Our Family

Our Family
Benaiah, Justin, Melinda, Abishai, Keturah, and Jared

Monday, February 19, 2018

Year 3, February 10th, 2018: Winterjam 2018!!!

This post will only be about WinterJam 2018, a Christian music mini festival, so if you don't care about that, feel free to skip it.  I'll be posting some videos among the pictures, so be sure to click the links!  WinterJam is definitely about showmanship!  With a very impressive list of artists, 10 in all, from very new and unknown bands to bands that have been around since I was born and bands with almost the biggest and best "fan army" in both Christian and secular music markets, there's something for everyone!  If you know me at all, you know that while I appreciate artists that focus solely on worship music, there is just something about songs that focus on life and it's journeys.  Songs that tell a story or have a very solid, memorable theme(s), but you aren't going to be singing them in church.  And there's something about seeing artists putting their heart and soul in to their art, not just as they are writing songs, but performing them.  Suffice it to say, WinterJam was by far the best PERFORMANCE I have ever seen, including 99% of Michael W. Smith's performances.  Don't get me wrong, I LOVE watching Michael W. perform and his songs are powerful, but you just can't beat lots of lights and surprising elements like PYRO (fire) elements, loud booms, lots of stage fog, pieces of the stage moving, etc.!!!!!!  And to see kids and adults alike enjoying every minute of it, filling a whole basketball arena to the brim, being exposed to so many genres of music, all with solid Christian lyrics, and knowing it's leaving a huge impact on these kids, as it always does for me, is incredible.  And to share that, finally, with my boys, was so special.

The other parents of the teens we were with were sick so I was kind of like the chaperone to 7 teens!  Now, these teens can handle themselves 99% of the time.  I definitely trust them to behave themselves.  But it was fun pretending to be the older, wiser one.  And it was so much fun being part of their gang and sharing in their laughter and goofiness.  They knew how to keep track of each other, how to purchase their own food wisely with their own funds, and are just the best teens I know! I'm glad they are Benaiah's best friends! They have all been trained well by some pretty incredible parents.  I love them to pieces!

Now, I will try to give you a rundown of the afternoon and evening as we scroll through the 331 pictures and 54 videos I took.  Say what?!  No, I won't post them all, but it might be a lot.  I could only bring in my iPhone 6s with me and the pictures, when blown up, don't always look great.  I can't tell if the pictures I take are blurry into I load them onto the computer, which is always disappointing.  I will have to stand more still when I got to Newboys if I don't find a non DSLR camera to bring.  Venues are extremely strict about cameras, food and think, pocket knives, etc.  Let's just say we had to throw away our water bottles, (thank goodness we only brought throw away ones), and had to share a $9 (thankfully with free refills) drink between the boys and I!  Oh my word!  I didn't buy anything else because it was that expensive.  I can't believe the price gouging by the arena!  We snuck in some food, so we are ok with just them.  So frustrating though!  Thankfully, the tickets are only $15, with a love offering being taken during the concert, because they want to keep it affordable for these kids, but the expenses are huge!

*I got these pictures and videos in the best chronogical order that I could.  I could be off on the sequence, as well as what all the songs are called.  But you get the point!  Enjoy!*

The kids' dad, Gary Strunk, dropped us off, and their mom, Lisa picked us up.  They didn't go because they had been sick all week.  It was awesome not to have to worry about driving and parking!  So we walked around half a block to the not so busy side of the fieldhouse and what did we see?  My favorite!  Tour buses!!!

Yes! We're here!  I've seen a few different events in this venue over the years.  It was built maybe 12-15 yrs ago?

One of my concerns was standing outside in the 32 degree weather for more than 2 hrs.  But we came in the least popular doors and was surprised that we were the last ones to get inside the building until the doors opened officially at 5!  We got there at 3 and it was perfect timing!  You could have paid a much bigger price and gotten in at 3:30, but it was still general admission.  We did still have to wait for the doors to open, but at least we were inside.  Plus, we got to go through security first, and that cut out time when the doors officially opened.  It was a cash only event, so they just put in a bucket, security scans a barcode to keep track of numbers and away you go!  Security didn't like you to sit on the floor so we did stand up the whole time, but I read a book for a part of it.

