Friday August 18th and Saturday August 19th , 2006
MewithoutYou / Norma Jean / Dead Poetic / He is Legend / Showbread / Copeland / Lovedrug / Anathallo / Bradley Hathaway and many more
Ski Roundtop, Lewisberry, PA
Multiple-day, all-day music festivals are probably the coolest things in the world to attend. Yeah, you may come home the next day completely exhausted, sun-burnt, covered in dirt and various unidentifiable things, and have blisters all over your feet, but you have such an awesome time that none of those things matter. Seriously. You haven’t lived unless you’ve attended one. No, Warped Tour doesn’t really count; they have to have GOOD music. The music festival I had the pleasure of attending (for the first time ever, no less) was Purple Door, one of the largest Christian music festivals on the East Coast.
First of all, this is not just a music festival. It’s held every year in August at Ski Roundtop, and in addition to the bands performing, there are tens of food vendors, a skate park, and an art show with works compiled from mostly student submissions. The atmosphere itself is incredible, with people ranging from families bringing their small children along to goth kids that look like they’re either going trick-or-treating or trying to be Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance to elderly people sitting on lawn chairs enjoying the people watching. Now granted, based on the lineup, a good 90% of the people in attendance are wannabe scene kids in the 16 – 25 age group, but I was personally more amused with the elderly and satanic looking kids at the Christian music festival.
The music itself (since this is really supposed to be about the music) was all around amazing. There was a slight scare and He is Legend almost didn’t perform, due to some sort of van problems, but they soldiered on and put on a great, great set. However, their performance paled in comparison to MewithoutYou’s. In my opinion, they stole the show from every other band that played. Now you must remember that I am slightly partial, because they’re one of my all time favorite bands. However, by the last song of their set (which happened to be a new one off of their forthcoming album ‘Brother, Sister’), they had a good twenty to thirty members of the crowd up onstage dancing, along with at least 5 extra members on horns, drums, and the harp. If any non-Christian was in attendance and saw their performance, I guarantee that they instantaneously accepted Jesus as his or her personal savior. Yes, MewithoutYou’s performance was that moving.
While I was completely enthralled with MewithoutYou’s performance, there were some other excellent ones as well, namely Showbread, Norma Jean, and Anathallo. Showbread is awesome because a. they wore matching outfits b. one of the vocalists wore fishnets and gloves and c. they have a keytarist. A KEYTARIST. If that isn’t the coolest thing you’ve ever heard….then you haven’t heard a lot of cool things. Then there was Norma Jean, and admittedly, even though they’re the quintessential Christian hardcore band, I am not a big fan of theirs. In fact, I think the only really good song they’re ever written is “Memphis Will be Laid to Waste”. Despite this, they put on a great show, being that their music is conducive to being listened to live rather than on CD.
Quite possibly the highlight of all of Purple Door for me was hearing my aforementioned favorite song by them be played. I think the reason that it’s so awesome is because Aaron Wise, the vocalist from MewithoutYou does guest vocals in the end, and because both Norma Jean AND MewithoutYou were playing at the festival, I knew it was inevitable that they were going to play this song. …and when they did, oh man was it amazing. Another band that needs to be mentioned is a relatively unknown one named Anathallo. They just recently released a full length CD entitled [u]Floating World[/u] and it is unlike anything I’ve ever heard in an awe-inspiring way. For lack of a better way to describe them, I’ll resort to using their myspace description of Folk/Experimental. But trust me when I say that they’re so much better than that description makes them sound; because quite honestly, I don’t really like folk OR experimental. In addition to the greatness of their music, they also put on a great live show with audience involvement, crazy instrumentation, and dancing. Check them out, or you’ll be sorry, guaranteed.
Regardless of whether you were there for the Jesus or for the music, the atmosphere was amazing, and the sense of community that it fostered was a unique one. And really, how many times do you get the chance to see “Memphis Will Be Laid to Waste” as originally intended? Yeah, that’s right.