Album Review :
Air 1 Presents: Club Awesome Live Tour 2012 - KJ-52, Manafest, 7eventh Time Down
Artists: KJ-52, Manafest, 7eventh Time Down, Brant Hansen
Tour: Club Awesome Live Tour 2012 presented by Air1 and Cure
Venue: Fresh Start Community Church, Moore, OK
Concert Date: 12/02/12
Reviewer: Lee Brown
There are many things I can say about the Club Awesome Tour, but first I need to state a disclaimer. Through a very odd string of events, my church became the host venue for this tour on its stop through Oklahoma. Basically, the venue that Air1 had secured dropped the show exactly one week before the concert was scheduled. Air1 got in touch with CedEnough from Church Boy Entertainment, who contacted me, and the rest was history.
As you can imagine, with only a week to change all advertisements and secure everything needed to move from a larger venue to our church, which seats around 500 (over a thousand people showed up!), chaos was at least a little inevitable. That being said, Air1 did a great job of making it work.
Now, because the church I work at ended up hosting the tour, I will not give a numerical score to review the concert. Being behind the scenes all day at the show would make an unbiased critique utterly impossible. So, with this review, I’ll give some critique to the music, insights on the artists themselves, and close out with my thoughts.
7eventh Time Down
To be more than honest, I had no clue 7eventh Time Down was coming. In the week I had to prepare our church for the show, I was thinking KJ and Manafest. However, to my surprise, I was greeted immediately after church (the show was on a Sunday) by the boys from 7eventh Time Down and Kayleigh from Air1.
Prior to the concert, I was mostly unaware of 7eventh Time Down (having only heard their great “Alive in You” song). But, I found them to be some of the hardest working guys around. No lie. While the other acts were at their hotels, these guys were bringing in the rigs and lights, setting up the venue, and getting everyone else’s equipment set up. After the show, they were also the ones who stuck around and did tear down. All in all, these guys were at the church from noon to midnight doing some seriously hard work.
It’s great to say that they are also just really great and genuine guys (all of the artists and Air1 crew were, to be honest). While helping set up, their vocalist Mikey, who is nearing surgery, held and watched my son Logan for a bit while we set up the venue. Their guitarist also doubled as the resident electrician in making sure everything was connected and ready.
In terms of their show itself, the crowd shared some of the same initial reaction I had. For the most part, it was apparent that the crowd was a little more unfamiliar with this band than the other acts. However, once 7eventh Time Down hit their radio-dominating “Alive in You” (mid-set), the crowd started to warm up. In general, the band showed great stage presence and did a great job of engaging the crowd, despite the fact that they had to introduce themselves at the same time.
When I went up to introduce myself to Manafest, he simply and unassumingly (with a thick Canadian accent to boot, get it?) introduced himself as Chris. Before and after the show Manfest spent a good deal of time hanging out with people and taking pictures. During the show, he rocked an awesome Whosoevers shirt and electrified the crowd. It was clear from the beginning that the audience was pumped for his set and knew a good deal of the songs.
In terms of the set itself, the song selection was heavily balanced towards the newest album (Fighter). That said, Chris did a great job of mixing in popular tracks from The Chase, including a rocking go at “No Plan B” that seemed to get the crowd moving more than I saw at any other point during the night. In terms of songs prior to The Chase, I really didn’t catch much. There was one notable track that was firmly rooted in Manafest’s more hip-hop centered days, but due to other duties at the time, I didn’t catch which track it was.
Near the end of the set, the band belted out the anthemic “Fighter,” which rode the energy the band was creating to a fever pitch in terms of audience interaction. To close, Chris brought a brief testimony/ Gospel message to the audience, sharing his belief in Christ and how he found strength in Him. Following the testimony, the set came to an end with “Every Time You Run” (Trevor from TFK’s voice was played as a track in the background), rather than one of their more raucous tracks. Though this sort of served as “opposite momentum,” it was effective in brining the crowd into the testimony.
KJ served dual roles during the “Club Awesome” show. From the start of the show, he co-hosted the event with Brant Hansen from Air1. He also served as the closing act. Together, Brant and KJ made a rather humorous pair. Possibly my favorite moment with the two saw KJ rapping while Brant showed up in the background as “Swagzilla” and hammed it up.
