Editor's Blog

So I yelled at an usher at Winter Jam (and later apologized)

posted Feb 23, 2012, 8:00 AM by Sarah Brehm

I have never been much of a fan of Winter Jam. I like the idea of Winter Jam—several top Christian bands and artists getting together to play together for sold-out crowds. While the music is typically in the contemporary genre—something that I don’t normally listen to—this isn’t why I haven’t been won over by Winter Jam.


It’s the logistics of Winter Jam that bother me.


Years ago, before this concert tour was so popular, the fact that you didn’t have to buy a ticket wasn’t a problem because places rarely sold out. But that isn’t the case anymore. Eager patrons line up in front of the arenas hours before the show starts just to get a good seat. It takes forever to get through the line, and in some cases, hundreds of people get turned away. People waiting in line save spots for others, people cut to the front, and when the doors finally open people push and shove each other. Then, once inside the arena, it’s essentially a free-for-all for seats. Groups send out a “scout” who claims a block a seats, even though the Winter Jam website informs people that saving seats is not allowed.


As the crowd continues to file in, the search for seats becomes painful. Concert-goers wander to empty seats, only to find that those sitting there are in the restroom or buying merchandise. And even though the show was supposed to start at 6:00, by the time you get in, it’s only 6:15, but several acts have already performed.


Discontentment and frustration slowly rise and your blood begins to boil. All you wanted was to come to a show and listen to some music, but now you’re in a miserable mood. Without a seat, you stand at the railing (which clearly has a sign that says “No standing.”)


This was me. And when an usher told me I had to move, I kind of exploded. Where was I supposed to find a seat? I refused to move, and angrily he walked away. I realized he was going to get a cop.


Annoyed, I (and my mom) moved, found the usher and explained that everyone was saving seats in the section we were standing in.


To blow off steam, my mom and I walked around the arena, pausing every so often to watch a few minutes of the show.


I know anger was not the reaction I should have had, but sometimes emotions get the best of us.


After a while, my mom and I decided to find the usher again, but this time to apologize. We explained that it was wrong of us to yell at him—he was just doing his job. Our frustrations were with Winter Jam, not him.


“It’s like this every year,” he said grimly.


Winter Jam’s no-ticket-required business plan doesn’t work anymore. What good is it to create an atmosphere conducive to frustration and dissatisfaction?


The argument for not selling advanced, reserved tickets is that it would raise the price due to processing fees. I know I’m not the only one who would be more than willing to pay $20 or more for a guaranteed seat, complete with section number and seat number. Selling tickets would also allow youth groups to buy a block of seats together. I can’t imagine what it must be like searching for seats with a large group. Tickets would also eliminate the situation of people driving several hours to a show, paying for parking, waiting in line, only to be told they can’t come in.


Reserved seating would also greatly reduce the stress of the venue staff. Ushers wouldn’t have to deal with frustrated patrons, like myself.


And I understand that if I want guaranteed entrance and good seat, I can pay $50 to be part of Jam Nation. That seems deceptive to me—to say that’s just $10 at the door, but if you want to make sure you get in, you need to pay $50.


If Winter Jam doesn’t change its business plan and sell advanced, reserved seating, they’re going to see a decline in attendance because those who’ve had a bad experience (like myself) won’t go again, and they’ll tell others who ask that it’s just not worth the hassle and stress.



Pray for the Christian Music Scene in Chattanooga

posted Jan 5, 2012, 3:30 PM by Sarah Brehm

As many of you are aware, Club Fathom/Mosaic is once again in the news. You can read my take on the whole situation at the link below. If you have any questions, please feel free to send me an email at info@fortechattanooga.com
Club Fathom started out as a good thing, but over the years, the leadership at Mosaic seems to have lost their way. Because of the situatution, The Warehouse has made the decision to move from 412 Market Street. They are currently looking for a new place. Pray for Mosaic/Fathom. Pray for The Warehouse. Pray for Chattanooga.
-Sarah Brehm

I Am Second

posted Oct 5, 2011, 12:21 PM by Sarah Brehm

After a brief walk on the beach, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With my finger I wrote two sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the sand off my pants, took one last glance at my message, then walked away…


I think for most of my life I’ve been afraid to be who I am, to embrace my quirkiness and be proud of the person God made me. This insecurity started in middle school, those wonderfully awkward years where everyone was figuring out who he/she was while trying to cope with puberty.


I had discovered me—I was a dork who loved Christian rock music—but was unable to really express this. Sure my friends all knew I was obsessed with Skillet and other bands—I had an argument with my friend Claire during algebra class in eighth grade over who was better, NSYNC or P.O.D.? (Don’t worry, I soon converted her to Pillar and Relient K.) But what I liked wasn’t the mainstream, wasn’t the popular thing to like—and not just with Christian rock. I was the girl who read Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter; who watched Farscape every Friday night after the football game; who had an obsession with Orlando Bloom; who dressed up as Queen Amidala from Star Wars during homecoming week; who sat in the back of class writing stories of her own. I knew that, for the most part, my classmates labeled me the awkward weird girl.


