For nearly three years, the band Pillar has been relatively silent, leading to speculation that the successful Christian rock band had finally come to an end. But a sudden update to Pillar’s Facebook and Youtube on October 27, ignited fans into a frenzy, not only because it revealed a new album was in progress, but because the lineup reunites Rob Beckley, Noah Henson, Michael ‘Kalel’ Wittig, and Lester Estelle Jr., the group from Pillar’s most booming years.
Beckley and Wittig started Pillar in 1998 with several friends. After releasing two independent albums, Metamorphosis and Original Superman, Pillar signed to Flicker Records. The album Above was released in 2000, and the track “Open Your Eyes” won a Dove Award in 2001 for Hard Music Song of the Year.
Henson, known for his iconic dreadlocks and masterful guitar-work joined Pillar in 2002, the same year Fireproof came out. Not long after its release, Estelle Jr. joined. Extensive touring with Skillet on the Alien Youth Tour contributed to Pillar’s fast rise in popularity. Fireproof sold over 300,000 copies and received a Dove Award for Hard Music Album of the Year, winning over Demon Hunter’s self-titled album and Project 86’s Truthless Heroes.
In 2004 Pillar released Where Do We Go From Here. It had multiple hit singles, including “Bring Me Down” and “Frontline” and also received a Dove Award nomination for Rock Album of the Year.
The Reckoning came out in 2006, debuting at number 70 on the billboard top 200, and giving the band its first Grammy nomination for Best Rock or Rap Gospel Album. This was followed by For the Love of the Game in 2008, which saw more success and more Dove Award nominations. It was after this album that Estelle Jr. and Wittig stepped out of Pillar to pursue other things and spend time with family.
Pillar’s most recent album, Confessions came out in September 2009, receiving yet another Dove Award nomination. Interesting fact: Joe Rickard, now the drummer for RED, recorded all the drum tracks for this album.
As Pillar updates and tour dates slowed down, and eventually came to an end, it seemed that Pillar had closed this rock and roll chapter.
But it seems that God had other plans.
“This is our official announcement to you guys, our fans,” says Beckley in the video update released last month. “We are going to put another Pillar record out with the four members that you know and love.
“Just so you guys know, our hearts have been just completely restored as friends and with our relationship with God and just where we are right now. We are all in great places, and we are incredibly thankful where we are. Thank you to the fans for giving us this time to be able to regroup and solidify our lives to be better husbands, to be better fathers, and to be better people.
“And now it’s all on you guys to go conquer the world just like the Underground Army that you were in 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006—all those years that we were able to do this. It’s time to reenlist and go do this!”
And just like that, Pillar’s back!
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos by: Sarah Brehm
It was nearly 2 in the morning, and a group of about ten fans stood next to a chainlink fence that separated us from MUTEMATH’s tour bus. Several of us had been at the show at the Tabernacle in Atlanta back in March; several already have tickets to see MUTEMATH in Knoxville on October 21. For some it was their first time experiencing a MUTEMATH concert; for veteran fans, this was concert number 5 or 6. My friend who was waiting with me has a bucket-list goal of seeing them live 25 times. One woman had a gorgeous drawing of the band that she wanted to give them (plus one for herself that she wanted signed).
Guitarist Todd Gummerman saw us fans huddled in the cold and came over to sign posters and tickets, take pictures, and talk to us. When he left us he promised to see if he could get any of the other band members to come say hello.
So we waited. And waited. Eventually drummer Darren King came out to greet us. “Sorry I’m in my pajamas,” he said. He was just as nice as Gummerman, and extremely appreciative of us fans. “Roy [Mitchell-Cardenas, bassist] is sick right now, and Paul [Meany, lead vocalist] is probably Skyping with his daughter,” said King as he left us.
Us fans said farewell to each other. If I make it up to the Knoxville show I have a feeling I’ll see some familiar faces waiting outside the bus again.
