Winter Jam at PNC Arena — Raleigh, NC
This concert review originally appeared on Degenrefy.com written by Ash Starkweather
A huge crowd swarmed Raleigh’s PNC Arena early to catch some of their favorite Christian acts at Winter Jam 2015. The tour sells out virtually every stop, and families and friends all gather early to grab their general admission seats for every show on the tour. The chatter in the crowd grew louder and more excited as the line wrapped around the arena before the doors opened.
Veridia [★★★★] started the night off with a four song set promptly at 6pm, so most of the crowd missed a lot of their set before finding a seat. The band’s set was solid and included three tracks off their EP Inseparable and a cover of “I Need Love” by Enter the Worship Circle.
About A Mile [♫♫♫♫♫] came on Immediately after and put on an incredibly energetic but short, four song, set including a cover of the wildly popular 90s hit “Jesus Freak” by DC Talk. They finished their set up with their latest single, “Who You Say You Are.”
Blanca [★★★★★] was the final pre-show act before the official tour lineup hit the stage. Formerly of Group1 Crew she is no stranger to Winter Jam. Bianca had the shortest set of the night, but by the end of her set left the crowd wanting more. She was full of energy, worked the stage, and filled the room with hope.
The countdown appeared on the screen to the official kickoff as the crowd chanted, “5, 4, 3, 2, 1!”
For King and Country [★★★★★] took to the stage sporting keytars, drums, and even a xylophone into their hit single “Fix My Eyes.” They were not on stage long before they fled to the crowd to engage everyone. The band headed to center stage to perform “Shoulders” before heading back to the main stage to finish strong with their hit “Proof of Love.”
Tour veterans Newsong [★★★★] wasted no time and played three powerful songs “You are Faithful,” “Arise my Love,” and “Oceans.” During Oceans (a cover from Hillsong United), Jen Ledger of Skillet came out and performed vocals.
Things got crazy as Family Force 5 [★★★★★] took the stage. You could see that a large amount of the crowd was FF5 fans as they raised their “Chainsaw” fingers and the band opened with “BZRK.” Their set was a full fledge dance party; encouraging fans to go berzerk. During “Cray Button,” the band invited some fans on stage to dance with them and some large balloons that started floating around in the crowd. This was definitely the most fun and energy packed into a set for this tour. They finished strong as the group cranked the “Chainsaw” as FF5 broke into a choreographed dance.
Building 429 [★★★★] started with bright, red banners and through them you could see silhouettes of the members as a drum solo started. When the vocals chimed in, everyone was shocked to see lead singer, Jason Roy center stage literally lit up by his jacket. The entire band made its way center stage to perform “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” when Blanca came out to sing along.
Jeremy Camp [★★★★] hit the stage next to deliver a powerful set. He played seven songs including “He Knows,” ”There Will Be a Day,” “Walk By Faith,” “Overcome,” and more and shared his story of how he lost his wife. He was very encouraging and had the crowd stand as one holding hands with each other.
Francesca Battistelli [★★★★★] took to the stage all smiles as she delivered her uplifting message. She played a five song set, and the crowd seemed to know every line and sang right back to her. The highlight of her set is when she played the song “He Knows My Name” as she put about a dozen of her fan’s names on the screen during the song. Francesca wrapped her set up with a cover of “Holy Spirit.”
Anticipation grew as Skillet [★★★★★] set in for the final performance. Their set started with a video before the screens quickly moved and the band dove right in full force with “Not Gonna Die.” Skillet was the only act that used pyrotechnics, engaging the fans on a new level. Frontman, John Cooper drew the crowd in and asked “Raleigh, every one of you are SICK of something in your life?” Then Skillet launched into “Sick Of It.” They slowed it down for a minute to mix things up with “Awake and Alive” and “Those Nights” before kicking it back up to ten with “Hero” and “Monster.” They finished the night out strong with “Rebirthing.”
Overall Winter Jam is the perfect family or group outing, especially for the price! You see 10 bands play ten short sets of their best material for only ten bucks. Despite the long lines, GA admission, and an enormous crowd, it’s an amazing musical experience.