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    Bit to Do

    Skillet headlines Winter Jam 2015.
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    You very well could be a die-hard Christian music fan since the era of Michael W. Smith back in the 80s.  (Secret Ambition, anyone?)  You also could be one who doesn’t particularly care for the genre.  Regardless of your preference, you can not deny that last weekend's Winter Jam was one giant party with thousands in attendance at Freedom Hall.  Ten bands played on a single stage with styles suitable for nearly every musical palate.  If you missed the show this past Saturday, I really do feel for you.  But do not fret.  I am quite excited to give you the highlights of each band.  And then you can count down the days until next year’s show, so that you can experience the party for yourself. 



    Blanca stepped on stage with her giant, curly, blonde hair, sporting a sequined, epaulette-adorned military top.  The emcee, Russ Lee, had jokingly introduced her as Beyonce, and I could see why.  This girl owned the stage.  She possessed a gripping and contagious stage presence.  When she began singing, I recognized her voice, yet I couldn’t place it.  Then she introduced herself.  “This is my first time stepping out solo from Group 1 Crew.”  I realized who she was.  Because I’m a fan of Group 1 Crew, I was naturally attracted to her clean, fresh vocals.  She played her new pop single, “Who I Am."


    for KING & COUNTRY

    I had seen this band perform once before.  I was impressed with their musical prowess and versatility then; I was no less impressed this night.  I counted seven musicians on stage, although it was hard to keep track.  I can describe their performance in two words: coordinated commotion.  I watched as one guy played the tambourine whilst singing.  He then dropped the tambourine to play the accordion.  Another band member clanged two cymbals together briefly before running back to beat on a free-standing drum.  From the cello to trombones, the array of instruments used to create the music was awe-inspiring.  Every member appeared to be comfortable playing every instrument featured on stage.  Originally from Australia, lead Joel Smallbone stated, “Our accents have been compromised by you Americans.”  He read from 1st Corinthians 13, a chapter in the Bible on love.  The band then played their radio hit, “The Proof of Your Love.” 



    Just to give you an overview of this successful event…  This year’s Winter Jam marks its twentieth anniversary.  The tour’s original tile was “Newsong” as a nod to the Grammy-nominated founding band.  Playing in a circular formation in the center of the crowd, Newsong is a veteran group at Winter Jam.  In fact, emcee Russ Lee is the lead singer.  They played their classic hit “Arise, My Love” and the crowd went wild with the powerful crescendos.  Once the song had reached its peak, the entire auditorium went dark.  Then a beautiful female voice was heard at the other end of the stage.  “Spirit, lead me where my trust is without borders.”  It was Jen Ledger, the drummer from Skillet.  A spotlight shone on her as she walked down the runway where Newsong was illuminated, yet frozen.  Very dramatic.


    Family Force 5

    This was one performance I was looking forward to seeing since I had heard stories.  I wasn’t disappointed.  The lead singer, Jacob Olds (“Crouton”), was first spotted on the walkway rocking an illuminated suit jacket… AN.  ILLUMINATED.  SUIT.  JACKET.  My jaw dropped.  The music grew in volume as he switched out from his epic suit jacket into a 'tamer' ensemble.  And by tamer, I mean that he put on a crazy floral blazer that could only be found within the confines of a Forever 21 store.  His blazer was intentionally coordinated with two other band members.  They too were sporting psychedelically patterned blazers.  All three performed a routine on trampolines during the first song.  Crouton eventually came back onto the walkway.  He was dancing, thrashing, doing jumping jacks, jerking, and performing the anti-gravity lean a la Michael Jackson style.  The band had fun, bubbly, multi-colored lights that were constantly pulsing during the show.  Fog machines spewed out smoke sporadically.  Strobe lights erratically beamed across the audience.  During “Chainsaw,” people wearing colored jumpsuits came out to throw balls out to the crowd.  The performance truly was a party.  


    Building 429

    The members of Building 429 looked very suave with their coordinating colors of gray and black.  Lead Jason Roy was fitted out in a shimmery silver suit and sunglasses to top off the look.  They played new songs from their album Impossible, which was exclusively available for purchase at Winter Jam.  The band then went into songs the crowd knew, such as radio hit, “We Won’t Be Shaken.”  A giant disco ball came up from under the stage and illuminated the auditorium during “This Is Not Where I Belong.”  


    Jeremy Camp

    For the people who primarily enjoy acoustic sets, Jeremy Camp was a hit.  He spoke quite a bit in between songs, referencing Bible passages that coincided with his songs.  He played “Walk By Faith” and “He Knows.” 


    Francesca Battistelli

    I am a personal fan of Francesca.  She opened with her radio hit, "Write Your Story.”  Her band set-up included a banjo, two guitarists, a bassist, and a drummer.  Her voice was the main feature of course.  It went from powerful and emotional lilts to soft and breathy tones.  The highlight of her set was the bubble machines that blasted during “This Is the Stuff.”  Another highlight was her awesome cover of “Best Day of My Life” by American Authors.  



    As for the headlining band, Skillet did not disappoint with their opening.  A haunting video of a child singing played overhead.  Two long-haired men with velvety red capes and black masks swooped on stage at either side.  One was playing the cello, the other was playing violin.  Fire shot out from the back of the stage as lead John Cooper began singing “Not Gonna Die.”  The band really pulled out all the stops for this tour.  During “Sick of It,” Jen Ledger’s drum set rolled out to the center of the stage.  Jen sang her heart out and drummed as her drum set elevated and spun.  The fog and smoke machines were really just the cake toppers during this song.  I personally enjoyed “Awake and Alive” because of the intro.  They had a slow beginning that featured the caped cellist before going into the full song.  Going out on the walkway in the center of the crowd, the band performed a folksy version of “Those Nights” to 'satisfy the people who complain about Skillet’s music being loud.'  Both Jen Ledger and John Cooper hopped onto wheeled blocks that rolled around the crowd during “Hero.”  for KING & COUNTRY added to the noise during “Monster.”  Their closing song was “Rebirthing,” during which the drum set became elevated yet again.  Strobe lights flickered, and fireworks went off on stage to complete their grand finale.  Overall, the performance was very intricate and well done.


    Photos: Jared Burnett.

    Mikayla Lott's picture

    About Mikayla Lott

    A tea connoisseur wannabe and a lover of useless trivia, I am a Louisville native who loves art of any sort, specifically fashion. I graduated from Lipscomb University with a degree in Fashion Merchandising. I've traipsed across Europe completing an independent fashion study and that is when my love for travel and fashion writing developed. I have extensive experience across the spectrum of fashion-related duties, including styling, fashion shows, sales management, and visual merchandising. I truly enjoy it all. I am easily amused. So send me a cheesy joke and I will laugh. Guaranteed.

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