For most people, Labor Day weekend is a time to get together with family and friends to celebrate the last weekend of the summer. For Christian music junkies in the New Jersey area, like me, Labor Day weekend is a time to see performances by some of the best bands Christian music has to offer at Revelation Generation Festival. Revelation Generation, or RevGen as it’s commonly referred to, has only been around for six years, yet the festival has already attracted thousands because of its diverse, top-knotch line-up, featuring artists from worship to folk to metal. RevGen boasts five stages: New York Stage (mainstream acts), Philadelphia Stage (alternative/metal acts), Nashville Stage (folk, pop, worship, and indie acts), Urban Stage (R&B, Rap, Hip/Hop acts), and Come&Live! Stage (mix of worship/metal acts mostly from the Come&Live! label).
As with previous years, RevGen had a fantastic line-up in store for attendees. The 2010 line-up included typical festival headliners such as tobyMac, Anberlin, and Skillet; artsy bands like Mae, solo-artist Dustin Kensrue, and Shawn McDonald; the line-up also included some unlikely artists, O.C. Supertones and Lou Gramm (formerly of Foreigner). This year RevGen took place on a Saturday and Sunday, departing from the typical Friday and Saturday, as in past years.
Britt Nicole was the first artist I was able to see at RevGen. She was very bubbly and energetic on stage, which certainly matched the personality of her two albums. Britt kicked off appropriately with “Welcome To The Show.” “Glow” and “Set The World On Fire,” followed, along with the spunky “Headphones,” which she dedicated to the ladies in the audience. Britt had a very engaging performance, but I had to leave halfway through her set to attend the Robbie Seay Band press conference.
Only two other media outlets joined the press conference with Robbie Seay, so it was very informal, which made for more personable and honest conversation. Robbie shared about the service work that his church, Ecclesia, has been involved in, (including the founding of Advent Conspiracy), as well as stuff about the band.
With a half an hour until The Almost’s set, I decided to watch BarlowGirl in the meantime. Unsurprisingly, the crowd for BarlowGirl was mostly female, but I did see a few guys singing along and one was even playing the air guitar. BarlowGirl once again had technical difficulties at RevGen. Last year it was a malfunctioning guitar pedal, this year, it was the guitar that malfunctioned. But BarlowGirl pulled through and it was one of the most enjoyable sets for me that day.
I almost didn’t recognize The Almost as I headed over to the Philadelphia stage. As I got closer I realized why, Aaron Gillespie had gotten a haircut. He explained that his dreads were starting to reek, so he chopped off most of his hair. The band played a well-balanced mix of popular tunes from their two albums. My favorite though, was a cover of Tom Petty’s “Free Falling.” They brought intense energy to the song, and even though some of the crowd probably wasn’t familiar with Petty, they seemed to enjoy it. The Almost finished their set with the stirring “Amazing Because It Is.”
Robbie Seay Band was my most anticipated act of the evening. Robbie opened with “Love Invades” off of his most recent album, Miracle. Another uplifting worship song, “Song of Hope” followed. After the catchy “Crazy Love,” Robbie performed a more upbeat and pop-ier version of Jon Foreman’s “Your Love Is Song.” I was disappointed when the band’s set ended after only six or seven songs.
For a number of people, even including a few bands that had performed at RevGen, Dustin Kensrue was the highlight of RevGen. Most well-known as the lead singer for alt. rock/post-hardcore band Thrice, Kensrue’s solo music is authentic folk/acoustic. His performance was very informal and intimate, armed with just a guitar and harmonica. Kensrue started with “Pistol,” which definitely seemed to be a crowd favorite. Following a cover of Peter Gabriel’s “Salsberry Hill,” was a song that I don’t know the title of, but that’s okay because Kensrue didn’t know the words. After the intro he abruptly stopped to ask someone in the crowd what the first line was to jog his memory. Kensrue later mentioned his appreciation of the crowd. He stated that he usually plays in secular environments and he thought it was cool that the RevGen audience understands the illusions in his songs. I really wanted to stay for his entire set, but I had to leave to finish homework (yes, I had homework due on a Saturday at midnight, blech). As I headed to my car I heard Kensrue playing an acoustic version of my favorite Thrice song, “In Exile.” Even though I’m only a casual fan, this ended up being my favorite performance of the whole festival. It’s very rare that I come across performances with such a feeling of authenticity as with Kensrue’s performance.