Live Review: Winter Jam 2016

Each year, we are graced with two of the biggest tours in all of music- the Rock and Worship Roadshow and Winter Jam. Each are easily two of the highest-selling and attended tours and they hit almost every city in the country. Recently Winter Jam hit Indianapolis at Bankers Life Fieldhouse, boasting one of the most-diverse and stacked lineups yet. Featuring Stars Go Dim, We Are Messengers, rappers Tedashii, KB & Trip Lee, Sidewalk Prophets, Newsong, Red, Lauren Daigle, Crowder, Matthew West and For King & Country, this year’s Winter Jam has been one to catch. The night started early- as does every Winter Jam- with the pre-jam party featuring Stars Go Dim and We Are Messengers. Both bands are going strong with new records having just released and featured a CCM pop-rock vibe that got everyone ready for the bulk of the show, which started with Tedashii ripping the roof off the place early. Tedashii was on the Rock and Worship Roadshow last year and has really grown his fanbase playing the arena tours this year and last year. With a high-octane set that some people may not have been ready for, it was an adrenaline rush that fit perfectly. Not long after Tedashii finished up, KB took the stage for a set that featured some samples of classic rock hits like “Don’t Stop Believing” and won over the older and younger fans at the same time. There’s nothing like some fast-paced, arena anthem Christian rap to get a big tour going and that’s exactly what KB and Tedashii have brought to Winter Jam. After a powerful and inspiring set by Lauren Daigle that saw her using every inch of the stage and newly-implemented extended side-stages, Sidewalk Prophets hit the stage with a set that was a little heavier and louder than a lot of people have been familiar with from them in the past and won over anyone in the crowd who could have been skeptical of what the band can really offer. They also had the goosebumps moment of the night when they brought a young boy on stage. John Mikkah has autism and it’s always been his dream to sing on Winter Jam. They brought him on stage to fulfill his dream and he accompanied them for “The Words I Would Say” and, if you didn’t get chills or choke back tears, I don’t know what will do it for you. Not long after they wrapped it up, Red blew the crowd away with a set loaded with pyro fire, smoke and some of the best rock in all of Christian music. They’re out supporting their latest record- Of Beauty and Rage– and Winter Jam’s elaborate stage and production gave Red a chance to bring the album’s concept of light and darkness to life in a way they haven’t been able to do yet. Dressed with facial make up that made them look like they were blasted out of a comic book, their short set was by-far one of the most memorable and- after talking to a few fans after their set- I can tell you for sure that they made some new fans on Winter Jam. Matthew West and Crowder were up next and both played powerful and polarizing sets that couldn’t have been more opposite each other. West played a short set that featured most of his bigger hits and also saw him bringing Casting Crowns frontman Mark Hall onstage as well as a young boy from the crowd to help him out during one of the songs. West’s sense of humor during his between-song banter with the crowd mixed with songs inspired directly from fans’ stories made- as always- for a set that made you want to see him again down the road. Crowder, on the other hand, beautifully blended rock, CCM and bluegrass into one sound that I like to call electro-rock-bluegrass and it works better than you’ll ever imagine. Complete with a stage setup that made it look like an old western town, things fit perfectly and set the stage for a heck of a ride. To top it off, he brought Tedashii out for a remix of “Rest Your Head Weary Sinner” that sent chills down the spine of everyone in attendance. After For King & Country wrapped things up with a headline set that saw them utilizing every inch of the arena, the second stage in the back of the arena, coming into the crowd and inspiring everyone with between-song messages, the 2016 Indianapolis stop for Winter Jam was in the books and everyone was ready for the next Winter Jam show. In the end, Winter Jam did exactly what they do every year. They brought a loaded lineup to Indianapolis, giving fans a chance to see almost every artist and band they like as well as opening their eyes and broadening their horizons, exposing them to other bands and artists they’d never get to see or wouldn’t normally listen to. With Winter Jam, there’s something for everyone and or just $10 cash admission at the door, this is the only show some people are able to afford all year. There’s no doubt they got their money’s worth this year and we can only look forward to Winter Jam 2017. -Reggie Edwards Click here for exclusive photos of every band from the show