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JFH Concert Review

Photos by John

On Tuesday, Amy and I returned to the Renaissance for an early bird interview with Skillet's John Cooper at 9:30AM. After discussing the band's new record that is currently in-the-works, we left the Renaissance and walked to the Gaylord Entertainment Center for one of our most memorable experiences of the week.

Although I've been listening to Jars Of Clay since I saw them open up for PFR in early 1995 before the band's debut smash even hit streets, has never had the pleasure of interviewing the talented foursome. So when we filed into a small curtained-off corner of Provident's press room to talk to the guys, it felt like a long awaited honor. The interview we'd planned to conduct virtually was tossed out as we ended up discussing the band's newest album, their first real rock record, Good Monsters, which is slated for a September release. And as the interview drew to a close, the band's eagerness to share the music lead to the six of us climbing to a small banquet room at the top of the Gaylord building so the band could debut a new song for us over a PA system. It was icing on a long awaited cake, making for a sweet appetizer before we had a delightful lunch with Pivitplex at the restaurant Merchant's.

At 2:30PM, after grabbing coffee at the Renaissance and fine-tuning our questions, we had a touching and emotional sit-down with Sanctus Real. Discussing the band's heartaches from the past year, the extensive interview turned out to be the most meaningful one we'd conduct that week. It was also a pleasure to be able to talk to the guys on the very day their new record The Face Of Love released.

At 4:30PM, after remaining in the Renaissance Hotel's designated GMA press room to finish preparing for our final two interviews, we visited the Gotee Records suite for a talk with Atlanta's Mars Ill. With all of the controversy over the delay of the hip hop duo's forthcoming release Pro*Pain, it was great to finally get to talk to them about it to hear their side of the story.

But our week of GMA festivities couldn't have come to a more suitable finish than an interview with Family Force 5. Although many of the members were tired and fairly under the weather, the interview was both the band's and our final interview of the day, leaving room for the giddy talk to drift to nearly an hour in length. It wasn't a chat we'd soon forget.

Tuesday night was frustrating when it came to showcases, to say the least. With about a half a dozen showcases overlapping each other, it made it especially hard to see all the bands you wanted to (or promised to) in the allotted time. The decision was made to see the Tooth & Nail showcase in its entirety inside the Renaissance Ballroom to start out the evening right. A modest audience slowly grew within the confines of the Ballroom, as Run Kid Run opened the showcase. Their four song punk-flavored rock set included their songs "Sing To Me" and "The Modern March," with the band closing after "We've Only Just Begun." Run Kid Run was a decent performance, but nothing to really get too excited about -- something that doesn't apply to the following act, the engaging Mainstay. Their beautiful melodies and catchy alt-pop/rock songs is what really seems to be the clinching attraction for this new act. Their slim four song set was a smartly chosen selection of songs, opening with "This Could Be," and continuing on with "Yesterday," "Take Away," and "Mirrors."

Seventh Day Slumber was probably the first name of the night that most people knew the band on stage. Their versatile pop-modern rock anthems consisted of several radio hits, including "Caroline" and "Oceans For The Rain." Their sound isn't particularly anything unique or groundbreaking, but their message is honest, bold, and encouraging. Falling Up followed, tearing up the stage as usual with their frenzied performance that consisted of many new cuts from their latest record Dawn Escapes. While their sound doesn't seem to translate quite as well to CD as it plays out live, these kids know how to rock and I've yet to see them put on a show that wasn't energetic. The showcase's main attraction and closer Hawk Nelson stole the show, however. Opening with their current hit, the deliciously aggressive "One Thing I Have Left," the guys put on the kind of show listeners have come to expect from these young rockers. It's been nice to see their progression from a couple kids in a pop/punk band to a group of young men putting on a rock show. The aptly chosen follow up, "The Show" was a wonderful addition to their set, leading into their emotional single about a father who walked out on his family, "Everything You Ever Wanted." A revisit to their debut with "Every Little Thing" preceded their set's rousing finish, "Bring 'Em Out."

And this is about when we felt stuck... the Centricity/SRE/INO Rock U Night showcase was set to begin shortly at 10PM right there in the Ballroom, featuring our new friends The Afters, Circleslide, DecyferDown, Disciple, Downhere, Flyleaf, and one of our longtime favorites, Skillet. But then again, at 9:30PM, the Flicker/Essential Rock Night was beginning with Day Of Fire, Kids In The Way, Red, Eleventyseven, Krystal Meyers, and Until June at the Mercy Lounge... Still yet, Central South Distribution was manning The Red Iguana all night, and our boys in The Listening were set to play before 10:30PM... Decisions, decisions...

Weighing our options and choosing our love for The Listening first and foremost, we drove to The Red Iguana where we wonderfully strolled in in just enough time to catch Kevin Max finishing "Sanctuary" and begin his closer, "Jumpstart Your Electric Heart." We were thrilled we were just in time, and were excited to know we had just enough time to see The Listening, and return to the Ballroom to catch Skillet before the night was over... but then it happened. The proverbial wrench in the plans. While it seemed strangely disorganized, The Listening was not playing next... Instead, a painfully long delay took place as Toddie Funk and the Electric Church took the time to set up for their set. And while their performance was an intriguing and entertaining improvisation into our personal schedule, it also meant things were going to get later... and they did. The Listening went on closer to 11PM, opening with the meditative and worshipful "Glory Of The Feared," continuing on with "Be In Your Eyes," and the ominous allegory "The Factory." The Listening's impressive set closed with the sobering "Hosea In CMinor," and we immediately departed back to the Ballroom with hope.

...Hope that had quickly been squashed by the sight of a Ballroom audience filing out. So with a sense of defeat in missing Skillet's performance, Amy and I retired to our hotel room once again.

On to Wednesday...

-- John DiBiase, 4/16/06


GMA Week: Tuesday Photo Gallery
click on an image for a bigger size

[random images]

Run Kid Run -- Tooth & Nail Showcase @ Renaissance Hotel Ballroom

Mainstay -- Tooth & Nail Showcase @ Renaissance Hotel Ballroom

Seventh Day Slumber -- Tooth & Nail Showcase @ Renaissance Hotel Ballroom

Falling Up -- Tooth & Nail Showcase @ Renaissance Hotel Ballroom

Hawk Nelson -- Tooth & Nail Showcase @ Renaissance Hotel Ballroom

Kevin Max -- Central South @ Red Iguana

Toddie Funk & Electric Church -- Central South @ Red Iguana

The Listening -- Central South @ Red Iguana

*all photos by John DiBiase or Amy DiBiase, and are the property of

GMA Week 2006 Review: Sunday | Monday | Tuesday | Wednesday


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