Thursday, November 06, 2008

Creation Festival: The Tour

Our adventure began at about 1:00 at the Starbucks in the Miracle Mile Shopping Center. P.Dave and I met there before heading out to Creation Festival: The Tour. Of course, P.Dave had to get something while we were there, but I'm not much of a coffee drinker, so I refrained.
The ride was pretty much a straight shot out on Route 22, and I have to say it wasn't too bad. Typically, there is some section - and usually a quite LARGE section - of Route 22 that is under construction. And, while this was still true, the traffic delays were nearly non-existent. This was my first sign that God really wanted this to be a glorious adventure.
At one point, and I have no idea what town we were in when we stopped, but I needed food. So we pulled in to a Burger King where I feasted on a double Whopper, fries and a coke. P.Dave had already had lunch since he had been with JT earlier while JT did his follow up visits to all of his doctors from his little episode in the hospital. So P.Dave only had the Hershey's Sundae Pie. Then we procceeded to the show.
We arrived at our destination, Oasis of Love Church, a bit early. Our scheduled start time was 5:00, but we showed up at 3:43. And I have to say it was probably a good thing. When we walked in the church people who were hosting the Tour were still setting things up. They knew Compassion was going to be there, but they didn't know who was in charge. They also knew they had a table for us, but weren't sure where we were going to be located. So after finding a few people who knew a little bit more, a young man told us about the containers labeled "Compassion International" that were on the side of the "Gymnatorium", with a great deal of other equipment that the roadies were still moving in and out of the building. We were also directed to our table. This was my second sign from God that this was going to be a glorious adventure.
For those of you who aren't aware, a Gymnatorium is a large building that is designed to serve as a multi-purpose event hall. It can host a sporting even, a dinner/catered affair, or a concert. Quite beneficial for any church that has one, since that's where the concert was being held tonight.
It was a really interesting set-up. The four main bands, Fireflight, Pillar, Thousand Foot Krutch and Kutless, were all out in the lobby area of the Gymnatorium, while all of the other performers, Capital Lights, Esterlyn, KJ-52, Run Kid Run, Worth Dying For, and even the speaker, Bob Lenz were all inside the Gymnatorium around the outer edges. Our table was right next to KJ-52's, and in front of the speaker stacks. And that meant we'd be able to see the entire event from what was practically a front row seat. Yeah, that would be my third sign from God that this was going to be a glorious adventure
P.Dave and I decided that the best use of our unscheduled time would be to bring in the Compassion materials and start setting up the display. Which was absolutely hilarious since I had an e-mail that I was supposed to send to P.Dave that had a link for a brief training video for first time volunteers. I didn't send it because I had a similar e-mail for JT a few weeks ago for the concert we attended, and while I sent it to JT, it didn't really apply. Much of it dealt with setting up or breaking down the display area, and even filling out the forms. And since this had never happened to me before I figured it wouldn't happen to us this time either. I was wrong. It would've applied to our situation. But it all worked out since I was there and I already had some experience with these things, so P.Dave wouldn't have had to deal with all by himself anyways.
Now, KJ-52 (KJ-five,two not KJ-fifty-two), who is actually the MC for the Tour, and is a white Christian rapper, asked us what we were doing and asked if we had talked to George about setting up. We explained that we were volunteers. We also told him that we didn't know who was actually in charge, and that I was assuming it would be Randy - who's been the co-ordinator for previous events - but that I had done this before and figured it would be the right thing to do. He was cool with that, but we found out later why he was concerned. George actually showed up shortly afterwards and introduced himself. He's also a part of the Tour, and is part of KJ's show. So KJ was worried that something had happened to George and he wasn't going to make the show tonight. A legitimate concern. But once George arrived, we all felt some relief.
George is a wirey young black man - and without this sounding stereotypical or disrespectful - I suppose he gives some credibility to KJ-52's show. But anyways, he asked us a few questions about ourselves, and whether we'd worked an event like this before. Of course, P.Dave had never done anything like this before, but I explained how I pretty much spent my entire summer working events like this. The look of excitement that came to George's face was astounding. "Good! I'm putting you in charge then." was his enthusiastic response.
