Sunday, August 31, 2008

Revelation Generation 2008

Yesterday my friends and I piled into a car and went to Revelation Generation on Agape Farm in Frenchtown, New Jersey. I had gone last year and had a blast, so it was the event of this summer that I just couldn't miss!

Even though everybody was at my apartment promptly at 8 AM, it took us 40 minutes to configure Jon's car for maximum people-and-food capacity. He had to remove 1 giant subwoofer and 2 skateboards from his trunk and then double-check that his low-riding car wouldn't bottom-out with so many people in it. When he gave us the go-ahead for launch, our good friend Jill Garman (the GPS navigator) managed to get us there just in time to catch the second song of August Burns Red's set.

We picked some prime real estate near the Philadelphia Stage to set up our giant canopy tent, laid down a network of blankets beneath it, and--gradually over the course of the day--gained friends by way of the tent's multiple near-collapses as the wind blew. After many repeated heartfelt thanks and promises to the unsuspecting passers-by who suddenly found themselves grabbing poles and helping us to keep things up, we explained that they could join us any time for shade from the sun or covering from the potential rain (which thankfully never came).

I ran into my old friend Chris Kenna, his fiance Bronwynn, my friend John Downing, his new girlfriend, and their entourage of friends who were all thankful to make their home spot under our canopy tent, too.

I skipped The Myriad to visit the merch tent, and there I bought a "To Write Love on Her Arms" t-shirt because what Christian concert experience is complete without making a contribution to a worthwhile cause?

Jon requested that I get some video of him hardcore dancing in the pit of The Devil Wears Prada set, so we buried ourselves deep within the crowd. Not only did I catch on film some of his best thrashes yet, but I also managed to snag some free passes to attend an interview with band afterwards. Score! Clearly it pays to smile at random people you don't know. :-) You never know who's gonna hook you up!

I skipped the Norma Jean set to see if I could schmooze my way into the tickets-only interview tent with Flyleaf, who ranks very high in my All-Time Favorite Bands List. And I did!! They took questions from the audience, and I was deeply affected by the endurance of faith that has motivated Lacey Mosley to write her songs.

She spoke of the meaning behind her song "Cassie," which was named after the girl whose last words were "Yes!" when asked if she believed in God and then was subsequently shot and killed at Columbine. As I thought about that moment throughout the day, I realized how beautiful it was that--in her last moments on earth--Cassie was reminded who she was living and dying for, even though the reminder came from the mouth of her assailant who questioned her.

Lacey also spoke about her new "Beulah" tattoo on her forearm, which--she told us--symbolized a promise she made to God (inspired by Isaiah 62) that she would be married to God and always love him FIRST, believing--in her mid-twenties--that perhaps she was called to the single life. But her story gets even more beautiful because, a few years after she made that promise, God introduced her to the man she will soon marry this October. How divinely orchestrated! Just as soon as one surrenders all to the Father's Will, He takes over and does with our lives precisely what is best for us. Whew! Thank goodness we do not have to be in control.

Much of what Lacey said to us in that interview resonated in my heart, and I was glad to be able to slip on my sunglasses afterwards because, at times, I had to concentrate to hold back little tears of happiness and relief.

I ran into Chris by himself at the lemonade stand, and we had a pretty deep conversation for what must have been a solid 30 minutes. (Waiting in line was at least half of that.) There are just some people that when I see them I want to tell everything to, and Chris is just one of those people to me, for some reason.

Before long, it was time to find Jon and use our tickets to get into the interview with the Devil Wears Prada. And although I enjoyed it, Jon was into them more, and so when I heard Sixpence None the Richer launch into "Kiss Me," I politely ran off (as planned) and was pleased to see that Leigh Nash's voice hasn't changed a bit since 1994. She still sings just as sweetly.

Jesse got to talk to Shawn McDonald for a while, and I think it made not only his day but his lawn chair's day as well. :-)

Eventually, the whole bunch of us were gathered together again, this time being goofy in some open space on the grass by the New York Stage where we posed for silly pictures and Jon break-danced (or would it be broke-danced, to be consistent with the past-tense?) to the variety of songs that TobyMac and his entourage pump out. But, after a while, I suggested we leave and secure ourselves some up-close spots near the Philadelphia Stage where Flyleaf would be performing in just 20 minutes. So we did.

Their set was magnificent, quite possibly the best authentic live performance of a rock band that I have seen in the last decade, if one were to judge them based solely on stage presence and REAL emotion, since the theatrics that come from pyrotechnics and crazy lights (the likes of which I've seen in U2, Smashing Pumpkins, and others in the last decade) can do a lot to enhance and perhaps deceive. Flyleaf played every song that I had hoped to hear, and I had a great view which got better over time, as my enthusiasm only grew and drew me finally to the position of standing behind the person who was literally at the front rail. :-)

When their set concluded and Andy asked me if the summer was all that I could have hoped for, I had to give an unequivocal yes. It was a rollercoaster of emotions, most definitely, but it was also a gift of time for which I am thankful. I had time for reflection, time for relaxation, time for recalibration, and time for renewal. I had made several new friends but had grown to appreciate my old ones even more. I had learned a lot about myself and learned more about my God. And I am thankful for how this makes me refreshed and ready to serve others as this new academic year begins.

In the dark, we tore down our tent while listening to the set from As I Lay Dying, and Jon made the most of his last experience in the pit while wearing glow stick bracelets around his wrists.

Then we tailgated in the parking lot, feasting on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chugging water straight from the gallon. And we drove out of the parking lot with Jon's car making the same ice-cream-truck jingles as it did when we entered.