Purple Door Festival 2010 Review by by Cara Fisher on 2010-09-03 14:14:57
Purple Door is an arts and music festival based in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania, just outside of the state’s capital. The festival takes place at a ski resort in mid-August,beginning on a Friday evening and ending Saturday night.Even though Purple Door is a smaller, lesser-known festival than say, neighboring festival Creation Northeast, people still travel far distances to experience Purple Door. Why? Because it is one of the few festivals that showcases alternative and metal Christian artists, as well as bands without the Christian label but with Christian members.
For its fifteenth anniversary, Purple Door had a phenomenal line-up in store for attendees. Headliners consisted of August Burns Red, Thousand Foot Krutch, Project 86, and Family Force 5. In total, more than thirty artists were scheduled to perform. To accommodate performances were four stages: Main Stage, HM Stage (sponsored by HM magazine), Gallery Stage, and The Forum.
I arrived an hour before the festival started on Friday, so I used that time to scope out the vendors in the lodge (having indoor facilities at a festival is a huge plus). This year’s vendors included, HM magazine, To Write Love On Her Arms, TVU Live&RadioU, among others. Walking back to the Main Stage, I took the main pathway, which was pretty much two or so inches deep of pure mud. I naively wore flip flops this year, and yeah… I lost one in the mud. Bummer. I was a little concerned with all the mud this year because of what happened during Project 86’s set in 2004. A long story short, Project 86 had to prematurely end their set because fans began chucking mud on stage (the band finally returned to the festival just last year).This year, thankfully, everyone kept the mud on the ground.
Kicking off the festival on the Main Stage was punk/rock outfit Children 18:3. And with the recent release of their sophomore album, Rain’s ‘A Comin’, I was stoked to hear the new tunes live. The sky was dark, and it looked like rain was on the way, so it was very appropriate when Children 18:3 launched into the title-track of their new album. From there, they took us back to their spectacular debut with “Even Sleeping” and the catchy “All My Balloons.” Towards the middle of their set vocalist/guitarist David Hostetter sang “God Bless America,” providing an unexpected twist. The Minnesotan natives closed with the fan favorite, “LCM.”
Before The Classic Crime began their set, vocalist Matt MacDonald informed the crowd that one of their guitarists, Justin, would not be joining them because he was back in the band’s hometown of Seattle trying to pass a kidney stone. The band stuck to mostly crowd favorites and radio singles like, “Grave Digging,” ‘Who Needs Air,”and “Coldest Heart,” as well as selections from their latest release, including the electric “Cheap Shots,” “Perfect Voice,” and my personal favorite, “Four Chords.”
Most of the attendees, including myself, probably expected Renee Yohe to share her testimony and about the organization she inspired, To Write Love On Her Arms. But actually, Renee was there for a musical performance. She had performed at a few small venues already; however, Purple Door was the largest venue she had played to date. Renee looked a little uneasy up on stage at first, but seemed to ease up once she started singing.I was definitely not expecting the smoky, thick, jazz-inspired vocals that flowed effortlessly from her.Renee shared some of her original songs, including “Shark’s Teeth” and “Teach Me,” before performing a rendition of Coldplay’s “The Scientist.” It was a daring pick, but she pulled it off brilliantly.
Metalcore act August Burns Red was up next, a stark contrast to what had preceded. And honestly, it was the only act that night that I was less than thrilled about. I think one of the Purple Door staff hit the nail on the head when she remarked, “I can’t tell if this is their second or tenth song; they all run together.” They’re definitely a talented bunch, but I’m not a fan of metalcore (with the exception of Oh Sleeper). The crowd however, was very into it. Not even thirty seconds into ABR’s set and people were crowd surfing.
Tooth & Nail’s Thousand Foot Krutch was the headliner for the night. The Canadian nu-metal band opened with the title-track from their most recent release, Welcome To The Masquerade. “Bring Me To Life” followed, along with the crowd pleaser, “Move.”To avoid the mass exodus that would inevitably occur at the end of TFK’s set, I left halfway through their performance.
Saturday’s line-up was packed full of awesome bands- Demon Hunter, Project 86, and Family Force 5, to name a few. Even though I hadn’t stayed up incredibly late, I got a slow start that morning and missed the majority of Esterlyn’s set. Luckily, I made it to the festival just in time for Andrew Schwab’s message, so I headed over to the Forum listen to him speak.
Andrew Schwab is most well known as the lead singer of Project 86, but he’s also a writer, and a speaker. This year at Purple Door, Schwab’s message was about“emerging from the desert”and finding your calling in life; a topic that is certainly relevant to most everyone at some point in their spiritual walk. Some of the key components he discussed were: taking an “inventory” of your gifts and passions, having a servant’s heart, writing a vision statement for your life, and most importantly having a personal relationship with God. It was an excellent message, and something I personally needed to hear, as I am nearing a transition point in my life. I don’t think Schwab books many speaking engagements, so if you ever get the chance to hear him speak, don’t miss out.
