Some people only ever see a band once. And if it's an off performance, it will stick in their mind long after the final song has been played. However, some bands are consistently good, and for Audio Adrenaline, this rings true. I've seen Audio A at least nine times now and have never been disappointed (well, except for maybe my seating arrangement). And the 2000 Underdog Tour date in Philadelphia was the best of them all.
New Flicker Records artist Riley Armstrong opened the night with a few songs from his debut, offering an acoustic rock blend with a beat. KMG rock band Fono followed, with a solid performance as they rocked the venue. They opened up with "Collide" and also played other selections from their debut, goesaroundcomesaround, including "Alcatraz." Forefront Records' pop/dance act Raze took the stage next with a jaw-dropping performance. The foursome, including their new member Todd (who replaced J.D.), were accompanied by two dancers and delivered each song with full energy and moves that they choreographed themselves. Although not much of a Raze fan, I have to say their set was stunning as they performed such hits as "In the Name," "Lead Me," "Always and Forever," and "Arms Around the World."
After an intermission, Audio Adrenaline hit the stage with "Mighty Good Leader," followed by "Free Ride," "I'm Not the King," and The Doors cover "Let My Love Open the Door." The band put on a tight rock performance that surpassed all previous shows I've seen from them. And this time around, the band integrated a video screen backdrop which featured music video footage and various other scenes to go along with the music. Lead singer Mark Stuart, donning a sleeveless black shirt, strapped on his acoustic to perfom "Some Kind of Zombie" to the anxious Philly crowd. Following "Zombie," Stuart informed the audience that they were going play some "old school" Audio Adrenaline before throwing out the tasty treat - which AA is probably best known for - "Big House." Mark got down from the stage and walked in front of the crowd behind the barrier that held them back and interacted with the crowd. Stuart rejoined his musical team as they presented the title cut from their latest recording, "Underdog." Following the song, the band left bassist Will McGinniss alone on stage as he presented a short message from the scriptures about Christians being underdogs.
Following McGinniss' talk, the band rejoined Will to present one of the slower songs from the new album, "This Day," a song about devoting each new day to the Lord every morning. Mark then told the crowd about a car his family used to have during his childhood, and they began to play "Chevette" from their Some Kind of Zombie record. The worshipful tune about asking God to use you, "Hands and Feet," followed before the band members grabbed seats on stools for an acoustic set. They performed "Never Gonna Be as Big as Jesus" and then asked the crowd if anyone owned their very first, self-titled, album. When a few enthusiastic fans responded, they apologized for ever recording the album. Audio Adrenaline then played a song off the first project (may have been "What You Need" -- I missed it). At that point, the guys broke out a series of small keyboards and placed them in their laps. Mark announced that they were going to play classic Christian hits and let drummer Ben Cissel pick a song. They then did a silly rendition of Amy Grant's "Baby Baby" - complete with motions. Stuart added to the silliness of the moment by ad-libbing or inserting "something something" for words he didn't know. Then they took requests from the crowd, and after hearing countless screams for the title, guitarist Tylert Burkum began tapping out the guitar chords for dc Talk's "Jesus Freak" with Mark and Ben joining in. Next, they sang the Newsboys' "Shine" after joking about other Australian artists and Ben singing the chorus to Rebecca St. James' "God."
After their acoustic interlude, the guys picked up their instruments once again. Tyler began playing the opening bars of Aerosmith's "Walk This Way" before the band performed one of my all-time favorites, "We're a Band." Half-way through the song, Mark introduced the band and then pulled four fans out of the crowd to join them on stage to jump around with them (...myself included) before completing the song. Once the fans left the stage, Audio closed out the set with another personal favorite, the appropriate "It's Over," a song about leaving an AA concert and taking the message with you. With the song's end, the lights went out and the audience screamed for more. But every Audio A fan knows they must come back for more. Besides, they hadn't sung "Get Down" yet! Audio Adrenaline took the spotlight once again to perform their latest hit, "Get Down," complete with the concept video showing in the background. But to close out the concert experience of the new millennium, they ended the night in a worshipful mode with "It is Well." Donnie from Raze came out on stage to sing the female accompaniment that Jennifer Knapp provided in the original recording on Underdog. The show ended with hearts in the right place-- centered on God, our creator. So in closing, if you get a chance to see The Underdog Tour this year, it is highly recommended it. Don't miss it!-- John DiBiase
Audio Adrenaline Set List
01. Mighty Good Leader
02. Free Ride
03. I'm Not The King
04. Let My Love Open The Door
05. Some Kind Of Zombie
06. Big House
08. This Day
10. Love Addict
11. Hands And Feet
12. "Acoustic Set" Audio A Songs: Never Gonna Be As Big As Jesus / Who Do You Love?
13. "Acoustic Set" Cover Songs: Baby, Baby / Jesus Freak / Shine
14. We're A Band
15. It's Over
16. Get Down
17. It Is Well With My Soul
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