The last day of March marked the second to last night of this year’s Rock and Worship Roadshow tour, featuring a stacked line-up ensuring everyone in attendance would find something they loved. Oftentimes when you see a show towards the end of the tour you can kind of feel the burnout the artists are feeling, but if there was any fatigue on the part of the bands, you would’ve been hard-pressed to find it. In fact, this just might have been the most energy-packed RWRS line up of the past couple of years!
Urban Rescue and Derek Minor helped kick off the evening with a bit of pre-show fun, and helped usher fans into the kaleidoscope of style they would be experiencing throughout the night. Towards the end of his set Derek Minor took the opportunity to talk about have divided our nation had become as of late, and how important it is to stand together and be united in our faith to help serve a hurting world.
Breakout star Jordan Feliz kicked off the main event. Although he’s still relatively new to the scene, 28-year-old Feliz has made big moves over the last year, especially with his breakout single “The River” which he saved for the end of his set, making for an explosive response from the crowd when he slyly asked if they were ready to go ‘down to the river’ as the opening notes played.
Longtime youth favorites Family Force 5 were up next, appearing surprisingly early in the night, in my opinion. As the night progressed it was easy to see a nice flow to the artists, and it ended up working out perfectly that the ultimate hype-masters played early, ensuring that the few crowd members who opted to remain sitting thus far fully gave over to the fun of the night and hopped to their feet as well. With choreographed dance moves and a funky 80’s fashion sense, FF5 is a unique act, to say the least. Although this year’s appearance didn’t feature any trampolines or chainsaws, the band proved that all they need to win over a crowd is their quirky personality and catchy choruses.
Making for a somewhat dramatic shift in style Family Force 5 was followed by Rend Collective, the Irish worship band who’s been making quite a name for themselves over the past few years. While Family Force 5 decided to leave the props at home, Rend Collective had them covered, pulling out a machine that spewed bubbles across the crowd as well as giant panda heads the entire band performed in during their final song (yes, you read that correctly- panda heads.)
If you’re not yet familiar with Rend Collective it may be hard to imagine a worship band using panda heads and bubbles, but their energy is so natural and overflowing that nothing seems like it would feel too over-the-top with this group- these guys (and gal) are breaking down barriers and showing both the CCM and secular world alike that worship doesn’t have to be stiff and tight, but it can be what it really is at heart- a celebration of God’s love and sacrifice! …and yea, sometimes that might make you want to wear a panda head and dance in a bubble storm!
Continuing in the period of worship, Passion band took the stage and sent the whole room dancing. Not being someone who follows modern worship music too closely I initially wondered if it would be a bit redundant to have both Rend Collective and Passion on the bill, but both bands put on such a killer show and they each have a pretty unique style that that thought never crossed my mind once I was there. Passion band’s members probably take the award for “fittest band on the tour”- the non-stop jumping the members did throughout their set was enough to exhaust me just by watching! This was a fantastic way to rev up the crowd, though, and most of the crowd jumped right along with them throughout the set.
Francesca Battesteilli was the final act before headliner Steven Curtis Chapman. Because I wasn’t overly familiar with Francesca’s work I was a bit surprised to see her so high up on the bill, but as soon as she walked on stage it was abundantly clear that was a position she had more than earned- the audience went wild and a large portion of the crowd was singing along to every word of her entire set. Although she’s probably best known for her rendition of Jesus Culture’s “Holy Spirit,” Battestelli’s original tracks were huge hits throughout her set as well, especially her single “He Knows My Name,” a song that provided hope and encouragement to the young crowd to be unashamed of being who they are in Christ, and reminding them of their value.
Despite the fact that Battestelli is well along in her 4th pregnancy her performance was high energy, and joy was radiating off her face the entire time.
At long last, 30-year industry veteran Steven Curtis Chapman burst onto the stage performing the beloved classic “Dive.” My only prior experience seeing Chapman live was at an acoustic/Christmas show, so I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but Chapman’s energy and enthusiasm for his show rivals the younger acts on the tour! Midway through his set he hopped off stage and made his way to the B-Stage to do a bit of a retrospective medley and chat with the crowd a bit (as well as to show off his nifty personalized Indiana Pacers jersey the venue had gifted him with earlier in the day)
By far the most surprising and touching part of the night was Steven’s performance of “Cinderella.” The song was an instant hit when it first released, but gained a far heavier poignancy with the unexpected loss of one of Chapman’s young daughters. Steven thanked the crowd for their continued support over the years and talked about the deeper meaning the song took on after Maria’s death, and how he learned to cherish the small moments.
In an effort to facilitate a ‘small moment’ for those in attendance he encouraged those in the audience to share a dance with their loved one. Initially he spoke of dads and daughters, but as I looked around the room there were couples, parents and children, and best friends all taking advantage of the opportunity to slow down and really appreciate the privilege of sharing a moment together. What was so touching was the fact that this was not passive engagement in the show- hundreds of people were full-on ‘ballroom dancing’ throughout the venue, completely lost in the moment.
Although the Roadshow is now over for 2017, thinking about the performances that were given on this run makes it impossible not to start thinking about its return in 2018. The Roadshow manages to create a tour package that sounds kind of crazy when you read through the list of names, but once you’re there and you experience the show as a whole, it all makes perfect sense. The experience has only gotten better and better each year, so 2018’s Roadshow should absolutely be part of any CCM fan’s spring plans next year!