Why were we willing to wait an hour-and-a-half in the cold for a chance to talk to the band? Because MUTEMATH is just that incredible. Also, they seem to be nice people who love what they do.
The show started at Track 29 in Chattanooga with Meany, Gummerman, King, and Mitchell-Cardenas parading through the crowd to the stage. To the crowd’s cheers, King walked to his drum set, put his headphones on and duct-taped it to his head to keep the headphones from falling off.
MUTEMATH’s extensive set included a variety of songs spanning their three albums, MUTEMATH, Armistice, and Odd Soul, and the Reset EP. They performed for two hours without a break, something that few headliner bands do anymore. Being on the front row (next to a speaker—glad I had earplugs!), was one of the most fun experiences I’ve had a concert. When Meany jumped onto the LED-covered inflatable mattress to crowd surf (while continuing to sing), the mattress came back right over top of me. I got covered in confetti while Meany stood on a platform in the middle of the crowd. And I danced the night away to amazing music.
There really is no way to properly describe a MUTEMATH concert; it’s just something you have to experience. It is true what they say, the only way to top a MUTEMATH concert is with another MUTEMATH concert.
…perhaps I’ll go up to Knoxville in a few days because I'm already eager to see them again!
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos and video by: Sarah Brehm
Its no wonder the Christian rock band Kutless has now been around over 12 years. They have several rock albums and two amazing worship projects . This is only the second time I've been blessed enough to see them live, but I've been a fan for years. The incredible thing about this band is their ability to bring straight-up power chord rock and then smoothy transition into powerful worship and actually lead the audience into an encounter with our God. John Michah Sumerall does an amazing job sharing what he sees God doing in his life and spends more time than most talking about his personal relationship with Christ and praying wifh the crowd. They performed several songs from their newest album, Believer, as well as their first radio release, "Your Touch" from their self-titled debut album, and ended up with with some corporate worship time and some tunes from Strong Tower. A great First night at ichthus 2012.
Family Force 5:
Family Force 5 killed it at the main stage. Definitely one of the most unique and original groups at the festival. A perfect blend of rock, rap, and originality. All age groups gatheded and danced and grooved with them. A solid drum beat and a mobil synth twistin' and dubbin' the riffs. A true crowd pleaser - a definite do-not-miss no matter what genre you like. They claim they are praising God in a weird way and they tottally killed it! They are for sure the most musically and stylistically creative bands I have ever seen. With nicnames like Fatty and Crouton how can you go wrong? If you have a chance to see this band do not miss it!
The crowd was sprayed with a water hose as MyChildren MyBride took the stage in a constant wall of motion dresssd in solid black. Front-man Matthew Hasting commanded the pit with brutal authority, calling out the two step in the breakdowns - they followed his every command like loyal disciples. MyChildren MyBride fans are definitely among the most loyal of the festival goers. Their timing was perfect, and they left no room for error. MyChildren MyBride is pure hardcore, and they mean business. Another great show in front of a growing hardcore community at the Ichthus Festival
Words by: Greg Kraft
When Aaron Gillespie roared out from behind the kit of the christian hardcore band Underoath many of us responded with a gasp. However after seeing his new band, The Almost, I realized he had to have another avenue to explore his other amazing talents - showing off his guitar and vocal skills and sharing his heart for Jesus Christ . The five-piece band delivered a perfect performance of their songs from their new album, reported to be titled Fear Inside Our Bones, as well as stuff from there Monster Monster and Southern Weather. They also brought a ramped up cover of Tom Petty's "Free Fallin'" that was alot of fun. Overall a great show from an amazing artist.
Words by: Greg Kraft
Photo by: Greg Kraft
When I found out that POD was going to be in Nashville, I immediately bought tickets; the fact that RED, Love and Death, and Icon for Hire were also playing was just a wonderfully added bonus!
