05 April 2013

Easterfest 2013: Day 3

Saturday 30 March

Our Saturday started at 10 am with the Audio Adrenaline interview. Bassist Will McGinniss talked about the history of the band, its breakup in 2007 (and Easterfest-only reunion in 2009), and the formation of the new lineup - Audio "2.0".

Audio Adrenaline 2.0
L to R: Jared Byers (ex-Bleach & Relient K), Kevin Max (ex-dc Talk and solo), Will McGinniss (founding member), Jason Walker (member of Know Hope Collective), Dave Ghazarian (ex-Superchick).
For those of you who don't know, original lead singer Mark Stuart is unable to sing anymore, due to vocal cord damage (look up spasmodic dysphonia). With a heavy focus on the band's ongoing orphanage project in Haiti, Mark and Will recently put the band back together with the same name but new lineup. Kevin Max, formerly of dc Talk (and as a solo artist one of my all-time favourite vocalists), is their new frontman. The only original member playing and touring is Will McGinniss (bass guitar), but Mark Stuart remains active behind the scenes with "Audio A 2.0".

Then it was time for one of our highlights of the last few Easterfests - The Empty Chair Project. Band leader Richard Thayil arranges songs by Easterfest artists for big-band style, and then gets the vocalist to sing the new version of their song with his band backing them. It's always great

Craig Burnett (Scat)
Will Reagan (United Pursuit Band)
Samuel Hancock (Luminate)
Taga Paa
Mark Lowndes
Bec Laughton
Sharny Russell
Hayley Jensen (Silver Cities)
Joel Parisien (Newworldson)
The Empty Chair/Newworldson arrangement was two years in the making. Newworldson's last visit to Easterfest was in 2011, when Toowoomba floods meant the cancellation of the Empty Chair Project's concert. In 2013, Joel got to sing Richard's arrangement of "Working Man" - and it sounded great.

After the Empty Chair, Kara left to get some food at the shops, and I sat close to the head of the line for getting Audio Adrenaline autographs later that afternoon. Event staff handed out umbrellas for those of us who were waiting in the sun.

Kara joined the line later, and we got our Audio Adrenaline "Toowoomba: The Reunion 2009" T-shirts signed. We had them signed back in '09 by the original lineup of the band.

I think the new band members were kind of impressed by the old shirts.
The back of my shirt, now signed by 2 lineups of the same band.
Last time Will had drawn a smiley face next to his name. This time I asked him to write "2.0" instead.

Next on our agenda was another of the Noise sessions, this time on the subject of "Christians and Creativity". The guests being interviewed were artist and musician Jeff Crabtree (who had created a light-and-music display hanging from the ceiling of the Entrance Tent, pictures in Day 4 post) and brothers Jon and Peter Hume of Evermore. It was an interesting discussion.

Jeff Crabtree, Jon Hume, Peter Hume
After that I took advantage of my Premium Pass, which allowed us entry to Mainstage half an hour earlier than non-Premium ticketholders. I found a nice spot directly in line with the stage, in the shade of the sound and lighting tent. On Friday night, sitting high on the (audience) right side of the hillside, the sound hadn't been all that good. You could still hear everything, but the vocals in the mix particularly suffered, and the bass and drums seemed to take over everything else. I'd taken a walk across to the sound desk, though, and the sound was pretty much perfect if you were in line with the stage - I could hear the vocals, guitars, and other instruments perfectly. So on Saturday, I made sure to get a spot where the sound would be great.

My view of the stage (including my feet). Slight obstruction from the camera, but good sound.
I had brought "Ender's Game" to read with me, starting it on the bus on Thursday morning. I finished it on Saturday afternoon while waiting for the first bands to play. This way it'll be fresh in mind when the movie hits Aussie screens at the end of October.

Kara wearing several shirts in preparation for the cold.
Bec Laughton's set included special guests: dancers and incredible acrobats.
Peter Furler and band.
Peter Furler and his band were great. I've seen him live several times before at past Easterfests (and Sonfest), back when he was frontman of Newsboys. Kara and I were disappointed when bassist Phil Joel left the band and wasn't replaced. Bass parts were done on keyboard instead, and no disrespect to Jeff Frankenstein (who is an awesome keyboard player), it's just not the same as having a live bass guitar on stage. So it was great to see Phil Joel on bass in Furler's band.

