Well, I just got back from "Spirit Song 2003" in Cincinnati, Ohio, which was a 3-day Christian rock festival held at the Timberwolf Ampitheater at King's Island amusement park. It was pretty awesome! I can hardly believe that I actually got to see some of my faves play live!
The full lineup for the 3 days can be found here. The festival started on Thursday night with Pillar, Relient K, and Newsboys. Between 11am and 4/5pm on Friday and Saturday, new unknown artists played.
Friday night's lineup consisted of Warren Barfield, Superchick, Skillet, ZOEgirl, Avalon, and Michael W. Smith, in that order. Saturday night's lineup consisted of Sarah Kelly, London Calling, Rachael Lampa, Toby Mac, and Third Day in that order. (I think GS Megaphone were originally scheduled, too, but weren't there.)
The artists I had most wanted to see were Relient K, Newsboys, Superchick, Skillet, ZOEgirl, Rachael Lampa, and Toby Mac. And I got to see all of them (except I missed the first few songs that Superchick played).
I went there with a few people from my church who camped out there. They were mostly interested in the rides, it seems, and missed most of the concerts. They didn't know most of the artists, though, except for Newsboys, MWS and Third Day, so they stayed for those. (They saw more of MWS and Third Day than I did actually, since I left before those two had finished.)
I hung out mostly with my sister (who lives in Cinci) and staying at her house instead of camping out. I had brought a camera along, but forgot to take it with me to the concert on Thursday. I took it with me on Friday and Saturday, but I was so far away from the stage that you can hardly see the performers. (I took around 45 photos at the concert and got it developed a few hours ago. A few of the better pics can be found illustrating this article.)
I had brought with me a few copies of CCM Magazine that had on the covers artists who would be appearing at the show. I even took with me the CCM Mag that had Superchick on the cover on Friday, but ended up leaving the mag in the car. It wasn't until late on Friday that I discovered where the signing booth was. After each artist played (except for those who closed the shows), they would go to a booth by the entrance of the theater where they'd sign autographs. I happened to be walking by there, after taking a restroom break, when I saw a line of people waiting to get stuff signed by ZOEgirl. I took some photos of the group, but there were too many people in the way to get a good shot.
Avalon was singing on stage (with Greg Long filling in for Michael Passions) while ZOEgirl signed autographs, so since I'm not an Avalon fan, I decided to watch ZOEgirl sign autographs and then try to get a good pic when the line ended and they got up to leave. There was a lady there who, like me, was also not in the line and just waiting for them to finish. When they were done and they got up, she went up to them and they recognized her and she went backstage with them. So apparently she was a friend of theirs who had dropped by to see them.
Of course, not everyone knows them! This one presenter at the concert apparently thought that "Superchick" and "ZOEgirl" should be plural, so she kept saying "Superchicks" and "ZOEgirls." So, unfortunately, she was the one who introduced ZOEgirl and called them "ZOEgirls." Seems like people can't get that name right...
I was impressed, incidentally, by how both ZOEgirl and Rachael Lampa had actual bands performing the music on stage. Rachael mentioned on stage that last time she was here, she had performed to backing tracks, when she thanked the guys in her band. I think Avalon was the only one I saw performing to recorded instrumental backing tracks.
Rachael sang a new song that she has just recorded for her upcoming album and she mentioned that she'd only sung it live a few times and each time had made a mistake, although we wouldn't be able to tell because we don't know how the song is supposed to go yet. When she finished it, she said she made it through this time without a mistake. I think the song was called "When I Fall." It sounded like a rocking tune.
I thought Rachael sang well, especially on the song "Blessed," which I think is designed to display her vocal talents. I thought her brief performance of that song at the 2001 Dove Awards was a bit over-the-top (like Mariah Carey or something), like she was trying too hard, but I didn't feel that way about her performance of it last night. She sang it flawlessly and elegantly (not that I'm an expert in such things) and the audience applauded during one point in the song where she nailed it. (It felt like one of those "American Idol" moments.) Her set seemed to strike a balance between the AC sound of Avalon and a more rock sound. And she closed the set with "Savior Song," getting people on their feet in preparation for the more energetic sounds of Toby Mac.
When Rachael was done with her set, I went back over to the autograph table. The line to see her had been forming before she'd even stepped on stage, so I didn't bother waiting in line, and figured I'd wait to get a pic of her arriving at the table. I got a couple photos of her arriving at the booth before the line of people obstructed my view. I have to say that the photos don't do her justice; she looked even more beautiful in person.