By Andy Argyrakis, senior music editor, gmc.com
No one needs a reminder that today's economy is tricky, but just because you may be strapped for cash doesn't mean music has to be cut out of the equation. In fact, now more than ever, values are popping up all over the Christian rock scene, particularly when it comes to concerts. So free your mind (and pocketbook) with these top ten ways to rock out like never before this season – and leave with a renewed heart and spirit.
1. Winter Jam
The hands-down leader when it comes to exceptional value is the annual Winter Jam, which only costs $10 with no advance ticket purchases required. Just show up at the door to see the guitar-driven onslaught of Third Day, the always theatrical newsboys (rotating drum kits anyone?), plus Tenth Avenue North, NewSong, Fireflight, speaker Tony Nolan, new band The Sidewalk Prophets, Robert Pierre and Revive. Consider it the ultimate indoor alternative to an all-day summer festival!
2. Rock and Worship Road Show Tour
Running a very close second is this combination of major musical talent all united through a reverential tone. Topping the bill is frequent hit-maker MercyMe, along with alternative rock-worshippers David Crowder*Band. But be sure to arrive early for Family Force 5, known just as much for its bursts of punk and dance as it is the crazy costumes – and the Family Force 5000 – basically a giant, several-hundred-pound drum machine that looks like a Speak & Spell. Other openers include Francesca Battistelli, Fee, Remedy Drive and The Sidewalk Prophets, all for a measly $10.
3. Awake Tonight Tour with tobyMac and Skillet
Starting with his days in dcTalk, there's no arena performer quite like tobyMac. With his break-dancing troupe of instrumentally proficient backers, the rapper is truly energy personified. And he's joined this spring by Skillet, another show-stopping act known for incorporating a top-notch smoke, pyrotechnic and light show into its highly infectious metallic anthems. Tickets start at just $15 with VIP packages available at higher fees, but the latter includes a Q&A with each act.
No faith-based band of the past decade has earned as much crossover appeal as Switchfoot, which explains the mixture of club and theatre shows on this outing in support of last year's blockbuster Hello Hurricane. Regardless of the environment, frontman Jon Foreman may as well be the American version of Bono, while the band is in ultra tight form. Plus, with plenty of hits under its belt, an average of $25 a ticket is a steal of a deal when compared to many other mainstream bands of similar stature.
5. Nothing and Everything Tour with Red
Speaking of moving up in the mainstream, GRAMMY-nominated Red is all over active rock radio with singles from its latest CD Innocence & Instinct. In concert, the group's evolved from simple but snarling rockers to full-fledged entertainers, capable of commanding the most sizeable stadium audiences. At a mere $15 average, alongside fellow acts like Pillar, The Wedding and Me In Motion, it's a hard-rocker's dream come true.
6. Winter Blast Tour with Building 429
In keeping with this season's theme of multi-band bills, Building 429's latest venture seeks to give fans a well-rounded variety for a remarkably reasonable price. With tickets starting around $15, the marathon event features these "Glory Defined" headliners, pop singer/songwriter Britt Nicole, modern rockers MIKESCHAIR, plus introspective duo Chris & Conrad.
7. Jeremy Camp and Adie
He may be best known as the worship leader behind a stable of hits and church standards, while she was the singer of the now defunct but highly respected The Benjamin Gate. It just so happens that Jeremy Camp and Adie are also married (after meeting on the newsboys' previous Festival Con Dios tour), which makes it all the more natural for them to tour together. For around $20 (give or take a buck or two in either direction), treat yourself to a rare acoustic outing filled with collaborations.
8. The Love and War Tour with BarlowGirl
These girls with guitars really rock, while spreading an assuring message of self-esteem that's just as applicable to the guys as it is to the ladies. Though their sprit and spunk is the main attraction on this $15-ish bill, Stellar Kart is also sure to bring some pop/punk intensity, while VOTA features the charisma of frontman (and former newsboy) Bryan Olesen.
Throughout the 1980s and '90s, Carman commanded every major arena on earth, known for his massive productions loaded with multiple costume changes and elaborate choreography. These days he's dialing down that faith-based version of Las Vegas to this more personal "For-Real/For-Now" storyteller's tour that in most cities is just $10 in advance and $20 at the door.
10. Jon Troast
Indie singer/songwriter Jon Trost is no stranger to the road, performing 100 concerts in 100 days last year, all within the confines of someone's living room. Following that outing, he recorded the quaintly titled Living Room under the direction of heralded producer Mitch Dane (Jars of Clay), which was inspired by that marathon trek and the people he met along the way. Catch the '70s-inspired, Americana-tipped performer touring for free the first half of 2010 in support of the CD.
About the Writer
Andy Argyrakis is a Chicago-based entertainment writer/photographer who appears in the Chicago Tribune, Illinois Entertainer, Daily Journal, Concert Livewire, Hear/Say Magazine and Image Chicago (to name few). His record label writing credits include Warner Brothers, Atlantic, Curb, EMI and Universal, with additional photo credits for Fuse TV, Live Nation, Nikon, Pollstar, Celebrity Access, Paste Magazine, MTV.com and Vibe.com. He's also the author/narrator of "Access Matthews" (an audio CD tracing the career of Dave Matthews Band) and spends considerable time on tour, including outings with Arlo Guthrie, The Guess Who, Madina Lake (on Linkin Park's Projekt Revolution) and Gospel Music Channel's very own "Gospel Dream" (where he served as season one judge).