Mallary Hope, the 2nd artist who would be performing, came out to the crowds and did a little sing along!  How cool!  That was so sweet of her!  She also recorded us for her Instagram, so I could to watch it from her point of view later.  She said that if you purchase either $60 worth of merchandise at her table, or one hat that has a "lucky" piece of paper inside it, then you could go for a backstage tour.  Neat!  We didn't buy anything, but I kind of like how all the artists have their own "tricks" to sell their merch.  It's very, very important for them to sell merch because sometimes, it's their gas money to get home that very night.  Probably not with these guys since they travel together, but I worked some merch tables in college and those guys did need that money that day.  As a home based business owner, I totally get it.  I just don't need more stuff cluttering up my house, although I did let Benaiah buy some drum sticks (which he will pay be back for).
Mallary Hope Singing in the Concourse

Because I thought we were going to be outside, I wore my heavy fleece tights under my jeans and my heaviest sweater, the "Mom" sweater.  I was so hot!  I had also brought a scarf and of course my hat, so I had to keep track of everything.  I'm so glad I brought the sweater though, because it was like I was bringing my mom along to the boys' first concert! Well, Benaiah went to see Michael W. Smith with me when he was 4 or 5, but this is a big deal first concert for him and Justin.  My mom took me to my first concert, Michael W. Smith, when I was almost 12 years old.  We sat in the nosebleed seats of the "Change Your World" tour which was THE BIGGEST tour Michael has ever done, selling out arenas, because he had jumped to the secular market for a bit (so did Amy Grant).  Side note: I just recently saw an ad from back in 1993 of his album selling at Target!  Wow!  You don't see that kind of ad today!  That concert was formative in starting my love affair with concerts, lol.  And Michael W. and not liking DC Talk's "rap" music, lol.  Great times!

Some of the crazies!  Benaiah, Kendrell (neighbor to Strunks), Ethan, and Connor.  Benjamin and Kaylin were also sick.  Not pictured is the Strunks' foreign exchange student, Norah, and her boyfriend (who might not be a Christian).  Well, Kendrell might not be either, but he's been friends with the Strunks for years and comes to youth group often.  He seemed to know the songs of a couple of the bands.  Yes, the other kids are TALLER than Benaiah, meaning they are all like 6 ft tall!  They were my bodyguard all evening, lol.

And shrimpy Justin, bored to tears waiting in line, pulled out his DS that he brought with him with permission.  And he loves that Camp Half-Blood shirt he made himself as costume.  And his Minecraft jacket.  He's still oh so innocent.  And less than an inch away from my height!

We weren't sure how the crowds were going to be going in, so Benaiah did his big brother thing and held onto Justin.  At least with all the kids being tall, I could find them easily.  They navigated the crowds and I just followed.  In fact, Ethan and Conner forged ahead to get our seats!

And check out these seats!  There were floor seats of course, but then there's 3(!!!!) banks of seats going way, way up into the nosebleeds!  We were in the FIRST one!  This is where the Pacers play, so just think how close we would be to them.  I think this is also where the hockey team plays as well.  I, of course, would have loved to be on the floor because I like to be part of the action, but for general admission I was pretty content with these!  I didn't have to watch the screens too closely because I could see what they bands were doing, well, sort of, lol.

I'm going to see if I can't match up artists with pictures, because I want to give even the newbies some love.  I did take a picture of everybody though.  This is Westover.  I think each band played maybe 3 songs until we got to NewSong, Building 429 and Skillet.  These guys were your basic adult pop kind of music.  Nothing terribly special although they did a song while sitting in computer chairs and changing position with the beats of the song kind of like that group on YouTube called OK Go that do all those incredibly coordinated music videos. 

