Live: Winter Jam 2018 in Indy

Each year, we are treated to 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 in Skillet, Building 429, Kari Jobe with Cody Carnes, Jordan Feliz, KB, Newsong, comedian John Crist and speaker Nick Hall, while the pre-show featured Dan Bremnes, Mallary Hope and Westover.

This year’s highlights include:

  • The Pre-Jam Party- Mallary Hope, Jordan Feliz and Dan Bremnes all impressed; Hope lived up to her name- bringing positivity and an infectious sense of happiness to the crowd. You couldn’t help but smile watching her set while Bremnes opened his set standing atop a smaller stage illuminated by smaller lights and, even though his set opened with some sound and technical issues, he plowed through it and made the most of it. Fans couldn’t help but be enamored by his charm and talent.
  • John Crist- his church-based comedy resonated with almost everyone in the crowd. Even if you’ve spent your whole life away from the Church, you can relate to his jokes and if you’ve spent your entire life in the Church, you can more than relate to his comedy. He touched on Hobby Lobby,church songs and more and was met with roars of laughter and applause on numerous occasions.
  • Newsong- in past years, Newsong haven’t been one to write home to for a lot of the younger fans but this year was completely different. Their set featured a more electronic sound and opened in dynamic and powerful form and it was clear they were out to make a statement- then again, with a lineup like this year’s you have to come out swinging for the fences to hold your own. Their visuals were insane and their stage presence was so energetic it rubbed off on the crowd.
  • KB- a complete change of pace. Whether you like rap and hip hop or not, you couldn’t help but move around and dance- parents, children and youth leaders all over the arena were invested in KB’s set. KB doesn’t do your traditional rap music- he actually talks about content that has a meaning and his live show translates that perfectly.
  • Kari Jobe & Cody Carnes- Jobe has built her name on worship-style music and bringing her husband Carnes along for the ride has been an excellent addition to her show. It doesn’t just add to the music, it adds to the authenticity of Jobe’s music and her set. They compliment each other in every way and you could feel the emotion in their message.
  • Skillet- this was the perfect way to end the night. After nine artists/bands, the crowd was ready to rock and Skillet brought it from start to finish. Opening with “Feel Invincible,” singer John Cooper looked to have been on the front of the extended stage, singing the opening lines to the song, but when the band ripped into the instrumentals, the hooded man at the front of the stage ran backstage and Cooper catapulted to the top of the arena- wearing a harness and descending back down to the stage- which was engulfed in smoke and fire.

Even though they only played nine songs, you couldn’t tell. They had so much production and visual “awe” moments that you weren’t paying attention to anything but being in the moment- which is what a concert is all about. “Sick of It’ saw Cooper bring out the guns- literally- he had a backpack, which had tubes running to his arms which had a gun on the end of each one- shooting smoke out of them, which was another first for a Skillet show.

“Hero” saw Cooper and drummer Jen Ledger leave the stage and step onto small platforms that took them across the edges of the arena so they could play up close to every inch of the arena and ended back on the stage before the lights went down again.

When the lights went back up, the entire bands was in the back of the arena on a smaller stage, which was only illuminated by hanging lights- adding a very intimate setting. It was here that Cooper talked about his past battles with anger and depression when his mother passed away from cancer when he was 14 years old and his father re-married soon after. He realized through praying that he could make it through this time in his life and he’s glad he did. After this, they played an acoustic version of “Stars,” before finishing the evening with Skillet show staple “Monster” which saw them joined by Building 429’s Jason Roy and closing things out with “The Resistance,” during which Ledger’s drum set drove to the front of the stage and began to raise and rotate during the song as smoke shot out from behind her.

In the end, 2018’s edition of Winter Jam was one of the most powerful, emotional and impressive yet. It’s clear the people behind the scenes have a big heart for ministry and they’ve been doing a great job of keeping the foundation of what Winter Jam is all about while molding the event into one that can reach more than just Bible-believing Christians- but when you have bands and artists like Skillet and KB on the tour- Winter Jam can be used to reach people who don’t believe at all and people of all ages.

-Reggie Edwards