As I was heading over to the Main Stage to see Ivoryline, Gotee recording artist Abandon Kansas was ending their set with “Close Your Eyes.” And I only knew that song because of their music video. I don’t think I’ve ever really listened to the song though because I can’t get past the guitarist’s eccentric dance moves.
I own both of Ivoryline’s albums, but I’ve never been able to get into them. I thought seeing them perform live might help. Let’s just say I was wrong and leave it at that. After a couple of songs, I decided to head over to the HM stage and stake out a spot for one of my most anticipated performances of the day, Showbread.
On the way to the HM stage, I passed the Gallery Stage and stopped there for a few minutes to listen to Leigh Nash (Sixpence None The Richer). It was a very intimate set with just her and a guy on acoustic guitar. She seemed genuinely surprised that so many people were listening to her performance, rather than the rock show that was occurring at the Main Stage. I listened to Nash perform a song from her solo record and a cover of “End of the World” by Skeeter Davis. As I was leaving I heard the sounds of a Sixpence None The Richer classic, “Kiss Me.” Her performance really got me pumped for the upcoming Sixpence None The Richer album.
This was my first time seeing Showbread live, and they lived up to my expectations- good music, honest commentaries, and funny remarks. Before Showbread came out, the crowd was getting antsy in anticipation and started chanting, “We want bread!” I spotted several dedicated Showbread fans in the crowd holding up slices of bread with the word “show” written across the bread. Clever. After a few minutes, Showbread emerged and ripped into the sarcastic “Shepherd, No Sheep.” My favorite part of their set was when Josh Dies got into an argument with a girl in the audience. The girl thought it impossible to ski on grass, but Josh Dies vehemently disagreed.After their jokingly heated argument, Josh introduced a new song “A Man With A Hammer” and later announced the name of their upcoming album, Who Can Know It.
After Showbread, I had a dilemma. Family Force 5 was performing an acoustic set at the forum and Demon Hunter was up next on the HM stage. I opted for Demon Hunter since I’ve never seen them live before and they don’t tour very often. I later heard that Family Force 5 fried the sound system at The Forum. That seems like an impossible feat for an acoustic set, but with Family Force 5, expect the unexpected.
Demon Hunter had a solid performance, and played a well-rounded mix from their repertoire, which included some of my favorites (“Undying,” “Fading Away,” and “Not Ready To Die”). At the end of their set they took a request for “Collapsing” from their most recent release. I wish they had taken a request for an older song, like from Summer of Darkness or their debut album.I’m sure most people in the audience already expected Demon Hunter to perform “Collapsing,” being it’s a newer radio single.
I was highly anticipating Paper Route. I saw them last year on tour with Paramore, and they are truly one of the most underrated groups around.Their music is ambient/experimental, which may sound like a boring performance, but Paper Route’s music is very engaging. Unlike many other bands, Paper Route doesn’t need visuals or gimmicks to grab the audience’s attention; their music alone is enough.The highlight of their set was “Dancing On Graves.” The bridge made for a very powerful and moving moment with everyone singing, “When we see the light when we're going home/We'll dance on our graves with our bodies below/We'll sing glory and Hallelujah.”
Project 86 is my all time favorite band, so their performance was the highlight of the festival for me. I felt like a tween girl getting to see Justin Bieber for the first time.I could hardly contain my excitement when they opened with my favorite song, “Sincerely Ichabod.”It’s one of those perfect live songs, with sweet groove in the verses and a gang vocal type chorus. Midway through their set, Project 86 attempted to play “Destroyer” in conjunction with the music video up on the JumboTron screen. Unfortunately, there was an issue with the video, so they performed the song without it. But the fog and red lights created a creepy ambience that made up for the lack of video. Schwab then took a brief break from deafening the audience to talk about Charity Water, an organization that the band recently partnered with. Getting back to the music, the band launched into a crowd favorite, “Stein’s Theme,” before taking a final request. Of course, that final request turned out to be one of Project 86’s most popular songs, “Spy Hunter.” At the end of the song, the bassist (who is actually the bassist for The Wedding, and was filling in) climbed up the scaffolding, and flexed his arm muscles at the audience.
Headlining the festival was Family Force 5, the band that is ALWAYS an experience, no matter how many times you’ve seen them. Last year, their gimmick was dressing up in football attire. This year, toward the end of their set, each member strapped on a backpack carrying a huge orb with a picture of the band member’s face. It may sound strange on paper, but it actually looked really cool. The majority of Family Force 5’s set consisted of songs from their acclaimed debut record. In my opinion, the songs on that record translate much better into a live setting than do the dance/techno songs from Dance Or Die. Although, I have to admit, the Dance Or Die songs make for some sweet dance pits.
Once again I cut out of the last act early. Purple Door doesn’t really have a good system for exiting traffic (one of the festival’s few downsides), so leaving after the last act will get you caught in a mob scene.
If you’re into alternative, metal, or non-CCM Christian bands,this is the festival for you. Purple Door was the highlight of my summer this year, and I’m already looking forward to next year.