Here's Mallary Hope again.  She likes to sing worship, mostly, so pretty tame.  I'm very, very happy about the variety we got to hear all in one place.  It's a great way to introduce kids to many genres.  WinterJam has been going on for about 10 years, with 40+ cities per year now.  It was born out of NewSong, who formed in 1981, wanting to reach a younger audience and give new bands a platform for exposure.  There have been quite a few big names in Christian music that got there start right there on that stage.  They said that the bands that are on this stage tonight already have a large group of people investing them financially, physically, mentally, and spiritually.  I.e., they've been proven to be good by their fellow Christian music industry people.  I can remember how Michael W. has and still does do that for newer bands.  Well, he has had DCTalk, Jars of Clay, Third Day, Jordan Feliz (who sang tonight), and many others open for him and many of them now headline their own gigs.  Mentors and mentees.  The Christian music industry does have it's flaws as everything does, but I just heard TobyMac explain in an interview, that there's still an element of "we are here to help each other not compete with one another" and that they are still friends with each other, texting each other "do you want to come tour with me?" "Not this time, I've got this other gig going on over here right now.  Next time though!"  Just think about how DCTalk split up, and now Michael Tait leads Newsboys, and how they are all still friends.  And that's because their common purpose is to meet people where they are and to preach the Gospel directly and indirectly through music and lyrics, as well as their own testimonies.  All for God's glory of course.
Mallary Hope Performance

It's very hard to capture a panoramic view because the lights bounce around so much and my hand wasn't so steady.  I took one that was way worse than this during the main show.

No one wanted to get a selfie with me, boo!  Side note: the Strunks and Benaiah have these huge bellowing voices and I think that the mom and her two 10-12 yrs next to her were not so happy when the boys screamed.  And they are that loud all the time!  Their loud voices paid off though when we were walking by the comedian on the way out after the concert and they turned around and said, "Hey John!" and then made a "dab" motion at him and he did it back at them!  Crazy, crazy boys!  They embarrass me sometimes, too!

I stole this from an Instagram story off of the WinterJamtour account I think.  Nice view!  Several artists took videos and pics from stage or next to it if they were watching their fellow artists.  They are all doing that now and I LOVE it because I love seeing the "behind the scenes" life. You get to "know" the artists in a whole different way.  Like the main singer in Skillet added some more ink to his leg while he was home last week.  He's a comic book nerd and has tatoos of not just Marvel characters but all kinds of things like a huge lion on his shoulder/forearm.  And he wears all black.  And no, his parents never approved of any of that when he was growing up.  Yes, he's always grown up in church and from his testimony, I don't think he's ever fallen away from the church.  Breaking the stereotypes, that's for sure.  He does have a powerful testimony and a love for preaching.  It's fun to watch him.  And then there's Mandisa.  She's a heavy set African American, probably a few years younger than me and she is a HOOT, I tell ya!  A hoot!  She's a lover of all people and all fun, and just goes for it.  She's had her insecurities, too, but she just loves to love on people.  Sweet, sweet girl!

Dan Bremmes, a one man band, kind of hip hop.  One thing that all the artists did was play MC throughout the evening, promoting each other or sponsors like Liberty University, Holt Ministries (like Compassion International, so sponsoring a child), getting people to text a word to a phone number to be entered into a contest to go to Israel or backstage or WinterJam gear.  We had a lot of "commercial" breaks in between sets so the artists could get set up.  It helped give our ears a break, too, which, to be honest, was quite nice!  I LOVE loud music!  In fact, I didn't use the earplugs I brought, but the boys did.  Just that huge wall of sound helps to drown out the pressure of the world and let's me escape for awhile.  I didn't even want to check my phone for emails and such!  Well, I did once or twice otherwise it was going to take forever to do it when I got home.  But I kept most of my apps on silent because I didn't want them to drain my battery power.  I did have an emergency charger with me though and used a bit of that.  I'll explain more later, but the bass was so heavy our whole bodies thumped and we weren't even moving!  And then we were told to jump and I could feel the CONCRETE stands moving under me (I don't jump anymore, it hurts too much later, but I did a lot of bending my knees with the rhythms, lol).  Crazy good fun!
Dan Bremmes

