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Photo by John

Remedy Drive, Skillet, Relient K
6/24/09, Mt. Union, PA at the Agape Farm

Creation Festival East was often a staple Summer event for me (and then, a few years ago, for my wife and I), but last year we ended up taking a year off due to work schedules, so it was almost surreal to be returning to the Agape Farm once again. Wednesday is the official start to Creation Festival East, but for many campers, Tuesday is the day to arrive on the Agape Farm grounds and set up camp. Luckily for those who aren't roughing it, arriving sometime in the early afternoon on Wednesday is a safe way to go.

The musical lineup didn't seem to be the tightest this year, but the fest undoubtedly was off to a really strong start with having Skillet and Relient K headline the first evening. And to only add to the excellence, the fest officially began with first-tmers to Creation Fest, Remedy Drive. After the welcoming announcements just before 5pm, Remedy Drive took the stage a few minutes earlier than their scheduled 5:20 start and launched their set as we finally made our way over to the Main Stage from overflow parking in section K (which is a brutal trek back to Main Stage, but thankfully there are school buses that act as shuttles taking people back and forth between the main festivities and camp/parking areas). Word Records pop/rock act Remedy Drive opened with "Stand Up," the lead off song from their debut album Daylight Is Coming. The all-brothers band from Nebraska is a sight to see live and this particular set at Creation Fest was no different. They always put on quite an engaging live performance. "Something Made To Last" followed, as well as an old track from one of their indie releases, and then the catchy "Heartbeat" from Daylight. Bassist Philip Zach offered a funky bass solo before frontman David Zach introduced the band members and then sat down at the piano for their radio hit "All Along." Daniel Zach gave the crowd a tasty drum solo before the guys as a whole offered a brand new song (which is currently unreleased). David paused before "Hope" to invite the festivalgoers to the autograph tent to meet them, and then, before the set's finale, "Daylight," the singer gave a brief inspiring message on the hope that we have.

After Remedy Drive finished, Northern Ireland worship band Bluetree lead the festival in worship to prepare their hearts for speaker Reggie Dabbs, who also performed a little hip hop to get the audience hyped for his message, "Stretch Out Your Hand." Announcements and promos from festival sponsors filled time between most of the headlining acts throughout the week, and after what felt like a pretty long wait, hard rock extravaganza Skillet burst onto the stage with a full-on pyrotechnic enhanced performance. With live violin and cello accompaniment, the four-piece band opened with "Whispers In The Dark," followed by "Better Than Drugs," which then featured smoke jets in place of the pyro. Vocalist/bassist John Cooper took some time to talk to the audience before continuing their set with the more mellow "Older I Get" and then blowing it up again with the energetic "Comatose" (and once again, complete with pyro). Skillet then threw out a track for their longtime panhead followers (like this guy) with "Best Kept Secret," utilizing a pair of rising and descending columns at the back of the stage for the violin and cello accompaniment). They then introduced a brand new song from their upcoming album, Awake, the hard rocking album opener, "Hero." Afterwards, Cooper paused again, this time to talk about his love for power ballads (something that's especially evident on their album Comatose and its new follow-up, Awake) and performed a few lines from the mainstream hit "I'll Be There For You" before leading it into the band's own "Yours To Hold." The dramatic duet-fueled "Last Night" preceded an impressive drum solo from the band's relatively new drummer, Jen Ledger, and then the band moved into the almost pop/punk sound of "Those Nights." Although their set began winding to a close, it showed no sign of waning and the rock persisted with another new song, "Monster," and then a pair of cello and violin solos that preceded "Rebirthing." For this song, a trio of spinning pyro pinwheels were stationed at key points on the stage for added effect. Towards the later half of their set (probably around "Monster"), Cooper handed the bass off to a fill-in bass player, which gave him more of an opportunity to roam the stage. The live bassist looked more suited for a metal or hardcore act with his long hair and muscular build, but it was nice to see John get a chance to step out from behind the mic stand for a change.

All good things must come to an end as Skillet closed with the hit rocker "Savior," which once again found the members utilizing the columns in the back of the stage, while extended usage of pyro helped bring their set to an explosive finish. I've seen these guys many times since first seeing them live at Creation East '98, and this was easily their best show yet. Skillet's always been an engaging rock band, but the theatrics fit them perfectly (especially with their current, more symphonic sound). It just seemed unfortunate for the much more laid back Relient K to have to follow-up such an energizing performance.

After another break, Relient K took the stage almost a half hour earlier than their 10:45 scheduled performance (which does sound ridiculously late though, huh?). To our surprise, the Ohio quintet opened with the somewhat old school "Chap Stick, Chapped Lips, and Things Like Chemistry" before breaking out into the more mature material like "Who I Am Hates Who I've Been" and the upbeat "High of 75." The guys were certainly on the ball for the night, but as feared, their set was a big contrast to their hard rocking, pyro-wielding predecessors. Still, they were real troopers, giving plenty of music for their fans, offering the title track from their upcoming October release, Forget and Not Slow Down, followed by their own clever ode to the TV show The Office, and an old fan favorite, "Mood Rings." As we went to go walk around the Creation Fest grounds (i.e. we headed up to the merch pavilion), Relient K then broke out a cover of Subway's promotional theme for "Five Dollar Foot Longs" before performing "The Lining Is Silver" and "There Was No Thief" from their Nashville Tennis EP. They then switched gears for the edgier "Which To Bury, Us Or The Hatchet?" and back to slower material for the piano ballad "Let It All Out." Next, they played another brand new song (which actually sounded a lot like some of their older songs), before playing the catchy "I Need You" and then busting out a surprise cover of Cake's "Going The Distance" - complete with trumpet accompaniment. "Devastation and Reform," as well as the fan favorite "Be My Escape" and then another new track (a ballad) followed, for the band to quasi-end their generous sixteen or so song set. But the guys weren't quite done with the music just yet. Relient K came back out to perform their epic, extended finale "Death Bed" for a spine-tingling end to the first night of Creation. It's a beautiful song and a fantastic closer.

With the conclusion of "Death Bed," the first night of Creation East 2009 had concluded (save for the midnight acoustic cafe festivities which featured comedienne Kerri Pomarolli, who actually wasn't all that funny, but perhaps I was just too tired to enjoy it). Our week was only just beginning, and it was certainly off to an incredible start.

On to Thursday...

-- John DiBiase, 7/3/09

 

Creation 2009: Wednesday Photo Gallery
click on an image for a bigger size
**vertical images cropped for thumbnails**

Remedy Drive -- 5:20pm Main Stage

Bluetree -- 6:15pm Main Stage

Reggie Dabbs -- 6:40pm Main Stage

Skillet -- 8:25pm Main Stage

Relient K -- 10:45pm Main Stage

*all photos by John DiBiase and are the property of Jesusfreakhideout.com

Creation 2009 Review: MAIN | Wednesday | Thursday | Friday | Saturday

 

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Next Friday, October 25
Lauren Daigle Rescue (Chill Mix) - Single [Centricity]
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