KJ-52 has been in the industry for a long time, especially in rapper years (which are sort of like dog years, but with a slightly different and distinctive smell). As such, there is absolutely not a bone in KJ’s body that hasn’t been trained to exude charisma, crowd control, and panache. In fact, from the moment KJ stepped into the venue until the last fan was out the door, KJ served as a consummate General and driving force for the show. Never one to fear acting goofy publicly for the pure spectacle of it, there was just something about his time on stage that certainly made you feel free to just have a good time.
As with Manafest’s set, KJ’s song choices leaned towards his newest record (Dangerous). That being said, there were plenty of fun songs mixed in. After every couple songs KJ would bring out a fun track to keep the audience moving. These included, The Mountain Dew Song, a version of Stuck in the 80’s where DJ Morph would unleash an actual 80’s gem while KJ hyped up the audience (Toto and Michael Jackson were just some of the gems played during this interlude), and “Do the Bill Cosby.” There was also an interlude where KJ asked DJ Morph to play “the best song on his iPad,” at which point songs like “Gangnam Style,” “Party Rock Anthem,” and other notable “hot” tracks were sampled briefly while KJ asked Morph if they were “really” the best he had, asking the audience to weigh in each time.
As with Manafest, KJ closed out his set with a brief Gospel presentation. Overall, KJ started with the audience in his hands and never let them go. Though many people decry KJ for being “too cheesy” or “too silly,” after I got to spend some time with KJ through the day I found that this is all just a part of the character. KJ does things over the top, but he does it with the skill of a great showman, and it really works. I honestly can’t say I’ve been to many other shows where every single member of the family engaged with the artist and had fun while doing it. There was never a moment when KJ was on stage that the audience wasn’t entertained, goofy, serious, or otherwise.
Brant was technically the host of the show (with KJ as his sidekick, or… vice versa). As such, his role was to introduce and close out the show, with a little segment in the middle to draw attention to the CURE booth at the back of the room that was seeking to raise support for sick children. That’s what his role was on paper. Brant, however, took this to a whole new level. From his awesomely self-proclaimed “nerd suit,” to his intrusion into KJ’s set dressed as “Swagzilla,” Brant really did add a whole other element to the concert. In fact, it was Brant, I’m told, who came up with the idea to have a station for people to make personalized “Club Awesome” paper plates, a free nacho bar, a nerd contest, and so much more that just added to the fun of the evening.
While “promoters” are usually the silent partners during these sort of events, it was really Brant’s personality that served as the foundation for everything else that happened. All in all, I’d say he added that “X” factor to the show that made all the parts come together into something great. The fans really picked up on this. Until this show, I’ve never been to an event where someone in Brant’s position had a line of fans waiting to see him that lasted (I counted) well over an hour after all of the bands were done packing up their merch tables.
Before I close, I have to add a personal remark. I mentioned Brant’s role above, but I want to share a quick note about his impact. Brant has a great story. Be sure to check out his “I am Second” video! His is the tale of the underdog that so many resonate with. But, just having a story means very little if you don’t have a huge heart for people, as well. Brant proved his heart in a huge way after the show. A few fans stuck around to help with the clean up efforts (one dressed fully as Batman!) after the show. During this time, one of them asked Brant if he wanted to go play Ultimate Frisbee. I can only imagine that Brant was rather gassed by this time (it was close to 11 P. M. at this point), but he took time out of his own brainchild tour to head out and play with the fans. And it wasn’t just a nicety, either, as he didn’t return until over an hour later, covered in sweat.
It’s moments like that that turn a “show” into an opportunity for real life transformation.
Overall: Air1 proved that radio is just as “Awesome” as ever at the “Club Awesome tour.” 7eventh Time Down produced a solid set that helped the crowd to get to know them in a big way. Manafest simply turned it up and rocked the house. Kj-52 was captain charisma personified, and never let the crowd slip from his hands. And, Brant Hansen showed what having a platform should really look like as he took the time out to play ultimate frisbee with some fans after the show.
Once again, big thanks to CedEnough and Kayleigh at Air1 for making this whole thing happen when it all looked to fall apart a week prior.