Jordan Feliz!  He's now a much more well known up and comer thanks to Michael W. having him last year on tour.  I knew nothing about him before then.  He works within my favorite genre pop/Christian (soft) rock (which typically is much tamer than hard rock like Skillet.)  He song "River" is extremely popular right now.  But he's got some great catchy songs, too.  And an iconic wide brimmed hat he wears to keep his long curly hair in place.  He's got a great following already.  And I think he was a contestant or won one of those talent show TV shows kind of things, like the Voice, or America's Got Talent, or American Idol.  Maybe just a contestant.  Not sure though.
Jordan Feliz - Beloved

And the light show begins!  What a show!  Benaiah was telling me that he and Matt, his mentor in tech, were discussing how lights are done during concerts.  Well, I had no idea, but there is a "flash and trash" method where you move the lights around in no real plan just to be showy.  It's down by the newer artists to "cover up bad music" or to enhance the music enough to get people to pay attention, vs. doing an acoustic basic set.  We don't use that much lighting at our church, but use the basic changing of colors sometimes towards the stage, never away from it like this.  Then there's the highly choreographed light show that makes a ton of difference to the experience.  So, while I'm over there listening to the actual words and music, Benaiah is trying to figure out what kind of light set up they have.  Good grief!  Once a techie, always a techie.  He could always do what I dreamed of doing and be a roadie!!  We were trying to figure out today if they have one of stage, lights, and sound equipment or two because how they can pack up all of this, get on the road, unpack it and do it again in 24 hrs?  Some paid people, lot of volunteers at the venue.  I don't think they would have enough money for more than one set though.  They just did a 4 night run from Ft. Wayne (where Justin and I will be for Newsboys) to Cleveland, to Indy, and then to Detroit.  All of the artists will probably fly home tomorrow from Detroit, but the tech crew will keep going for the next leg.  I'm sure they also have shifts so they can go see their families once a week or maybe every other week, too.  Road life can be very tough.  I think Mallary Hope has a 2 yr old at home.  That's why female artists typically don't last very long or do very short tours after they get married and start having kids, at least in the Christian music industry.  And some artists will take their kids with them for a few of the dates when the kids are older.  Kind of like one on one daddy daughter dates (Matthew West just took his girls with him to Seaworld to sing there today).  Just like ministry, or the military, or even secular jobs, there are sacrifices the family makes (willingly and no so willingly) and there's a balance to it all.  That is a topic I struggle with, but thankfully Jared hasn't traveled physically very much.  His jobs have been slightly demanding at times.  Slightly, and usually his choice.
Jordan Feliz - Down to the River

Trying to get close up pictures is nearly impossible sometimes.  If you look towards the top of the picture, you can see Jordan in the big jumbotron screen with his hat and guitar.  They used those screens pretty heavily like we do at church to allow people to see the preacher more easily and they also used it for lyrics or music videos they wanted to play, as well as backdrops.

So much light!

Ethan loves to sing and knew a ton of the artists and their songs.  Believe it or not, these boys did dance and got really into it!

Gorgeous light show!

All the newest rage is to use your phone's flashlight to make a sea of "candles."  It is pretty neat to see all these people waving their cell phones, but silly at the same time. 

A panoramic photo gone wrong because of the constant movement of the lights!

Next up was this young lady from Indiana, who was on the Voice I think, named Addison Agen  She was kind of folksy. 

Next up was NewSong, who puts all this talent together in one place.  They originally formed in 1981, and there's at least one founding member still in the band.  They reminded me of the group 4Him, with 4 part harmonies and Christian pop music.  Catchy music for sure, and if they had played longer, I probably would have recognized more of their music.
Newsong - I Am A Christian

NewSong was the first group to really use the lights and stage fog.
Newsong (watch for our boys dancing)


They would walk the lead singer up the front of the catwalk during the chorus and then walk back during the verses.

Nice to see those teens worshipping next to me.

Nice guitar work!  They also all played a horn like trumpet or trombone, together.  Since they are all nearly Michael W. Smith's age, there set wasn't as intense as some of the others.

But this element was one of the coolest things I've ever seen!  I am wondering if any of our tech people at church saw this and would try to replicate it. 

And then they layered this pictures of Jesus (on the jumbo screen) with the cross.  So neat!  And being that it's now two days after the event, I can't remember the song they were singing.