Also in the band were Paul Colman (who played guitar in Newsboys for a few years) and George Perdikis (one of the founding members of Newsboys), both on electric guitar. It was a little bit of a reunion of ex-Newsboys members, and Peter of course included quite a few Newsboys numbers in his set. (He did write a lot of them, after all.)

Headlining Mainstage was Audio Adrenaline 2.0. I'd been down the front last time they played, and once again I got in touch with my inner teenager and headed down to the crowd for a closer view of the stage.

Audio A take the stage.
There's a thing called "Guitar face". And apparently "Bass hair", watching Will McGinniss.
I took this picture during "Big House". This kid in front of me is too young to have heard the song the first time (in '93).
With the above picture in mind, I did notice a slight difference between my time in the "mosh pit" (not that there was much in the way of moshing) in 2009 and in 2013. In 2009, despite Mark's voice not being the best, it was still an awesome show, and the crowd was jumping along to most of the songs. In 2013, I felt a little... old. There were some like me who were singing along, but many around me weren't - even during the older songs I thought they would know. A lot were probably like the guy in the photo above - younger than some of the songs in the setlist. It was just an odd feeling.

"Kings And Queens"

Below is the setlist, complete with my comments (and mini-reviews) on some of the songs.

Don't Change (INXS cover) - A brilliant song for Kevin's voice, and a nice touch for the Aussie audience.
Get Down
Mighty Good Leader - Kevin started the first verse a bit low, but the rest of the song sounded good.
King Of The Comebacks
Never Gonna Be As Big As Jesus - Kevin left out the second verse, instead singing the second part of the first verse again. If he'd forgotten the lyrics, I don't think it would have shown to anyone who didn't know the song - the show went on.
Big House
He Moves You Move - One of the new songs, I like this one - sounds reminiscent of early 2000s Audio A to me.
Ocean Floor - As an intro to this, Kevin sang a couple lines from U2's "Exit" (which are really more of an outro to "One Tree Hill"): "Oh great ocean, oh great sea. Run to the ocean, run to the sea." As a U2 fan, I thought this was a nice touch. Still prefer the version with Tyler Burkum's vocals, but to someone attuned to the original songs, the songs that had Tyler on lead vocals are a great fit for Kevin's voice as opposed to Mark's more gravelly tones.
Some Kind Of Zombie - I'd like to hear a recorded version of this with Kevin's voice. The live one was awesome, and may just top Mark Stuart's original version...
I Will Follow (U2 cover) - This was a great song choice, both for the band and for Kevin's voice. And it wasn't the first time they've done U2 - the old Audio Adrenaline previously contributed a cover of "Gloria" for a U2 tribute album.
Hands And Feet
Kings & Queens - The first single off the new record, and a great song.
When the band came back onstage, the crowd called out for dc Talk songs, and Kevin teased the crowd with a couple lines from the chorus of "Jesus Freak", but he'd already said in the morning's interview that there wouldn't be any dc Talk songs in the set.
Fire Never Sleeps (Martin Smith cover) - Another song off the new album to finish the night.

With Mainstage over, we stopped by The Arena, where Sanctus Real were performing a Premium-only acoustic show. The small hillside was pretty packed.

Crowd for Sanctus Real's late night acoustic set.
We only hung around for a couple songs, and then Kara and I went separate ways. She headed off for the Jazz Supper Club (featuring Scat, The Empty Chair Project, and James Morrison, among others) in the Palace venue, while I headed for the Epicentre to catch Mark Lowndes. We'd seen him at a gig on our coast getaway last year, and he's a good singer and guitar player. He was backed up by a couple guys he borrowed from Bec Laughton's band.

There was dancing in the aisles, and he even got a standing ovation from the crowd.

Mark takes a picture of the audience. You can see his picture (and me, in my green shirt) here.

I left the Epicentre and found Kara in the Palace tent, and caught the finale of the jazz night, with James Morrison and the other jazz artists performing an ensemble gospel song. The tent was dark and we were a bit far back - hence no photos.

The last act of the night was Phil Joel, who was performing in the Arena, accompanying himself on acoustic guitar and telling stories between songs.

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