POD reached mainstream success with their third studio album, The Fundamental Elements of Southtown (1999). The rap/rock single “Rock the Party” exploded across rock radio and MTV. Their fourth studio album, Satellite (2001) featured hit singles “Alive” and “Youth of the Nation.”
It was the Satellite album that I remember listening to over and over again when it came out. I even had a heated argument with my friend over who was better, POD or N*SYNC—the music video for “Alive” had just beaten out “Pop” by N*SYNC for the number one spot on TRL and I was gloating (Don’t worry, I eventually converted her to rock!).
But even though all of that was a decade ago (I’m getting old!), I had never seen POD in concert, so I was extremely excited as I travelled up interstate 24 from Chattanooga to Nashville. I was finally going to see Christian rock legends POD!
Icon for Hire, out of Decatur, Illinois, kicked off the show, performing songs from their debut Tooth & Nail album, Scripted. Their in-your-face pop/rock sound is as bold as front-woman Ariel’s hot pink hair and hand-made rockin’ clothes (check out her ETSY page here:
http://www.etsy.com/shop/CustomCatastrophes). Icon of Hire’s positive lyrics encourage listeners to get over their past and be proud of who they are, to stand up and “Make a Move.” During the song “Up in Flames” the track transitioned to “Jump Around” by House of Pain. Ariel and guitarist Shawn Jump divided the crowd in half to see which side could jump the craziest—Ariel’s side won! Their set ended with hit single “Make a Move.”
Love and Death, Brian Head Welch’s new band took the stage next. Fans of Korn will be pleased to hear the musical direction that Love and Death is taking with their new EP Chemicals. Heavy, melodic and slightly dark, Love and Death’s sound is fairly unique in the Christian realm. The band members’ affinity for dark make-up and creepy contacts have been a bit of a controversy in the Christian scene. But everyone puts on a costume when they get out of bed—I dress up in outfits to go to concerts that I wouldn’t wear anywhere else. Instead of focusing on their look, pay attention to their deeply honest lyrics about struggles and trying to live for God.
RED performed next. This is the third time I’ve seen RED in a year, and their concerts never get boring. They started their set with “Feed the Machine” quickly followed by “The Outside” both from Until We Have Faces (2011). For me, seeing RED live has become very much of a worship experience. Songs like “Let Go,” “Already Over,” and “Not Alone” have such strong spiritual lyrics that before I realize it I’m singing to God. RED played a variety of songs spanning their three studio albums including “Faceless,” “Confession,” “Shadows,” “Death of Me,” and “Breathe into Me.” The crowd loved every minute of it.
And then, the highlight of the night, POD walked onto the stage. During the first song, “Boom,” lead singer Sonny Sandoval climbed out into the crowd and declared, “If you’re going to just stand around go to the back door!” POD played a assortment songs including “Set if Off,” “Southtown,” “Without Jah, Nothin’,” and “Youth of the Nation.” They played several new songs including, “Murdered Love,” “On Fire,” and “Lost in Forever,” promoting the new album Murdered Love, set to be released on July 10—and I cannot wait! The songs are classic POD—rock, rap, metal, all mixed together with a hint of maturity that only comes from writing and performing music for as long as POD has. They ended the night with “Alive” and then Sonny got the crowd to chant “Love is what I got, I said remember that.”
The one disappointment was the crowd. The audience seemed kind of dead. I moved toward the back for POD because I expected the crowd to get rowdy—while I love to jump and dance around, I didn’t want to get hit by a flying elbow. But, despite Sonny’s efforts to energize the several hundred fans into a frenzy, the crowd just wasn’t getting into it like I expected. And seconds after POD finished, a majority of the crowd turned around and left, instead of waiting around and trying to convince POD to come out for an encore!
Overall, the night was great! I got back to Chattanooga at 3:45 a.m., but it was totally worth it!
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos and videos by: Sarah Brehm, unless otherwise noted
Celebration Church’s auditorium was standing-room only at the stage with several rows of cushioned seats in the back. In other words, the teens were in standing, and all the parents and youth pastors were watching purses and coats while sitting down!