Nick Hall, the speaker of the evening was quite good and I could see him be a speaker at CIY MOVE with all of interactive props and straight talk.

So he was using the ladder to explain that you can't keep one foot on the ladder of faith and one foot off and in the world or you'll lose your balance.  Also, when you take steps closer to God in your faith, you get closer to people, or wanting to share the Gospel with your friends.  He also used a volunteer and dressed him in a different clothes and had him carry a weighted down bag holding bricks with the labels, "guilt," "shame," "fear," etc. representing our sin.  Pretty basic, but I loved the props.

Mr. Hip Hop of the evening goes to KB, who was your typically hip hop artist (minus the inappropriate content), lol.  Benaiah likes hip hop, and so does Jared because the lyrics typically go into deeper issues and tell a story.  And I think it was great for the African Americans in our group to have someone that they might relate better to than all of us white folk.  Not that they don't thoroughly enjoy whatever music, but there is some deep rooted cultural differences between all of us.  There just is.  Sometimes, black people just talk and act a certain way, no matter if they grew up in a downtown area or in rich suburbia.   

KB - Sideways

Smokey time!

Now, Jon Crist, the most hilarious HOMESCHOOLED comedian making fun of homeschool and growing up in church you'll ever meet!  Seriously, he made a joke about homeschoolers not knowing what "The Lion King" movie was all about, and both Benaiah and Ethan (who was also previously homeschooled) said they could relate.  Good grief, I didn't shelter you that much, it's on our shelf, we just didn't have an occasion to watch it.  It was one of my sister's favorite movies, and I can quote it and I was homeschooled.  Anyway, he made fun of all kinds of things.  Just look him up on YouTube!  And his routine was just short enough that it wasn't too much for me.  Remember, I don't like it when people are made fun of, even when it's "clean" sarcasm.  But since he was homeschooled, I just tried to ignore his homeschool jokes.
John Crist - Where are the Christians At?

If you look closely, you can see that Mr. Crist put some war paint on his face like they do on Baby Simba in the "baby dedication" at the beginning of "The Lion King" movie.  Yes, the joke was about baby dedications at church.  Oi!  We walked past Mr. Crist on the way out of the event as he was doing a meet and greet and our crazy boys yelled, "Hey, Jon!" and then they "dabbed."  And he slowly did it back!  Dabbing is a craze done at random times where you put one arm straight out and the other arm is bent across your nose, but it's a quick motion.  I think it started with some kid dabbing his runny nose on his sleeve.  Anyway, it was a good thing I was hidden and sandwiched between the tall boys because I was slightly embarrassed.

Kari Jobe was purely worship.  I know she's been around for  a bit, and she does have an incredible voice.  I know her songs that she has written or covered because we often sing them at church.  Her husband writes songs and tours with her as well.
Kari Jobe - The Cross Has the Final Word

Kari Jobe - The Cross Has the Final Word (Benaiah's version)

This could be someone's background on their phone! Lots of worshiping of God going on in this picture.

Then the lead singer from Building 429 gave us a long talk about Holt International, one of the partners for the tour, that is a sponsor a child type of ministry.  I did kind of ignore the talk because I've heard the speech at many, many concerts and we already have sponsored child through World Vision in Canada.  Jared signed us up when he was at a conference representing the school one time.  We don't write to her like we should though.  She's around Keturah's age.  And when he was done talking, he walked around on the floor and up some of the stairwells passing out cards to people who wanted to sponsor a child.  He also sang a song as he did it.  Wow, what long range microphone!

Walked right by us!

Again, I stole this screenshot from the main speaker's Instagram feed.  I'm not sure why he was so far up and I don't know if this was from the nosebleed seats or not, but it could have been!

Taking advantage of the backdrops all around the fieldhouse.