Shortly after we finished setting up the display our other volunteers began to show up. It was really great that I knew two of them from Creation. Tara and Chris had both been sponsor volunteers there. Actually, Tara was in training to become an advocate, and Chris had just sponsored her first child there. Kieran, who is a grad student at Penn State, had come with them. To be honest, P.Dave and I are quite impressed with the three of them. Keiran and Chris are both still students at Penn State, and Tara had just completed her licensing as a massage therapist, and yet they are sponsors. That's amazing since it took both of us as long as it did to become sponsors. It's very humbling. But as I explain to people all the time, the reason why I am so willing to do so many events is because I'm trying to make up for lost time.
Next to show up was Heather. She had to bring her kids with her, but it was cool because they were a lot of fun - especially her daughter, but I'll share more about that later. Then came Kieth. Keith had recently been to the Dominican Republic for Compassion's International Advocates Conference. He shared a lot of great stories about the trip and even brought out his laptop to share his pictures with us. It was moving and inspiring, and I think, just perfect for getting us all in the spirit of why we were there.
Prior to the start of things, my friend Big Don came over to the table to let me know he was there. It was great to see him again, and yes, he was working security for the show. George also came back over to explain to us the general time-table for things and tell us that there would be a packet-pass tonight. He went over some brief directions and then left it all in my capable hands.
Now, just so you all know, I do have a few pics from the evening, but very few from the actual show since the lighting wasn't very good for my camera. But I think you'll be able to enjoy the ones I do have.
Everything began with a pre-Tour show. Two bands that weren't actually part of the tour, but are getting some exposure with it. First up on the stage was Capital Lights. I liked their sound. Very lively and they put on a good show for the 5 songs they got to play. The same was true of the second act, Esterlynn. P.Dave had seen them with JT a few months earlier on Kutless' acoustic tour. So he knew what to expect. I enjoyed it too.
Then the show began. Run Kid Run was on first. P.Dave made sure to tell me how much he felt they had improved since we first saw them, two years ago. And that's when I told him that JT had felt the same way after seeing them at Vertical Fest.
KJ-52 did his thing with George after Run Kid Run. It was actually a lot of fun. I was especially pleased with their Stuck In The 80's bit. A mix of song samples from very popular 80's music with their own lyrics interspersed.
Fireflight came on next. This is now the third time I've seen them this year, and I love them even more each time - though I will say their performance at Vertical Fest was their best. P.Dave also loves these guys - and gals - and even picked up an autographed poster for his daughter. Later he would explain to me that Charisa (his daughter) really likes the harder-edged stuff. I teased him about letting her jump into the mosh pit with me someday. Of course, I promised that I'd watch out for her while she's in there. I think P.Dave is still trying to process that idea...
Next up was Worth Dying For. They're a hardcore worship-rock band with a really good alternative edge. They set the mood for the main speaker of the evening. I picked up their CD early in the evening, and it's a good thing I did, because they sold out pretty quick.
It was time for the speaker to come on next, and I motioned for the other advocates and volunteers to get ready for the packet-pass. Bob Lenz shared a really great message about Heaven being better than money, food, getting drunk and sex. And he did it with a great mix of humor and seriousness. I realy respect this man for his ability to hit home with young people. When he finished speaking over a dozen young people raised their hands to either accept Christ, or renew their commitment to Him. After this Worth Dying For came on a gain for just one song to give these kids a chance to talk and pray with someone. Then Bob got up to speak again about Compassion and to encourage everyone to sponsor a child.
The packet pass began and the response was better than I expected it to be. We had all spread out through the crowd and were passing out our packets to quite a few people. I started to get to the front of the stage and Bob was looking into the crowd when he saw that a few kids in the front were looking around to see if anyone was coming their way. So he pointed for them and said "Alright, there's a big guy with a really cool mohawk passing them out right over there." So they turned to see me and I handed them each a packet. I gave away 10, and even had to get a couple more from P.Dave. I think that we passed out more than 30 packets. Not bad for a crowd of about 700.
When we finished the packet-pass there was a brief intermission. We all gathered back at the table to help people fill out their forms and answer questions for them. It was great.
When the intermission ended Pillar came out rockin'! This is also the third time I've seen them this year. And I love them more each time, too. It was P.Dave's first time seeing them, and he really liked it a lot. And, since the rush to at the table was over and the crowd was now refocused on the stage, I stepped out into the crowd to enjoy the concert. There was no mosh pit, so I just stayed out of everybody's way as I was bangin' my head. If I'm not mistaken, there was somebody there that took a brief video clip of that.
Next up, and here's where the pics begin, Thousand Foot Krutch.

