Newsong '95

By Robert Gruber

What an incredible line-up for an outdoor music festival -- big names, like Geoff Moore and the Distance, 4HIM, Audio Adrenaline, Al Denson, Guardian, and PFR, along with newcomers Big Tent Revival and the Brothers. What a wonderful site to hold such a fest -- beautiful Camp Loucon, a Methodist church retreat near Leitchfield, Kentucky; surrounded by huge trees. All in all, the August 11-12 festival looked fantastic -- on paper.

The reality was HOT! With a heat index soaring into the hundreds, even little kids were overcome by the oppressive heat and humidity at Newsong. That didn't turn the crowds away, though. Plenty of folks were brave enough to stick it out. I only wish I'd been one of 'em. Flawed travel arrangements and a busy work schedule prevented me from arriving at Newsong '95 until mid-afternoon Saturday.

I arrived just in time to catch PFR, one of CCM's best and brightest rock bands. Because of the humidity, they had a hard time keeping their instruments in perfect tune. Still, they held it together long enough to play almost an hour of their cool originals, including "Merry Go Round," "Walk Away" and "Wonder Why." Normally an acoustic song, guitarist Joel Hanson and company pulled off a brilliant electric version of their mega-hit "That Kind of Love" after much coaxing from the crowd (which sang along to every line).

During PFR's set, huge beach balls and water flew through the crowd. I noticed that a large contingent of young teen and pre-teen girls were moving in, and I didn't know why until after PFR finished and the Brothers took the stage. The girls went nuts! I mean, a DC 10 could have landed on that field and it wouldn't have been heard over the screaming. The Brothers are three extremely young rappers and dancers, and apparently, after having played a set the night before, they literally became overnight superstars (at least at Newsong!). Though quite good at dancing, the Brothers should probably let their voices complete the pubescent change before attempting those high notes.

I had a chance to browse through the merchandise tent, where the guys from PFR were busy signing autographs and talking to people, before Guardian came on and did a tight, flawless set of their riff-heavy rock 'n' roll. Singer Jamie Rowe was in good voice, and the rest of the band didn't seem the least bit affected by the sweltering heat as they blasted through classics and new songs (from their upcoming album Buzz). Sadly, I didn't have the stamina to stick it out, and left Camp Loucon midway through their set. As a result, I missed Audio Adrenaline and 4HIM, two acts I'd really wanted to see.

In addition to the music, a number of Christian education seminars were held at Newsong, some of them taught by members of the various bands. Though incredibly hot and sweaty, my experience at Newsong '95 was a blast, and hopefully, next year, it won't be so bad -- weatherwise, that is.