Album Review :
Purple Door 2007: Festival Review

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Purple Door 2007
August 17-18
Ski Roundtop, Lewisberry, PA
Festival Review
By Eric Pettersson

The Purple Door festival this past weekend was, like every other year, unlike any other year. Beginning with Friday night, highlights included the second of the Mono Vs. Stereo New Band Showcase, The Apathy Eulogy. TAE is a five-piece acoustic band with a synth out of Baltimore, Maryland. Their fun sing-alongs (as well as keyboardist Mitch Ryan’s dance moves) have only improved from the last time I saw them. Immediately following, I ran over to the Main Stage to catch The Showdown beginning their set with “Temptation Come My Way.” They played a fair share of songs from each of their records, and it turns out that David Bunton couldn’t keep himself from screaming during half of the newer songs (AKA, for those who were pissed at the singing on the new record, go see them live and they will be redeemed in your eyes. You may also be glad to hear that they ended one song by blending it into a brief Pantera tribute.) Craig Gross delivered a great message about the need to humble ourselves and reach out to the hurting with Christ’s love, but unfortunately most people walk away as soon as a speaker hits the stage. Next it was back to the Gallery Stage for House of Heroes. I can’t tell you how thankful I am to hear new material from these guys. It’s been way too long. But the new bassist has meshed well with the band and is actually the lead personality live. They also covered “Can’t Buy Me Love,” a clever fit to their classic Brit rock influenced sound. Speaking of covers, as I was walking back to my car for some much needed food, I overheard Anberlin playing Coldplay’s “Fix You.”

The last three years, Purple Door was headlined by Relient K. This year the band only headlined Friday night, but it worked out really well with the overall schedule since mewithoutYou took their place, but more on that later. Relient K is a band I feel bad for. You can just tell that with the last two records, they’ve really tried to write mature pop songs and real rock tunes, but they just have so much trouble escaping their older material since so many kids still want to hear it. Matt Thiessen even at one point said “Now we’re gonna play a crappy song called ‘Sadie Hawkins Dance’”… and he wasn’t joking. On a fun note, they did do a brief cover of Tears for Fears’ “Head over Heals” before launching into the old hit “In Love with the 80s (Pink Tux to the Prom).” They also played a lot of their better newer songs, and hopefully one day they will decide to draw the line about who they are as a band and stop playing the stuff they wrote as kids. Then again, when that happens, they’ll probably be criticized for selling out and not liking Jesus anymore, for some absurd reason.

Saturday morning, Spoken opened the Main Stage at 10:45 AM. Despite it being so early, they carried an incredible energy, unleashing the slightly heavier sound of their new songs, as well as favorites such as “Promise,” “Wind in My Sails,” and “Bitter Taste.” August Burns Red brought it heavy on the HM Magazine Stage, as always, but the dusty ground was too much for me to stay in the mosh pit for more than a song if I wanted to keep breathing. Bradley Hathaway rocked the Gallery Stage, bringing in a crowd slightly larger than the area was made for. He sang some of his new poems like “So Do I Love You,” and recited some of the old ones, including “The Annoying Hardcore Dude that Goes Too Far,” during which he took a moment to ask the crowd if he’s ever going to have another hit. He also saw that the four guys in the front row were reciting every word with him, so he plainly said “Hey, you guys know this thing as well as I do, come on up here and do it.” So they joined him, which was hilarious. He ended with “On Being Joy and Content.” While talking about his upcoming record, Bradley jokingly said it was all about girls. “No more of that Jesus stuff. I got bored with that, I’m done with it.” It was clearly a joke, and I was shocked to see a few people get up and leave. One stage over, Disciple was rocking it up with their powerful, radio-ready hard rock. At the beginning of one of the songs, the vocalist dedicated it to all the people serving in Afghanistan and Iraq, which was cool. I’ll admit I’m not very familiar with their songs so I don’t know which one it was, but in the middle there was a break from the vocals and the lead singer took that time to expand a thought on the song. “I want to tell you guys, I believe in loving your neighbor. And I believe in turning the other cheek. And man, I just honestly want peace. But when you come against my country, and you attack my people…” Sorry I don’t have more to his quote, but this is where I was too shocked to hear anyone in his position actually supporting the war to be able to think or comprehend anything else he was saying. Moving away from the Main Stage and over to the HM Stage, The Chariot of course threw out a ton of energy, ending with “And Shot Each Other,” taking advantage of the choir loop at the end to pack up their stuff and leave before the song was even done.