They're not the greatest pics, but there OK. I really liked these guys. I missed them at Creation because I was too busy moshing at the fringe stage while they were on the main stage. And while I'm not saying I regret that decision, I think I'll make a point to see their show if they're at Creation next year. I picked up one of their CDs and I'm currently listening to it. Very good.
Kutless came out to wrap things up. Another one of those high energy bands. I always enjoy them, but this is only the second time I've seen them this year - but the year's not over yet...
Got a couple of pics that look alright if you click to enlarge them.

Things ened with a single encore by Kutless then we waited for most of the crowd to filter out before putting everything away.
As the crowd filtered out Bob Lenz came over to us to thank all of us for our commitment to Compassion - and because he had to meet the guy with the really cool mohawk...
Which worked out great for me since I wanted to get my picture with him. But I made sure to tell him that I had something even more cool than the mohawk. I rolled up my sleeve to show him my ink-n-fire. He loved it, but winced at the thought of a branding.

We talked for a few minutes and I explained to him how my son was impacted by some of the things he had said at Creation. He appreciated knowing that, as we all appreciate knowing when we're having an impact in someone's life. He asked me about my involvement with Compassion and I explained my story to him and told him about the festivals I'd done this year. When I mentioned Vertical Fest he looked at me puzzled. Then Big Don stepped up and told Bob who he could talk to about being invited to next year's.
After things were well under control I approached Worth Dying For to get their autographs on the CD cover. I also asked if I could get my picture taken with them. They joked about me having to pay for that, and their drummer said I would have to shave my head. I told him I already did - at least on the sides.
As P.Dave was preparing to take the picture I started to roll up my sleeve - since I've determined that I want to make sure that any pictures I have taken at these events include my ink-n-fire, they saw it and were imediately impressed and frightened by it.

Afterwards, Christy, their vocalist, asked how I had the cross put on there. So I told her. I think I scared her. Then I showed them my other shoulder and they all agreed that I must be hardcore to have those marks on my body. I can never deny my faith because of them.
Now for the cute little story that I don't usually get to include. I mentioned our one volunteer arriving with her kids. Well, Big Don had to get his picture taken with one of them. So Here it is.

But I'm sure you're wondering about the cute story now. It seems that this little girl managed to get guitar picks from all of the bands - all of the bands!
She was playing the cute card all night long. She just squeezed her way up to the front of the stage and did some kind of jedi-mind trick to get the guitarists to just hand her their picks. P.Dave recommended that she get a T-shirt that says "Pick Magnet".
Thins were well wrappewd up now. George thanked all of us, we all hugged one another and said our good-byes, but Big Don had one last request of me. He asked if P.Dave and I could help out breaking down the stage. Well, I didn't have any plans for today, except to sleep in and write this post, and P.Dave didn't oppose the idea, so we stuck around to help out.
Now, just as we were approaching the stage to help out, Noah, the lead guitarist from Pillar, saw me and immediately came over to talk to me. It is sooooo cool when one of the members of a band that you really like remembers you and initiates a conversation. I asked him how he was doing, and remembered that he mentioned his wife being from Altoona so I asked how the family was. He was glad that he had the chance to visit them while he was in town. He asked me about how things were going with Compassion and how many kids we had sponsored tonight. And since I was pretty much in charge of the event report I knew we had 19. We ended the conversation as P.Dave and I decided that we should actually let the stage crew know we were available to help.
We did a good job and had a lot of great direction for the guys who were running the show. Had it all pretty much torn-down and packed in various crates and boxes in about an hour. At which time we decided that we should leave since we stil had two hours of road time to get through.
Made one stop at Sheetz along the ride home so we could graba a bite to eat. I had a roast beef pretzel melt with fries and Mountain Dew. It was delicious, and just what I needed to get me throught the rest of the ride.
It was a truly glorious adventure and I am so glad I got to share it with my pastor. It was energizing and enjoyable and we bonded in a way that he and I haven't done in awhile. And that's a great thing since we're about to start playing out in our band pretty soon. I also believe many lives were changed at this event. and That's always great thing.

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Blogger Jeff A said...

Thats all well and good, but what is a roast beef pretzel melt?

3:42 PM  
Blogger M+ said...

Around these parts we have a gas station/convienience store chain called Sheetz. In addition to the typical fare of most convienience store chains, Sheetz also offers a wide variety of Made To Order (MTO) menu items - sandwiches, sides and appetizer type foods. Among those sandwich type foods are the "meltz". One of the kinds of "meltz" are sandwiches' that are prepared on a "bun" made of soft-pretzel sour-dough. Very tasty!
Ya know what? You really need to make a visit to PA someday, soon! Because you really need to experience some of our local cuisine. Not the least of which being Vincent's Pizza. Or an even better sandwich place than Sheetz; Primanti Brother's.

8:21 AM  

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