Saturday night I had a bad dream. In this dream, I arrived at a concert. As I entered the venue, none of the band members high-fived me on the way in. I went in and found a seat in the mostly-empty room. The lights were on, and finding a seat was pretty easy because there was hardly anyone there. There was a table set up just behind where I was sitting, and I discovered that it was set up for the band members to check in when they arrived; indeed, they straggled in one by one three or four minutes before showtime. Then the show began: a dude walked out with an acoustic guitar, sat down on a stool, and played a song that was so boring I can't even remember it. Everyone was sitting in the back five or six rows. It was the worst concert experience ever.
When I woke up Sunday morning, I tweeted about the dream
: "AWFUL nightmare last night! I dreamed I got to Club Awesome Live and there were NO HIGH FIVES from the bands and @air1brant!" Within 20 minutes, Air 1 DJ Brant Hansen tweeted back "This will NOT come true." And it certainly didn't! That night when we arrived at the Club Awesome Live concert at Fresh Start Community Church in Moore, Oklahoma (just south of Oklahoma City) we found almost exactly the opposite of what I had dreamed! I'm so glad it WASN'T a "dream come true"!
Actually, when we arrived at the church about a half-hour before the doors opened, what we found was that a HUGE line had already formed
. People were PUMPED for this thing! And why not? A show featuring thumping dance music with a live DJ, and performances from 7eventh Time Down
, AND KJ-52
? And for FREE? I'm surprised every Christian music fan in Northwest Oklahoma didn't show up! As it was, we drove the two hours from home in the Tulsa area... I saw a tweet from someone who drove THREE hours from Arkansas to get there. That's dedication!
"Club Awesome" is actually an imaginary dance club that the aforementioned Brant Hansen hosts on his radio show every Friday afternoon. He plays dance mixes of the songs that they play all the time on Air1, and in between songs he has a club music bed and some exciting crowd sounds, and he describes what's going on in his "awesome" dance club: "We've got all kinds of awesome stuff in Club awesome today... we have my awesome stamp collection, we've got a Settlers of Catan booth for people who want to play Settlers of Catan, we've got Lord of the Rings action figures, an awesome milk bar, historical documents hanging on the wall for people who want to look at the Magna Carta..." ...you get the picture. Well, at the real live Club Awesome tour, we did have Brant's AWESOME stamp collection (I liked the patriotic stamp panels from 1976 the best), and there was a Commemorative Plate-making booth (where you could make your own commemorative paper plate to commemorate the occasion). There were awesome banners outside that you could take your picture with (for example, one of the banners read something to the effect of "Here is an awesome banner you can take your picture with!"). Once you got inside (and Brant and the band members DID high-five every attendee on the way in!) there really was a live DJ playing thumping club-style music. And this was no ordinary Christian rock concert crowd, either... there were dudes dressed up like horses
, and Batman and Dr. Watson made an appearance as well
. If you really want to get some flavor of what the overall experience was like, check out this video that KJ-52 posted
- he basically seems to have chronicled the entire experience from his point of view. I haven't tried to spot myself in his crowd shots, although I'm probably close enough that my head's in there somewhere!
As to the bands, they were all GREAT. They clearly gave it their best. I would have liked for the main mic to have been a little louder... it was pretty hard to hear the lead vocals most of the time, but it was plenty loud enough to rock out. My 4-year-old daughter LOVED it. When we're listening to the radio in the car, she's the most likely to say "turn it up!" so I knew she could handle some volume. It was loud enough to be exciting, but not painfully loud... no ringing ears afterward. Each band had their own style and presence... 7eventh Time Down has a bit of a modern metal band thing going on (they remind me of the music of the hair bands that were still left in the early 90s) - Manafest is super aggressive rap-metal (I was surprised that I recognized most every song from Air1!)... KJ-52 was just a one-man party (OK, he had DJ Morph and a live drummer helping him out, but he brought the fun up on stage with his crazy set). The crowd was TOTALLY into it. KJ in particular had us dancing... I'm not sure I've ever seen an ENTIRE CROWD participating to the extent that we did during his set! Every band had songs that had everybody singing along, and loudly enough that you could hear it over the band!
When KJ was done, the show still wasn't over! The DJ kept spinning the beats, and as the bulk of the crowd left to go home or to visit with the band members (who were all hanging out in the lobby or just outside) some of the people who weren't ready for the party to end hung out in a big circle and watched as the more adventurous among them busted a dance move or two in the center. It was so fun and silly and uninhibited and accepting and joyful! Brant was still back in the rear of the auditorium, and there was a long line to meet him. We waited for our turn... I actually went to sit down with my little girl (who, by this time, was running out of gas for the evening), and my 12-year-old son and wife waited in line. And who should walk up to them but the awesomely fun "Producer Sherry" from Brant's radio show! She chatted with them for a minute or two, and she totally cracked up when my son told her how much he loves the puppet videos they do, particularly the William F. Flappypants Intellectual Puppet Cooking Show
. When we reached the front of the line and got a chance to talk to Brant, he was incredibly warm and welcoming... he made us feel like we were the main people he had come to see that night. He actually remembered me from Twitter, which was a surprise to me! How great is that, that the folks who are putting on this huge party want nothing more than to truly connect one-on-one with their listeners?
A few other odds and ends about the concert: it was HOT. It was a hot sweaty concert. Not the hottest sweatiest that I've ever been to (maybe I'll tell that story some other time) but very sweaty. I spent most of the two hours holding a fifty-pound four-year-old in my arms so she could see, and I'm no muscle-man... both of my arms are TOTALLY SORE this morning! And in fact, we had a little incident with her partway through Manafest's set... let's just say that she was having a tough time communicating "I need to go to the potty" over the volume of the music. My poor wife went out with her to take care of business, and she was so kindly assisted by several of the staff members of Fresh Start Community Church - they went above and beyond the call of duty to help her take care of my little girl. They have my biggest thanks for their love! Also, the free event included a chance to share a few dollars with an organization called CURE
which takes the healing mission of Christ to impoverished nations by making surgeries available to children who are ostracized by their society simply because they have some physical deformity... club foot, for example. We hoped to raise $1,000 - it only takes one thousand dollars! - to pay for a little girl to get a surgery for her legs in I believe it was Zambia. I hope we made it!
This event easily rated up there with the most fun concerts I've ever attended, and I've been to quite a few over the years. I think the only shows that are anywhere near close are the several TobyMac
concerts we've been to... let's just say that any time TobyMac is within shooting distance, we are THERE. His shows are high-octane, crazy fun. This had the same quality, but because it was Club Awesome, there was a zaniness to the whole thing that you really don't see in Christian concerts. And why not? Christians have every right to have fun. In fact, I'd say that Christians SHOULD have fun. We have something to be joyful about that people who don't know Jesus don't have: we have freedom from the bondage of sin, and new life in Jesus! We should be relaxed and filled with excitement and joy all of the time! I hope that the folks who attend Club Awesome in the next week or so while it's going on get a taste for living a life of joy in Christ Jesus. He died to bring it to us!
Here's a picture of the crowd from last night that was posted on Air1's Facebook. I love these guys