I got there late and missed most of opening act Kiros, a rock band out of Calgary, Alberta, Canada. They played songs from their new album Lay Your Weapons Down, which came out on February 7. Lead vocalist Barry Mackichan encouraged the crowd to come back their merch table after their set—the band would be giving out free Canadian high fives!
Tooth & Nail freshman band Nine Lashes performed a few songs from their debut album, World We View, which was released on Valentine’s Day, including “Anthem of the Lonely,” “Intervention,” and “Get Back.” Nine Lashes is great live. I highly recommend checking them out.
I’ll admit, I haven’t followed Thousand Foot Krutch much over the years, but I was impressed with how many songs they performed that I was familiar with. I also regret not following them because TFK only seems to have gotten better and better. Devoted fans wore the iconic white mask that was featured on the cover of Welcome to the Masquerade.
They rocked old-school style with “Rawkfist” which came out when I was in high school. When I realized the album Phenomenon was released nearly 10 years ago, it made me feel old!
The moshing really picked up during TFK’s set which included new songs “The End is Where We Begin,” and “Let the Sparks Fly.” The new album drips April 17 and will be sure to delight fans.
Up until the transition from TFK to RED, the set changes were some of the fastest I’ve seen, but it seemed to take forever to set the stage for RED—perhaps something wasn’t working like it should and the roadies were scrambling as fast as they could. But for those of us in the audience, the wait dragged on as we listened to dramatic orchestral/electronic music.
RED started their set with their two heaviest songs, “Feed the Machine” and “The Outside,” both from the highly acclaimed Until We Have Faces album that came out last year.
They performed a variety of songs spanning their three albums, including “Let Go,” “Lie to Me,” “Not Alone,” and “Confession.”
During “Shadows” Michael Barnes jumped into the crowd to try to get a circle pit going—which fans have aptly named the “washing machine.” Unfortunately, a few people tripped and it ended being a massive pile-up of confused teenagers. Hopefully no one was hurt!
After ending their set with “Death of Me,” RED encored with “Pieces” and their most popular single “Breathe into Me.”
The REDvolution tour is going to be hard to beat for my favorite concert of 2012.
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos and Videos by: Sarah Brehm
This year’s Winter Jam Tour, held in a nearly sold-out McKenzie Arena ended with the wildly popular Christian rock band Skillet. Opening acts included We As Human, Group 1 Crew (I ran into them during lunch at The Terminal), Kari Jobe, Peter Furler, Sanctus Real, and Building 429. I don’t typically listened to the Contemporary genre, but it was fun listening to these groups, singing along to the praise songs I knew, and watching fans joyously dance around. However, it was abundantly clear that the majority of the young crowd was there for Skillet.
Cellist Tate Olsen and violinist Jonathan Chu walked onto the stage in white tuxes and masks. They stood in front of a black curtain hiding the rest of the stage For a minute their stringed instruments tickled the ears of the audience, increasing the excitement. As Jen Ledger hit her drums, flames shot into the air behind her. (From my seat, which was almost completely behind the stage, I could feel the heat of the pyro!) The crowd roared! The black curtain fell, and frontman John Cooper, along with his wife Korey, and guitarist Seth Morrison, danced around the extremely large stage. Skillet opened with “Whispers in the Dark” followed by “Comatose,” both from Comatose (2006).
“Did you know that when all of us here wake up in the morning,” said John Cooper during the intro of “Awake and Alive” from Awake (2009), “that there is a war going on. I’m not talking about Iraq. I’m not talking about Afghanistan. Tonight, I am talking about a war for your souls.” As he spoke, the music joined him. “And in this war, some people will try to tell you how to live and how to think. They’ll tell you what you can and what you cannot believe if you want to fit in. I don’t know about you, but I am tired of being told what to do. I am not ashamed of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is the power of God to salvation. So here’s my question for all of you: Who cares what they say? Because you are awake and alive!”