This was also the time that most of my friends started getting boyfriends. Of course, they never lasted long—anywhere from a few days to a few months. Boyfriends came and went at the lunch table. And I was very much aware that no boy was coming to sit with me.


So through the end of middle school and much of high school I kind of lived a duel life—I started going to lots of concerts—I went to my first Skillet concert for my 14th birthday. They were really my “gateway band.” Through them I discovered many more bands including Pillar and Justifide and Kutless and tobyMac and the list goes on. And my dad and I started running sound at Club Fathom. There was something so exciting about watching bands set up, listening to sound checks, and hearing drum tracks to your favorite bands before you knew they were in the studio. Concerts were such a blast! I could be myself and no one would care.


But while at school and church my self-perception was sliding downward. My insecurities blossomed into the belief that I was unattractive. I would stare at myself in the mirror and dream that my body resembled the idealized image of beauty seen in movies and television. For my friends, boyfriends continued to come and go. I pretended that it didn’t bother me, that I didn’t care, but deep down, every time my friends talked about dates and holding hands and first kisses, I couldn’t help but feel I was getting left behind. I felt like no one cared about me. I was fading.


I spent my 17th birthday in the doctor’s office listening to him diagnose me with depression. Depression drained the life out of me. Each negative thought felt like a weight being attached to me—the more I had the harder it was to stand. Trying to get rid of the negative thoughts was a challenge I usually never won.


With medication I slowly got better. I genuinely had fun my senior year, and I cared less about trying to seek approval through a boyfriend, mainly because I figured in college, along with a degree and a job, I’d also acquire my “Mrs.”


I did have fun in college. I moved to Wilmington, North Carolina and lived ten minutes from the beach! I made friends. I made decent grades. I ran through sprinklers at one in the morning and suffered epic sunburns from lazy beach naps. Recognizing that I had depression, anytime a negative thought tried to take over, I would cope with it and move on.


But towards the end of my junior year and beginning of my senior year panic started to slowly rise in me each day. Graduation was looming in my near future, and I hadn’t the slightest idea of what I was going to do on the day after. All my life, school had been my structure—I knew what the future held—more school. But the day after graduation was a big, dark, empty void. What was I going to do with my life? How was I going to support myself? I started to regret going for a degree in creative writing—what kind of job was I going to get with that?


Along with this other unhealthy thoughts returned. The voice in my head reminded me that I still hadn’t had a boyfriend. I concluded something must be wrong with me. Or maybe I was wearing an invisibility cloak. I cried myself to sleep several times with images of me, old and alone, passing by. It didn’t help either that I have a relative who constantly asked me where my wedding ring was. He told me one time: “Your parents are paying all this money for you to go to college. The least you could do is find a husband.” I played it off, but his words stung—I felt like a failure.


I started to get angry with God. I was uncertain of my purpose, and felt I had no value, no worth. Depression clawed its way into my psyche with its negative, vile comments. It turned into a vicious cycle that spiraled downward. I felt down about myself, which I coped with by laying around watching television and doing nothing. The lack of activity gave the voice in my head ample time to defeat me, which made me not want to do anything. And repeat.


The proverbial straw that broke my back happened on Halloween. I got talked into going to a party, but promised myself I would only have two drinks. Well, after four whiskey and cokes, I was drunk. And when I realized I was drunk, I got so mad at myself. No one had told me to drink more; no one pressured me into it. It was my decision to get another and another and another knowing the consequences.


When my roommates and I left the party I climbed into the backseat and burst into tears. At that moment I hated myself, and all I could think about were Paul’s words in Romans: “I want to do what is good, but I don’t. I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway.” (Romans 7:19)


A few days later the stagnation and frustration were boiling inside me. I went to the beach to take a walk. As I wandered the beach, listening to the waves crashing and watching the few surfers who braced the cold water I tried to remember the last time I was happy, genuinely happy, and I immediately thought of a Skillet concert I had attended the previous spring. Then I went back to high school to the time I spent at Club Fathom hanging out with bands (when I had the nerve to talk to them) and pushing faders on the sound board. Concerts and music were what made me happy. But how was going to concerts supposed to be my purpose?


After a brief walk, I sunk onto my knees in the sand. With my finger I wrote two sentences in the sand: What do You want me to do? I am in Your hands. I stood, wiped the sand off my pants, took one last glance at my message, then walked away.


On my drive back to my apartment, I had the local Christian rock radio station on. A commercial came of for a venue called the Lampstand Lightclub. They were looking for volunteers, and their next show was in a few days. My palm smacked my forehead. “Okay God,” I said. “I get it.”


