Audio Adrenaline, TobyMac, Kutless, Hawk Nelson|
4/3/05, Community Arts Center, Williamsport, PA
When travelling to see a show from any distance, there are several things to keep in mind before
you leave your home. For one, make sure you have good directions to the show's venue. If you get on
the turnpike and are headed in the wrong direction, you most likely won't be able to just get off
and right back on in the right direction without having to drive awhile to the next exit and having to pay a toll. Then make
sure you don't do that on the way home either. Secondly, if you know ahead of time that your distance
is a good two hours and more, you should really double check the evening's start time well in advance.
Finally, leave plenty of time to get there, with a cushion, leaving room for error.
Well, if you haven't picked up on it yet from the opening paragraph, we hit quite a few snags
on the way to the April 3rd date of the Spring Diverse City Worldwide Tour. Wrong turns and getting
a late start resulted in our arrival an hour after the show began. When we got there, Kutless had just
finished playing (sorry guys!) and some Community Arts Center staff informed us that Hawk Nelson never
even made it to the show due to their van breaking down. We made our way through the old-fashioned
theater of the Community Arts Center and found our seats before the evening's next set.
We'd gotten there just in time for TobyMac and his expansive entourage to grace
the stage. The aptly chosen opening "Let's Get This Party Started" seemed to just be the fuse to
light the explosive set that unfolded. A quick refrain of "Where My Freaks At?" lead into
"Somebody's Watching Me" and kept the set moving swiftly with "Diverse City." Nirva Dorsaint compliments
McKeehan nicely with her beautiful vocals while DJ Maj offers his deejay talents and a full live
band including dancers and background vocalists round out the posse quite well. And a TobyMac show
is about as far removed from the label "boring" as you can probably possibly get. There's usually so
much happening on stage it's nearly overwhelming. Toby's hit pop/rock single "Gone" was an evening
highlight that lead to "Hey Now," and "J Train." The heavy guitar-driven "Yours" was slowed down
considerably for a more worship-friendly format before picking up to its normal pace. The song climaxes
when Tim faces off with Nirva in a guitar vs. vocals match. "Yours" was followed-up by the Passion Of
The Christ-inspired "Slam," the groovy "Love Is In The House," and "Atmosphere." Toby surprised
the audience by even tossing in the dc Talk original "My Will" from the Exodus worship project
and dc T's cover of Charlie Peacock's "In The Light." And what TobyMac show would be complete without
his montage of classic covers? An old school medley including "Play That Funky Music," "Rollercoaster,"
and "We Are Family" preceded the raucous "Catchafire (Whoopsi Daisy)," which featured unique lighting effects
that similuated fires lit across the stage. The band finished their extensive set with "Extreme Days."
After seeing a TobyMac show, you know it's a tough act to follow. However, after seeing Audio Adrenaline
live a number of times over the past decade, I know if any act can, it's definitely them. When intermission
ended and the stage lights flickered on, a large white sheet appeared in front of the stage. Three
enormous shadows filled the covering as the Audio boys cranked up their opening song "Clap Your Hands"
from their pending Summer release Until My Heart Caves In. A real crowd pleaser, the song was a
great way to kick off the evening. With the sheet sucked up above the stage, the band was revealed to finish
"Clap Your Hands" and quickly move into "Mighty Good Leader." Much of Audio's set felt somewhat
more rushed than usual, as the guys quickly jumped right into "Big House," which lead frontman
Mark Stuart to wade through the audience and encourage participation. "Worldwide One" which was the band's
opening number throughout the 2003 and 2004 tours followed, as well as the fun "Dirty" and the inspirational
"Hands & Feet." The set's highlight, however, was indeed the classic Audio Adrenaline rocker "We're A Band"
that featured an appearance by TobyMac and his gang, aiding AudioA in performing the track (and
even had Toby singing verses from the dc Talk favorite "Jesus Freak"). After the more delicate
songs "Leaving 99" and "Ocean Floor," which were prefaced by an irregularly brief word from bassist
Will McGinniss, the band invited audience members on stage to express their utmost silliness on
"Beautiful." Finally, the rock quartet closed their eleven-song set with "Get Down" from their 1999
release Underdog and left the stage, prompting Stuart to inform the crowd they've run out of time.
Despite our belated entrance and unfortunate experience of only seeing half of the show,
I witnessed enough to realize this is easily one of the hottest tours put together this year.
TobyMac and Audio Adrenaline are fine performers with their hearts set strongly in the right places.
And with youth-oriented rock acts like Hawk Nelson and Kutless, there really is no excuse for
missing this tour. Catch the Diverse City Worldwide Tour this Spring if you get the chance to!
-- John DiBiase, 4/3/05