Kathy Troccoli / Petra at the Fair

By Steve Butler

They call it "the crunch zone." It's a designated area inside Cardinal Stadium that boasts some of the biggest, loudest and most sold-out U of L Cardinal football fans. But on a hot summer night in August, "the crunch zone" was filled with an estimated 9,000 fans who delivered an electrochemistry of their own. Not for the men in red and black, but instead for contemporary Christian music's leading rock group, Petra and their opening act, Kathy Troccoli.

Troccoli, a native New Yorker, has had an incredible year despite her disappearance from the Christian music scene for nearly a decade. Her lack of stage time was evident, especially through the first three songs in her set, but don't count the girl out. She hasn't topped the CCM and R&R charts by mistake. Some things just take time to develop and even though some transitions were a little tough, her rich vocal talents told a different story. She was ready for the night and as soon as "Everything Changes" came up on the playlist it all came together — the artist, the audience and the evening.

From that point on, K.T. made it a night to remember. She took the time to reminisce a little about her life and some of the struggles that have drawn her nearer to God, not further away. Experiences that have given birth to the lyrics on her latest project For those of us who have seen Troccoli in the past and now in 1992, it's very obvious she has found her direction musically.

Before, she was the energetic, zealous young star on the horizon. Now, she's found the maturity that will take her music and lyrics to a whole new level. It looks like a bright future ahead for K.T.

After a brief intermission, the crowd turned up the intensity a notch or two, waiting for the opportunity to tap into the "Unseen Power" of Petra's new tour. As the stadium went dark and the stage lights beckoned their appearance, everyone knew that something incredible was about to take place.

And it did!

From their opening song, "Destiny," to other Petra favorites such as "Beyond Belief," "I Am on the Rock," "Creed" and "Armed and Dangerous," Bob Hartman and company showed why Petra has remained on the cutting edge of contemporary Christian rock music for the past 20 years.

The show contained a good sampling of three Petra projects, including Unseen Power, Beyond Belief and Petra Praise. At one point, lead singer and stage captain John Schlitt joined bass player Ronny Cates for a little friendly audience competition as they orchestrated a Sunday morning round. But the talent search didn't end there. The next ten minutes kept the audience on their feet as Schlitt turned the spotlight on the musicians in the group. Cates, Hartman, John Lawry and Louis Weaver didn't disappoint their captain, or the crowd.

Since the Kentucky State Fair doesn't track gate admissions on their free concerts, no one knows for sure if the night registered a record crowd. But there is one thing for certain: Cardinal Stadium was filled with electricity that night and die-hard Petra fans got much more than their money's worth . . . even if there had been an admission price.