By Amy Sondova Despite the threat of rain and the stifling humidity, crowds flocked to Revelation Generation, a Christian music festival featuring Chris Tomlin, Leeland, Kutless, As I Lay Dying, TobyMac, and Phil Keaggy among others. The annual Labor Day weekend event boasts three stages named after major cities–Nashville, New York, and Philadelphia–as well as inflatables, a large picnic area, a skate park (for professionals only), food vendors, on a large farm.
As in all music-minded festivals, the highlight of this festival was the music itself featuring everyone from Sixpence None the Richer, Matt Wertz, and even the Newsboys. While the New York stage hosted some of the edgier bands like Norma Jean, The Myriad, and As I Lay Dying, Nashville broke it down with singer/songwriters like Phil Keaggy and Bethany Dillon. The New York Stage functioned as a happy medium with the Robbie Seay Band, Kutless, and TobyMac.
The festival’s speakers included the indelible actor Stephen Baldwin, who is most famous for his roles in movies, BioDome and The Usual Suspects among others. Since becoming a Christian several years ago, Baldwin has written several books including the biographical The Unusual Suspect and his latest book, The Death and Life of Gabriel Phillips.
I missed Friday evening’s entertainment, which meant forfeiting a chance to see Leeland, Chris Tomlin, and Mandisa. However, Saturday provided me with plenty of opportunities to listen, photograph, and experience the energy of some of the artists.
After navigating country roads (and getting lost), I made it to the festival in time to catch the last half of The Myriad’s set. While I didn’t actually get close enough to the stage to take any pictures, I can assure you that they sounded just as good live as they do on their debut album. Deciding to take a look around the merchandise tent, I headed across the enormous festival campus. On my trek, I spied Stephen Baldwin out of the corner of my eye, so I did what any true fan of The Usual Suspects would do—I went over and asked him for a picture (for Backseat Writer, of course! I was only thinking of you all!)
The merch/ministry area was disappointing. Not only was the tent crowded with tons of sweaty people, but there were at least four booths featuring pro-life merchandise! It’s an important message; however, it seems to be a little overdone. Besides, the commercialized Jesus junk (A Bread Crumb and Fish t-shirt anyone?), the tent had a couple of good organizations like To Write Love On Her Arms (which was surrounded by throngs of teens buying TWLOHA shirts!) The band merch tent was half-empty and hard to navigate, but I have to give the Robbie Seay Band credit for having the best table display.
While eating lunch, I heard rumblings of Norma Jean in the distance, which was a little hard for my taste, but the guys had incredible stage presence. Finally, I had a chance to check out (and photograph) some of the artists at Revelation Generation.
Not only did I get a chance to listen to the Robbie Seay Band, Kutless, and Skillet, I had a chance to check-out Matt Wertz’s live set, which was excellent. Running about the indie circuit for years, Wertz played songs from his upcoming major label release Under the Summer Sun.
Sixpence None the Richer played during Stephen Baldwin’s talk, so I was conflicted. However, I managed to catch both Baldwin and Leigh Nash, much preferring Nash’s ethereal vocals over Baldwin’s forceful (bordering on obnoxious) message.
Then I caught the jewel of the festival, the man I really wanted to see—Phil Keaggy. Having seen him perform once before, I knew he was not to be missed, and wow, was I right! With ease, Keaggy masterfully strums and finger picks and uses pedals and melodic loops to create a piece of music that amazes the audience. It seems that Keaggy’s made close to 50 albums because he savors the opportunity to play guitar and sing. He’s having such a grand time on stage, it’s impossible not to join in his fun.
All in all, Revelation Generation is a good festival, whose attendance is growing every year. However, the high prices by food vendors (and the inability of attendees to bring in so much as a bottle of water) put a bit of a damper on the fun. Also, including more female and indie artists would add more flair to the festival.
Even more photographs from Revelation Generation…