each week from teenagers asking him if something is right or wrong. He doesn't answer the question, he always asks them "Is it holy". He reminded everyone that God isn't concerned with right or wrong, because He calls us to be holy, as He is Holy. And that means sometimes doing something that isn't easy in order to stand up for something or stand out from everyone else. Which may be why he was so impressed with Rob having the guts to run around the festival dressed like Batman. That stands out!
After he gave his message he directed anyone who wanted prayer to go to the tent where the children's activities had been happening most of the day. It wasn't your typical "altar call". It wasn't about getting anyone "saved" it was about being committed enough to pray with someone, and to confess to them what you're struggling with. No half way. And there were a lot of kids who wanted that.
After Justin had finished, it was time for the headliners. Fireflight was up first.
Unfortunately, it was too dark for my camera to get any decent shots. So you'll just have to trust me when I say it was a great show. Or you could go see the pics I have posted from Creation.
Fireflight was followed by Red. Another awesome live show which I did not get any pics of. These guys play an incredible set with a lot of energy. And there was great mosh pit going on the whole time. Yes, Batman was in the mosh pit again. After their set I headed up to the Merch Area just because it was starting to get colld outside. Also because I was hoping to catch Fireflight before they finished signing autographs and taking pics with everyone. But I was too late. I would just have to be satisfied with Red when they showed up. And I was.

They're also a great bunch of guys. They loved my Punisher T-shirt. In fact, their guitarist (on my left, your right) had one on while he was on stage. And they all admired my Ink-n-Fire.

Meanwhile, Family Force 5 was on stage. And it was already pretty late - about 11:00 PM. It's a high energy show. They move like mad the entire time. It's a strange mix of rock, techno and dance music. I find it to be disturbing, but everyone else seemed to like it.
By the time they finished their set I was helping Randy get the last of the Compassion materials put away. By the time the arrived back at the Merch Area (about midnight) to sign autographs, we were all ready to leave. So we said our farewells and off we went on our two and half hour ride home.
Can't wait til next year!

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Blogger One Wink at a Time said...

Wowser! This sounds like a perfectly awesome day. And if you're like me, it will stick with you for a long time after. The energy, the good feelings and connecting, that's what it's all about for me. (Even though I don't need a mosh pit *wink*) Glad you had such a great time and your coverage of the event is impressive!

Holy Batman!

5:55 PM  
Blogger Jeff A said...

Sweet. I only have one festival around here to look forward to, at least it is the only one I have heard about so far. It's called "Taking Back Halloween" it's in October, the 12th I thing. Anyway, a very good friend who used to play bass in my band and now plays in a band called "Suffer the King", really good stuff. I can't wait cause I am taking my camera and I am going to give it a work out!

12:20 AM  
Blogger M+ said...

It was a perfectly awesome day! I'm still riding the high from it. And I'm always so glad to share it with all of yinz.
One of these days I'm gonna hafta convince everyone to spend a day at one of these festivals with me.
I'm sorry to hear you don't have any decent festivals nearby. I hope the one you get to go to turns out well. And I'll be looking forward to the pics.

9:49 PM  
Anonymous faith said...

That sounds like a great time, but one sentence in there got me:

He also took to task the people that picket outside of abortion clinics and told them if they really wanted to love the women that are having abortions they'd be at the backdoor when those women came out, to be there to help them when it was over, when they need someone to love them the most.

I think more people should hear that and read it because it's so true! We need more caring and compassion in the world, not more judging. I was touched and happy to read that, don't know why it got to me like it did, but it did. Thank you to people like him!

10:43 AM  
Blogger M+ said...

That has pretty much been my take on things all along. I've never liked the idea of picketing and screaming at the women who are going into abortion clinics. That's not showing anyone the love of Christ.
Mind you, I hate abortion, and I believe it's murder. I think that as a form of retro-active, birth-control it is a horrible reflection of the value that our society places on human life. But I won't judge anyone who has made that choice. My position has always been to appeal to the heart, help people to change from the inside, help God to change them from the inside. But that won't happen if our best approach is to yell and scream at them. If we aren't willing to help when it counts, then we need to shut-up.

Incidentally, crisis pregnancy centers - the ones where the women are given a place to stay while they're pregnant, and helped to get an education, job, etc... currently outnumber abortion clinics by nearly 3 to 1. I'd say that's a step in the right direction.

5:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

this is Batman:
aka. rob cross

my father is a man of honor. And i respect the hell out of him, because he is the one who made me who i am today. without his help i wouldn't be the outgoing, courage's, and motivated person i am today. I wish everyone could have the privilege of knowing what a great man he really is. As i grow he is there beside me to make sure i am on the right track, and he would do the same for anyone at anytime.

my father

By: rob cross

10:12 PM  

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