Building 429's turn.  These guys formed in 1999, just at a time where I started fading away from the CCM scene a bit.  Again, I know of them but didn't really know their music.  Lead singer is my age, so in his prime. Great, contemporary Christian pop/rock stuff.
Building 429 - There Is No Such Thing As Impossible

Now some of the bigger props come out with fog and fire!
Building 429 - Light It Up

All 3 of my "boys."  They were dancing and I tried to catch it because I never see that side of the Johnson men, but Benaiah saw me and stopped.  Justin had taken a break at this point and played on his DS during Kari Jobe and a good portion of Building 429.  I think he was just getting tired and bored. But he perked right up when it was time for Skillet.
Building 429 - Not Where I Belong (you can hear Benaiah singing)

Then the guy from NewSong came out and shared a testimony of how a boy in the audience he knew that needed Jeuss, ignored the whole concert until Skillet talked about algebra coming from the devil.  The boy related to that, perked up, and listened to the singer the rest of the time.  He gave his life to Christ and is fired up, even 5 years later!  And I'm sure there's many more stories like this.  So, it was explained that on top of the entry fee, they were taking up a love offering to help cover all the expenses.  I only had a few dollars in my pocket, but I gave those.  During the offering, Mallary Hope came out sing.

AND THERE IT IS! The moment I was waiting for the WHOLE EVENING!  The lead singer from Skillet came down from the top of the stage on a harness and wires to the song "Invincible!" Don't worry, the lyrics are based on God being invincible and giving us His power to fight.  So, the guy came down, bounced back up, and then finally landed.  Best entry ever!  Ahhhh!!!!!!!  And now Justin won't stop playing that song!
Skillet - Invincible (Benaiah's iPod caught it all!)

Skillet is hard core rock and is certainly not for those with weak hearts.  Owie to the chest! The thumping of the bass and drums was crazy!  First of all, the guitarist and drummer are both women! And they sing, too, while playing of course.  In fact, the drummer did come out to sing to a song and someone else did the drumming, perhaps from another band.  And they had the outfits to match their rock and roll style: all black, crazy colored hair, and the lead (and probably others) have tons of tasteful tattoos.  I mean the girls were definitely modest.  And they didn't have a bunch of piercings except for maybe a nose ring.  Super tasteful, great music, playing to that genre.

I can't get over these lights and the high energy acts that go with them!
Skillet - Lions
Oh, and they took a clue from the Newboy's popular spinning drum set and made their own version!  The drum set, and two other platforms, can go up and down and the drum set one can spin.  It doesn't tilt like the Newboys' one does though.  The drum platform can also be moved out on to the catwalk and back.  Super cool!
Skillet - Waking Up

Pyro! Fire! And lots of it for most of the songs!
Skillet - Hero

Woman guitarist solo, can play that guitar better than a lot of guys and gals.  Purple hair and all, lol.
Skillet - Monster

I did a pretty decent job of focusing my eyes on the stage and not the jumbotron, but I do like to get the jumbotron because my phone's camera doesn't zoom in as much as I want it to.

Fully zoomed out, lots of fire, I know, boring to you, but oh so wonderful for us.  Unforgettable!

Oooo, nice one! Clear and everything!

Skillet and I, lol.

There was this one band member with long hair, a guy, who played on a black cello!  He started out on of their tamer songs with just him and the cello.  Pretty neat element.  I kept thinking how he could have gotten into playing rock and roll music from what I can only assume would be classical training.  Fascinating!

Playing drums and singing AT THE SAME TIME!

THEN, oh my, THEN, the lead and lead girl (I think they are actually married) climbed up onto these trolleys on both sides of the stage and a couple of people walked them around the floor while they sang and greeted the fans.  Again, I've never been to this fancy of a concert with all these set pieces and elements!  I mean I've seen them at the Olympic opening ceremonies or the Superbowl Halftime show, but to be part of an event in person, that's a whole new experience for me!

See, very tasteful clothing.  I do think about these things as I don't want to expose my kids to more than they need to be exposed to.  I want great role models for them, too.  All black doesn't bother me, tattoos don't bother me, and having some piercings don't bother me.  But lowcut tops and mini skirts and super tight jeans do bother me.

And here's the guy coming around from the other side.  So cool!

Sorry, but more lights!  Awesome!

