Fresh off of the Believer tour, opening for Kutless with Rhett Walker Band and Hyland, Fireflight is back on the road for a limited run this fall as headliners of the Keep It Loud Tour. Boasting five artists, including KJ-52, Spoken, 7eventh Time Down and George Moss, the tour offers attendees a fair mix of rock, rap, hard rock and even a bit of hardcore. One thing can be assured: this tour keeps it loud.
We arrived at Christ Wesleyan Church, a nice looking place off the beaten path in Milton, PA, shortly after George Moss's hip hop set had ended. The church looked like it was only a few years old, with a beautiful wing added on to it that contained what is literally one of the most beautiful and cool-looking coffee shops I have ever seen (and I've seen and been to quite a few). Given its location in the secluded town of Milton, the coffee shop is a brilliant outreach opportunity and the building has a pretty nice gymnasium that doubles as a concert venue. Earlier this year, the church hosted Disciple and Write This Down, but this was the first time they were bringing in an official tour.
After a friendly greeting at the door, we made our way inside where BEC Recordings' 7eventh Time Down was performing. To be frank, I wasn't all that taken with their 2011 debut, Alive In You, but I found their live show to fair considerably better. They offer a style that, in a live setting, bears an edgy southern rock sound, with elements of it bringing to mind the music of Guardian at times. For "Love Parade," they encouraged a singalong, and performed other cuts from their debut, including the somewhat strange fan favorite, "Jesus Machine." In the end, I thought their set was a decent warmup act for the tour, and the Milton audience seemed to enjoy it.
The next act was a bit of a rude awakening for anyone completely unfamiliar with Spoken. The band has been laying low in recent years, having parted ways with their longtime home label of Tooth & Nail and cycling out every member with the exception of vocalist Matt Baird. But with a new album in the can and slated for a February release through eOne, Spoken is stretching a new pair of legs and Baird seems more than up to the task. Their set was as ferocious as a Spoken set is expected to be, with Baird screaming most of the vocals and occasionally offering up some singing for good measure. I didn't recognize most of the songs Spoken played, but at one point, Baird announced the next song as being a love song and played "More Than You Know" (which I assume is a new one off their forthcoming album). It was great to see these guys in action again and I think they'll be an act to keep an eye out for in 2013.
Before the final two acts, Fireflight front woman, Dawn Michele, came out on stage to share about World Vision and its impact on her own personal life. She explained that it wasn't until Fireflight had toured with Disciple, and she'd heard Kevin Young speak on the organization night after night, that she'd realized she needed to support the cause and sponsor a child herself. She also introduced a video from World Vision and shared the sobering statistic that 26,500 kids die a day from hunger and disease and that we have the power to do something about it. For more info on World Vision, check out their website at worldvision.org.
After Dawn left the stage, there was a brief intermission, and then hip hop artist KJ-52 emerged ready to start a party in the Christ Wesleyan Church gymnasium. George Moss came back out too, which gave me a chance to see him in action since I'd regretfully missed his set, and he served as KJ's hype man for the celebrated artist's set. Kicking off with the beat from Michael Jackson's "Billie Jean," it was only a moment before KJ's own "It's Goin' Down" from his latest album, Dangerous, was underway. George and KJ verbally volleyed back and forth and joked around while frequently interacting with the crowd. The stage setup in the gym had a small but wide catwalk added to the front of it, so the artists were able to walk out into the crowd during their sets, making it more interactive and intimate. And with well over 500 people in attendance, a good number of them were up front surrounding the stage. KJ followed up the set starter with a clip from "Thriller" and joked that he was going to show everyone how to effectively blend in when there is the inevitable zombie apocalypse. He then broke into "Stuck in the 80s" and offered up clips of other songs like "Ice Ice Baby," "Time of My Life" and "Don't Stop Believing." "Swagged Out With Tags Out" was next and then "Gimme Dat Mountain Dew" and "Coke, Fry, Cheeseburger." KJ then appeased those who grew up in the 90s with a "Stuck in the 90s" tribute, playing clips of "Macarena" and "Who Let The Dogs Out." George and KJ also gave out some free stuff before pumping up the crowd with "Gangnam Style" (which George danced to while KJ acted like it was unplanned). KJ also then took random objects from people in the crowd to do a freestyle rap, which is always a fun moment in a hip hop set.
After a short set change, it was time for the night's final act, Fireflight. Dressed in matching Now album themed outfits, the rock quintet opened with a pair of rockers (which, incidentally, both have to deal with fire, thematically speaking), "Ignite" and "Fire In My Eyes." Dawn made good use of the catwalk throughout the set, and guitarists Justin Cox and Glenn Drennen wandered out there a few times as well. "Stand Up," from their fan favorite album Unbreakable, followed suit, and then the rock ballad "Keeping Me Alive," from Now, was next. The title track from their third album For Those Who Wait picked the pace back up before the band left drummer Adam McMillion alone on stage. A siren sound went off and then McMillion's arms were in a flurry as lights flashed and he performed an impressive drum solo. The band's breakout single, "Unbreakable" was a worthy follow-up to such musical ferocity, and the high energy was continued with Now's "Stronger Than You Think." As the set already began to wind down (since there are five artists on the bill for the night), "You Gave Me A Promise," from Unbreakable, was a great set moment, while the slower and emotional "What I've Overcome" preceded the faster anthem "Now," and then the fivesome walked off the stage. The crowd cheered passionately for more and the band resumed their places on stage for one of my personal favorites, "Desperate," from For Those Who Wait (And it was either for this song or for "Now" that huge, white inflated beach balls were unleased on the audience and bounced back and forth toward the stage). It was a solid rock show and these guys have big hearts for their fans and for youth. They always engage the crowd well and make them feel part of the show.
The close of "Desperate" marked the end of the night for the Milton crowd. Kurt Eisele with Brookside Ministries (brooksideministries.com) and Burned By God (burnedbygod.com) did a really great job on this show. I definitely look forward to the next show they put on at Christ Wesleyan. The Keep It Loud Tour itself was certainly a fun night of a music and it offered a little bit for just about every music fan. Fans of hip hop and rock will definitely not want to miss this. And if you do, be sure to especially catch Fireflight, Spoken and KJ-52 when they come to a city near you individually or on their next tour!-- John DiBiase, 11/21/12
Fireflight Set List
02. Fire In My Eyes
03. Stand Up
04. Keeping Me Alive
05. For Those Who Wait
06. Drum Solo / Unbreakable
07. Stronger Than You Think
08. You Gave Me A Promise
09. What I've Overcome
7eventh Time Down
Dawn Michele (Talking about World Vision)
KJ-52 (w/ George Moss)
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