This speech gives me chills every time.
At the beginning of the song “Hero” Jen’s drum riser rolled forward onto a wide catwalk, much to the amusement of the audience. During the song, her drum platform rose high into the air and began to spin! Korey and Seth also stood on rising platforms at the end of the catwalk.
Skillet ended the night with the smash hit “Rebirthing.” Pyrotechnics, moving platforms, and rock music with a message are what Skillet is all about, and their shows are never a disappointment.
Supposedly Skillet is taking a break from touring this summer (except for summer festivals) to work on their highly anticipated new album.
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos and Video by: Sarah Brehm
It’s been just over a month since an incident in downtown Chattanooga resulted in the unintended closure of The Warehouse. Since then, owner Casey Whitaker and staff have been busy. By mid-January, The Warehouse had started a Kickstarter fundraiser with a lofty goal—raise $10,000. But here was the catch, if the goal was not reached by the deadline, then The Warehouse would receive none of the money already raised, an all-or-nothing situation. For a month, fans anxiously watched the amount raised slowly increase, but that goal seemed too far away. In the final days of the fundraiser, the money poured in, and when the deadline hit on February 11, The Warehouse had a total of $12,225!
But the love for The Warehouse hasn’t stopped there. The idea for a benefit show emerged on Facebook. Blake Ross, drummer for Speakeasy and frontman for Between Two Seas, saw people suggesting the idea and decided to act on it. Before he even had a place booked, he had several bands on board with the idea. Alex Jarvis, of Axiom, talked to his pastor at Journey Church in Hixson about hosting the event. Thus, on the night of February 11, bands and fans of the Warehouse showed up to hang out together. None of the bands performing that night were paid. Instead, the $10.00 cover charge went right into the pockets of The Warehouse.
“Anytime we’ve been able to help them out,” says Blake, “we’ve jumped to it because they’re our bros. They’re incredibly nice people—they’re as good as good can get, honestly.”
“We’ve known Casey for about two years now,” says Tripp Howell, lead vocalist for the electronic rock band Oaklynn. “Every time we’re [at The Warehouse], it’s always a good time. Those guys are some of my best friends. It’s more than just a place to play a show. You feel like family with all those guys. Even as a band, the relationship is family-oriented. You pull up and they give you a big hug—at every show!”
Even though The Warehouse has gotten a reputation for hosting hardcore shows, Oaklynn says they love the people in the hardcore scene, mainly because the audience isn’t afraid to dance to their catchy pop-rock music.
Brandon Ray, the lead vocalist of hardcore band Axiom, explains why a place like The Warehouse is important: “It’s something better to do than what most kids get themselves into these days. It keeps them out of trouble. It keeps them entertained. They have somewhere to go if they have something going wrong at home or school or at work. It’s just a place to be free, to be yourself, to be with people you care about it. It’s almost like a family, honestly”
Alex added, “The first time I ever went [to the Warehouse] was actually with our last drummer. Some dude he knew was playing a show, so I just went. And I kept going. It felt like a good place to me.”
Alex Preavett, of Gateway 2 Nowhere, didn’t play the benefit show, but wanted to share his first experience at The Warehouse: “We just finished seventh grade. I really didn’t know what to expect about it. When I got there, I felt very welcome and was definitely show some of God’s love. Everyone there was supportive to every band, and the friendly atmosphere made me come back.”
The Warehouse isn’t just positively affecting the bands that play there. “I used to be in bands and friends with a lot of bands that played at the Warehouse before I ever started to work there,” says James Black. “Before working at the warehouse I was never a believe or a follower of Christ. I always went to church youth just to hang out with friends. I only knew of God but never accepted him into my life.
“December 18, 2008, my mom passed away. It was one of the hardest things that has ever happened in my life. The next few days and nights I was looked up in my room and stayed away from the world. One day, a friend of mine who was in a band I helped out with ask me to come to a show. Before then I would go to the warehouse only when my friends played and never really got the idea of it being a God loving place.