Long story short, I went to the venue, which was at a local church and witnessed a fight. After one more show, the venue called it quits. But going to that one show re-ignited my joy. During my final five months of college, I stopped worrying about what people would think and dressed like a rock star, combat boots and all! I saw Skillet at home in Chattanooga, dragged my roommate Heather to a bar about an a hour away from Wilmington to see Decyfer Down, and drove to Raleigh with my other roommate, Ashlea to rock out to The Letter Black, RED, and Skillet. I was going to concerts again, and I loved it.


And well, it’s been almost two years since that walk on the beach and what am I doing? I run a website called Forte Chattanooga that focuses on the local Christian music scene here in Chattanooga. I get to go to concerts and review shows. I get to interview the local bands and talk to touring bands. The site is slowing gaining popularity. Bands have started asking me to be featured on the site, and at one show, I was snapping pictures and this person just turned to me and asked, “Are you the lady from Forte?”


And I fell like this is what I’m supposed to do, working to promote the music I love. This doesn’t mean that things are suddenly easier. I still have days were I have doubts and I worry about the future. But I just trust God and open my eyes to any opportunities available to further my website and my dream. The most important part in all this: I am happy! I have finally accepted who God has made me, and I am full of joy.


My dad always states that there are three important things to do (1) Love God. (2) Love others. (3) Love yourself. The third is the hardest, but you can only accomplish the other two when you truly learn to love yourself. When you’re happy with yourself, with who you are, with the person God created you to be, everything else just falls into place.


My name is Sarah Brehm, and I am second.
For more information on I Am Second, check out www.iamsecond.com
 Me and my friend Claire with Jeremy Camp (2003)
 Me and Claire with Rob Beckley, lead singer of Pillar (2002)
 Me and Justifide (2003)
 Me and the boys of The Benjamin Gate (2002)
 Me and Skillet (2006)
Me and Ben Kasica of Skillet (2010)
Me and Brian Head Welch (2011)
Me and Skillet (2011)

Youtube isn't the Place for...

posted Sep 22, 2011, 9:34 AM by Sarah Brehm   [ updated Sep 22, 2011, 9:36 AM ]

… a theological debate. It seems like every time I get on Youtube to watch a music video by a Christian band or artist, the comments section is filled with users arguing about Christianity. There are variations of the type of debate. The most common is the argument over the existence of God. These arguments I just glance over because anyone who posts things like “God doesn’t exist” on a Christian band’s music videos is only trying to get a rise out of someone who will respond to him/her. Don’t give this person the satisfaction of a response.


But then there is one type of debate that makes me want to throw things and gets my blood boiling. You know the argument well—the one where Christians claim Christian rock is evil and displeasing to God!


I was watching some Stryper music videos the other day and a video titled “Stryper Preaches the Gospel” popped up on the related videos. So I clicked on it; it was a video of Stryper from 1986 simply explaining what they do—that the felt called to write metal songs with Christian themes. Then I scrolled to the comments and realized the person who uploaded this video only wanted to attack anyone who commented positively on it, saying that rock music is evil. He wasn’t listening to logic be other users and basically challenged anyone to use Scripture to defend rock music. Unfortunately I decided to click on his Youtube account to see what else he uploaded. He had numerous videos about how popular Christian bands were doing satan’s work.


By this point I was viciously angry, and I should have stopped watching videos. But then I saw more videos on the related side bar about how evil Christian rock is, and for some reason I clicked on these as well. The usually arguments: Christian rock is mimicking the world; we’re supposed to be separate. Christian artists perform in night clubs on Saturday night, and then sing in Church on Sunday; gasp!


Unfortunately nothing beneficial could come out of me responding to any of these videos. It would only further anger me, and give a platform for the user to try to prove to me that I’m wrong.


I think a lot of people will be shocked when they get to Heaven and see a rock arena.




A Blog within a Blog: Blog-ception!

posted Sep 21, 2011, 2:27 PM by Sarah Brehm

So I've decided to start an editor's blog here. Sometimes I have thoughts and things I want to write about, but don't feel they're important enough to create a new article for. Therefore, this will be me rambling about things, like trying to start up a business, a book I'm reading, or just a thought I've had. Hopefully you'll enjoy reading!
Today I met with business counselors to discuss the next steps I need to take to officially have Forte Chattanooga as a business. It was fun to talk about my ideas and get advice. Not many people who have blogs have sought business help, but I feel it's time to take this beyond just being a hobby. These are the things I'm going to work on over the next week:
    1. Getting a business license
    2. Getting the site copyrighted
    3. Starting up a business bank account
If you are interested in advertising with Forte Chattanooga's special print edition, you can look at the advertising kit here:Media Kit. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to email me at info@fortechattanooga.com with Advertising as the subject.
Until next time,

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