The rest of my afternoon was spent at the Gallery Stage. The Glorious Unseen’s set was not so much a rock concert, although their technical, chill indie rock is a spectacle in itself. What they brought to this festival was not a performance, but a worship experience, an honest one that has inspired me to make sure I buy their album, Tonight the Stars Speak, when it is released on Tooth & Nail on October 23. Bringing their intense yet melodic blend of indie with smooth harmonies, passionate shouts, and creative guitar parts, Colour Revolt were a sight to be seen, and fans will be pleased to hear they promised a new record to be out around spring next year. Derek Webb even said he wished he didn’t have to follow them because they were just so good, but he seemed to do just fine. He thanked us for tolerating a folk singer as he sang songs from his past three solo albums, just him and his acoustic guitar, which was a delight for some of the newer songs like “Name” and “Savior on Captiol Hill.” Before closing with “This Too Shall Be Made Right,” Derek spoke to us about the two greatest commandments being love the Lord your God, and love your neighbor as yourself, and everyone is our neighbor, so he pointed out that Africa right now has the highest concentration of the world’s poor. “And most of us don’t give a shit. And right now, more of us are offended by that word than by the fact that thousands of people are dying every day of mosquito bites. People, why are we not upset about this? Why are we not outraged by this?” (Challenging words that even now have not completely sunken in with me.)

For those who worried about the line-up change with As Cities Burn, the new material is less heavy with little screaming, but it’s all just as good, especially the lyrics. Live though, there was still screaming on the older songs, provided by a guitar player, and while it was not as good as TJ’s, it worked. Also, when they closed with “The Widow,” Cody added a line saying he still loves his father even though he’s dying sick in his bed. From what I heard, Leeland did a good job, and Family Force Five was, well, beyond words (whether that’s a good or bad thing, I’m still uncertain). At one point they demanded a circle open up in the crowd for anyone who knew how to break dance. The vocalist also ended up wearing huge silver Incredible Hulk hands and a Transformers mask for “Drama Queen.” Ending with “Earthquake,” Family Force Five then left the stage asking the crowd to get ready for “the greatest band on earth, mewithoutYou.” (He was right.)

On top of all the incredible bands at the festival, mewithoutYou was the perfect ending. The energy and passion that has become the trademark of this band were ever-present, spanning through a selection of songs from Catch for Us the Foxes and Brother, Sister, beginning with “Yellow Spider,” and running through the other two spider songs at later points in the show. Aaron, with his gentle excited shyness, said “What a special night,” and introduced their fill-in touring guitar player, Pete. All afternoon, people had flocked to Aaron and crowded around him in hopes to share a piece of actual conversation with him, which he seems more than willing to provide them. Mark Nicks, vocalist of Cool Hand Luke, joined Aaron on the microphone for the prayer in Arabic at the end of “The Dryness and the Rain,” giving Aaron a kiss on the cheek before exiting the stage (see Romans 16:16, 1 Corinthians 16:20, 2 Corinthians 13:12, and 1 Thessalonians 5:26). A violinist added his flavor to two songs, and at one point, enough friends and fans ran out on stage to fill the entire space with dancers, much like Family Force Five had done for one of their songs, and Aaron couldn’t help hugging a few of these friends before they left the stage at the end of the song.

It was a spectacular night, and my car was one of the first to make it to a convenience store down the road that soon filled with scene kids buying crap to eat and drink on the way home, which added a fun little treat to see each other again and laugh about how awesome the event was (and how tired and sore we were).

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