“After the show I ask to have some one-on-one time with Casey and some of the other staff. It took the love from other people that I didn't really know to spark something in me. After that I felt an energy in the place I've never felt before and with the people there. It took other people talking to me and praying for me and just loving me to open my eyes and see the real God.
“I’ve met so many awesome people and bands and Christ followers at that [the Warehouse]. I’ve fellowship with many kids and opened their eyes, like Casey and the rest did for me years ago. The Warehouse has been one of the greatest things in my life. It is my home away from home. Without it, I don't know where I'd be today.”
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Family Force 5 kicked off their third annual Christmas Pageant Tour on December 6 here in Chattanooga. This year they brought along supporting acts Hawk Nelson and Manafest to bring the Christmas cheer.
The dance party got cranking in The Warehouse with local artist Brand-O. The DJ, Ben Daniels, wore a jacket with green and blue LED tubing that pulsated with the music. Brand-O wore his signature light-up gloves and glasses as he performed “Radio” and “When My Heart Goes Pop” from his debut album When My Heart Goes Pop. He also performed covers of “Good Enough” by The Black-Eyed Peas and “I Workout” by LMFAO.
After a very quick stage switch, Tyler Melashenko and drummer Jason Dobbs rocked it out. If you’ve never seen Tyler Melashenko live, then that should be at the top of your 2012 New Year’s resolution list. He packs so much energy into his performance that it’s impossible not to get swept up into the party and dance along. He played several songs from his self-titled album (which you can currently download for free) including “Love Songs” and my favorite “Get Loud.”
Unfortunately, as Oaklynn set up to play I had to leave. Because of UTC’s brilliant exam schedule, I had to take a final exam at 7:45 that night! However, it was very tempting to skip the exam to stay and party (stay in school kids!).
When I returned to 412 Market Street, the party had moved across the hall into the Mosaic Arts Venue. On the stage were four gigantic letters—H-A-W-K. I had missed Oaklynn and Manafest, but I’m sure they put on an entertaining show. Lead singer Jason Dunn wore a Santa’s hat. They performed several of their hit singles, including “Live Life Loud” and “Crazy Love” as well as Christmas songs, like “Hark the Herald Angels Sing” from the Christmas EP released earlier this year. Hawk Nelson ended their set sporting mullet wigs as they covered Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing”
A black curtain with the Family Force 5 logo went up to set the stage for in secrecy. They opened their set with the explosive hit “Can You Feel it” from Business Up Front/Party in the Back (2006). It amuses me at shows to see all the cameras and cell phones in the air trying to capture their favorite songs to re-live days, weeks, even years later. All the members of FF5 wore black pants, white shirt, black vest (though by the end of the night, most of the vests were gone), and a black top hat—they looked like gentlemen from the 1800s, but one thing’s for certain—top hats need to come back into everyday fashion!
FF5 performed a variety of their totally-rocking, dance-worthy songs including “Supersonic,” “Paycheck,” “Radiator,” “Dance or Die,” “Kountry Gentlemen,” “Dance or Die,” “Love Addict,”—which a bit of “Grandma Got Run Over by a Reindeer” in it—and “Get your Back Off the Wall.” The light show, which included an LED wall, was incredibly impressive and added so much to the exciting performance.
During the encore of “Carol of the Bells” from the Christmas Pageant album, people dressed as a Yeti, a Christmas ornament, and what appeared to be two ears danced onto the stage—only at a Family Force 5 show! “Carol of the Bells” immediately transitioned into the final song—“Ghostride the Whip.”
Overall, it was a wonderfully exciting show—even though I had to take an exam! Hopefully Family Force 5 will stop by in Chattanooga next Christmas!
Words by: Sarah Brehm
Photos by: Sarah Brehm
Video by: Youtube user MandeeMayonnaise