Sanctus Real, The Afters, Mainstay
4/23/06, at Carman-Ainsworth High School, Flint, MI
Dove Award-winning band Sanctus Real released their third major label album,
The Face Of Love, only weeks ago. Even before
the record hit shelves, the band found themselves on the touring circuit in support of the disc
with new artists The Afters and Mainstay in tow. With the excitement built up from the promotion of
both the tour and project of the same title, I was anxious to head to this concert as soon as it
came to a nearby city.
Before Sanctus Real could even think about taking the stage, a little time had to be given to
the evening's two opening bands. First up was one of BEC Records' latest artists to appear on the
music scene, Mainstay. This Minnesota-based ensemble performed a six-song set
filled with tunes from their debut Well Meaning
Fiction. "This Could Be," "Down Silver Lake," and "Take Away" were all strong rock numbers
that prepared the concertgoers for what was yet to come.
Thirty minutes and a brief set change later, newcomers The Afters were
prepared to begin their time slot. Though they may still be considered a "new" band, The Afters
have had an incredible first year- a Dove Award for "New Artist of the Year," major promotions
featuring their song "Beautiful Love," and an upcoming live appearance on MTV. After completing
their eight-song set, it wasn't hard to see why. This band puts on quite the live show and isn't
afraid to rock. "You" may have been the first hit single from I Wish We All Could Win
but "Someday" and "All That I Am" carry the same potential to reach great heights. With these
numerous accomplishments under their belt, I believe it is safe to say we will be hearing much
more from The Afters in the future.
Given the excellent reviews of The Face of Love, I was expecting Sanctus Real to offer
a good live performance. That's where I was wrong- the members of Sanctus Real put on a great live
show, displaying their ability to compete with the best of the rockers that Christian music has
to offer. The band got things started with the psychedelic feel of "Everything About You," followed by a
flashback to the early days of "Say It Loud." Quickly progressing from song to song, "We're Trying" was
next on the set list. Those who caught Sanctus Real on Audio Adrenaline's Until My Heart Caves In Tour
last fall may remember this tune when it was debuted well before The Face of Love was
released. Several other tracks from this recent project ensued such as the divorce-themed "Don't
Give Up" (preceded by a brief, yet heartfelt cry from lead singer Matt Hammitt for this generation
to re-examine their definition of love) and the worshipful "The Face of Love."
Though Sanctus Real took advantage of their headlining tour to introduce new material, they
didn't forsake the favorites of the band's sophomore outing Fight The Tide.
Acoustic-driven "Things Like You" was perfectly slotted in shortly before the best-liked "The
Fight Song." The powerful guitar riffs and pounding drumbeats of "Alone" were an excellent way to
build the excitement for the upcoming encore. After a few minutes of dimmed lights and the cheer
of "One more song!" coming from the venue, Sanctus Real reappeared on stage. Instead of the
typical rockstar return one may have expected, drummer Mark Graalman approached the front of the
stage with his young son Benjamin curious to see if the audience was ready for "an amazing drum
solo." Graalman marched back to his drum kit and helped Benjamin (who is about a year old) hit a
few beats. Once Graalman's son was taken from the stage, Hammitt took a moment to proudly share
about his new daughter before speaking about the experiences that led to the writing of their
latest single "I'm Not Alright." This song was one of the best executed of the evening, showing a
perfect balance of blunt honesty in the lyrics and the band's impressive musical abilities.
"Closer" followed right behind, finishing Sanctus Real's worthy live show.
With Sanctus Real's popular studio projects and heavy pull on the radio, this band is becoming
one of the leading forces in Christian rock today. Need further proof? Check out what's left of
The Face of Love Tour. Here you will find all the evidence you need.
-- Lauren Summerford, 4/28/06