The did have a small stage towards the back of the floor where they did a quieter song called "Stars."  Lead singer also shared his testimony a bit about growing up a Christian, his mom dying of cancer when he was 15, his rotten relationship with his dad, and then coming out of it again.  He never renounced his faith because mom told him to not do it because she was drying/died.  He also choose to do the all black thing, tattoos, etc to spite his dad and/or upbringing I think.  Anyway, again, I've never been to an event with that middle stage before, so it was neat to be a bit closer to some of the artists.

Using the flashlights on their phones, making stars in the audience.  Actually, the way they had the mini stage lit up with those light bulbs reminded me of the Mciahael W. Smith worship album coming out called "Surrounded."  They didn't take a full length video of that worship night, but they recorded the songs that way and the stage was set in the middle of the room, and lighted with those exact same kind of one lightbulb on the end of a pole kind of lights (no typcial lamp shade).

Panorama of the lights!  Also, when Skillet started their set, before the lead came down from the ceiling, they had two other people, possibly other artists, kind of making a mirror effect by one of them "singing" from the catwalk of the main stage and the other mimicking him on the mini stage.  I believe the lead singer was still singing all of it from his place up on high though.  Both guys on the ground wore a hoodie so we couldn't see his face and had a mircophone in his hand.  Pretty neat effect!

Lights, guitars!


Ooooo...nice shot AGAIN!  I'm so happy that I did get a lot of great shots with my phone!

Some of their songs are titled, "Monster" and "Hero" and "Lions."  I think they played the longest with at least 5 songs.

There's the spinning drum set!  It didn't spin as fast as Newboys' one, and not as many times around either, but still cool!
Skillet - Resistance, drum raised up

Skillet - Resistance, ending

Nice shot on the jumbotron of the other guitar player.  And then the show ended with the loudest "boom" I have ever heard inside without a firework going off.  Scared me half to death!
Skillet - Ending/Send off
The mass exodus of people after the concert was fun to navigate.  I'm glad I had all my bodyguards with me.  Seriously, they have done this a few times and I just let them lead the way.  We paused at a couple of booths on the way out, letting Benaiah buy some drum sticks, and went on our merry way, all hyped up!  It was super nice not to have to drive home, too.  I could talk with Lisa and let her navigate the streets.  It wasn't bad though.  She knew the right roads to travel down and didn't use the highway.  The boys (and girl) were giggling and carrying on in the back seats of the 12 passenger van.  Lisa has her own 4 (nearly fully grown kids), plus the foreign exchange student and sometimes transports the kids she babysits if she needs to go somewhere (which is rare I think).

The guys like to get stuck on one word or phrase for a social gathering and tonight's phrase was Connor saying, "Wait, what?! This was Winterjam? We're at Winterjam?"  It gets super annoying after awhile, especially when Justin latched onto it.  And it was colder of course when we left, but it actually felt good because it was pretty warm in the arena.  I did put on and take off my sweater a couple of times, but it was mostly off, which is unusual for me.  I guess I was on my feet enough and moving around, too.  Speaking of, I was very careful not to actually jump like I used to, but bounce up and down on my toes a bit and I swayed a ton.  I also didn't scream much either.  I guess I'm getting older and don't really need to do all of that to enjoy it.  The boys screamed a ton though and made up for my lack of vocalization.
Official poster of tonight's concert showing you all the artists, the price, the location, and sponsors/partners.  It's a lot of information!  And a lot to coordinate I imagine.  Remember, my head is always churning trying to figure out how things are made or put together, including experiences.  But it was an incredible, unforgettable experience!  I'm not sure how next year's show is going to top it!  Newsboys will be a little better in that we'll have much closer seats and I'll know all the songs by heart and I'll be fan girling so hard!  And the light show will be similar, but I don't think they have the whole fire thing, which is just lights and fog a lot of the time.  And Michael W. Smith will be VERY VERY tame compared to both of these other concerts, just like it should be.  Much more subdued with more worship for sure since his new pop record comes out the end of this week and his new worship album comes out the following week.  I best be working my business some more and create some income to cover all of this! But that's what some of those Christmas gifts were for!
****I had to work on this blog post over several days and I'm still not done as I type this!  I want to put in some links to the videos I took and coordinate them with the right pictures/bands, and Abishai's birthday is also this week.  That's why it's taken me so long to get it done!****