Creation Festival (Northeast) Coverage
July 19, 2011Posted by on
For over the past three decades, Creation Festival NE has hosted the top performers in CCM. This year was no different, boasting headliners like tobyMac, Chris Tomlin, Newsboys, and Skillet. Also included in the line-up were some other top-notch bands who don’t fit the CCM mold, like Emery, Disciple, The Almost, and Brian “Head” Welch. Located on a several hundred-acre farm in Central Pennsylvania, Creation is a four-day affair (Wednesday through Sunday) with performances taking place on two stages: Main Stage and Fringe Stage.
Typically, I attend all four days; however, this year I was only able to attend on Saturday. I arrived early in the day around 10am when there wasn’t much going on. Jason Ostrander was speaking on the Main Stage, and on the Fringe Stage were a bunch of indie acts. Since I didn’t have an interest in either, I checked out the artist merch.
I caught the end of Carlos Whittaker’s set on the Main Stage. He finished with a powerful rendition of Chris Tomlin’s “Our God.” It was an amazing experience to take part in worship with thousands of fellow believers and was my favorite moment of the day.
After Carlos’ set, I wandered into the Children’s tent (doubles as the Worship tent in the afternoon) to get some shade. The performing act was a group of kids that used PVC pipes as instruments. Their final song was Newsboys’ “Shine,” which was pretty awesome.
Finally it was getting close to 1 pm, and Write This Down began sound-checking on the Fringe Stage. I got a laugh out of the conversations about WTD that were happening around me. Most went something like this, “Who’s up next?” “Uh, some group called Write It Down or Write That Down… Write something Down.” “Write what down?” I suppose the majority of the crowd was not familiar with these guys, so it was definitely good exposure for them.
KJ-52 was once again the emcee for the Fringe Stage. He introduced Write This Down as “audio-crack set to a beat.” They launched right into “Renegade” and ripped through six more songs off their debut record in no time. Even though Creation discourages moshpits, there was one growing throughout WTD’s set.
Like Write This Down, and several other bands playing at Creation, The Letter Black made the 13 hour trek from Cornerstone, where they said it reached temperatures of up 110 degrees. And I felt like I was dying in the 88 degree heat at Creation…
I hadn’t really listened to The Letter Black before seeing them at Creation. They were pretty solid live; although during the first few songs of their set the mix wasn’t so great. Their heavy instrumentation completely drowned out Sarah’s vocals. Toward the end of their set TLB ambitiously took on Aerosmith’s “Dream On.” I admit I was expecting disaster, but they managed to pull it off with Sarah screaming the high notes.
After Tony Nolan gave his message on the Fringe Stage, the heavy rock continued with former Korn guitarist, Brian “Head” Welch. I was late getting back over to the Fringe Stage, so I only heard the last few songs of his set. As I made my way to the stage, some crazed fan ran by me screaming,”It’s the creepy song!” And I think that would be the perfect description of his performance- creepy, but in entertaining way…
Finally it was time for the band I’d been waiting for all day- Emery. Unfortunately, it started raining as soon as they got on stage. At first it was just a light rain as they opened with “So Cold I Could See My Breath.” Then, total downpour. About half the crowd left, but Emery kept going with “Cheval Glass.” Toby remarked about loving the rain, but I don’t think Matt felt the same as his pedal board began malfunctioning after getting wet. While he tried to fix it, Toby introduced the “most serious” song he’d ever written, “I Never Got To See The West Coast,” which is an acoustic track off their new record. He talked about having nightmares about his wife dying and how the song was born out of that experience. Matt was able to continue with his pedal board, and they launched into another new track, “The Curse Of Perfect Days,” which they followed up with “Listening To Freddie Mercury” and “Studying Politics.” Emery closed as expected with fan favorite “Walls.”
After Emery, the Fringe Stage shut down for the day, and I was beat. I grabbed dinner and skipped out on Brandon Heath, Carlos Whittaker’s second set, and the main speaker for a nap in my car. Around 8:30, I made my way to the Main Stage for Adam Young’s one-man band, Owl City. I’ve only ever heard one of his songs- the one that everybody who owns a radio has heard- “Fireflies.” Even though synth-pop is not one of my favorite genres, I was curious about Adam’s live show. I’ve read a couple of his interviews, and he struck me as a very shy person. But when he came out he totally owned the stage. He seemed genuinely thrilled to be at Creation and repeatedly commented on how “surreal” it was to be there. I had anticipated him playing keys, but he actually had a dedicated keyboardist, so he mostly stuck to guitar. It was obvious that the crowd didn’t know most of his songs; only a few were singing along. But when he started into “Fireflies” I could barely hear him sing over the crowd. One of his last songs was a new one, “Deer In The Headlights,” which he explained was about a time when he was Walmart at 2 AM and an attractive woman sprayed him with pepper spray.
I was a little sad to leave Creation that night, knowing it’d be my last festival for awhile, since I’ll be moving next month. Overall, it was a great day from the crazy rock performances to worshiping our Creator. I hope I have the opportunity to go back someday.