Friday, August 12 was Day Two of the 2010 Unity Christian Music Festival, held annually at Heritage Landing in Muskegon, Michigan. The festival has been a major attraction for Contemporary Christian Music lovers for the past ten years, and my husband and I finally made the 90-minute drive up from our town to spend a couple of evenings checking out what it had to offer. We enjoyed the artists who had performed on Day One of the festival, and looked forward to the events of Day Two.
Friday was still hot and muggy, but thankfully it was more cloudy and breezy than the previous evening. Not having to deal with the sun beating down on us was a blessing, and as the evening progressed the breeze felt even cooler.
We arrived at the venue close to 4 p.m. when the gates opened, parked in the same spot right across the street as we had the previous evening, and did not have to wait in line until we actually got to the ticket gate. It was again a fast entry into the venue for everyone, and we found seating spots near the same area we had sat in the previous evening. After setting up our chairs, we went to one of the merchandise tents to check out the CDs, T-shirts, and other stuff that was for sale.
We then went to check out the teen area behind the main stage area, where another stage was featuring local and lesser-known bands. There was another area set up as a “lounge” for teens to hang out and talk as well. Next to the teen area were several activities set up for younger kids to participate in, such as a climbing wall, craft area, and different games.
Past that area were several booths representing different nonprofit organizations and ministries in the area. There was also a baby-changing station where parents could take care of their wee ones; mothers could nurse their babies there as well. This was sponsored by the local hospital. There were also many porta-potties available around the venue for people to use when the need arose.
We walked on to the Unity X-Change tent for another seminar, this one by Kristine McGuire. She shared her experience of leaving her Christian faith and getting involved in occult practices such as witchcraft and ghost hunting for several years before returning to her faith. This was a very interesting and informative presentation, and I will go into more detail of what she shared in a separate article.
Midway through this seminar my husband decided to go check out the action at the teen stage again, as he wanted to hear some of the lesser-known bands, but I stayed and listened to Kristine McGuire through her whole presentation.
As I walked back from the seminar tent to meet my husband at our chairs, solo performer Josh Wilson was finishing his hit song, “Before the Morning,” a song of encouragement that I love. I would have liked to hear Josh do his whole set, but since we had seen him in concert before, I opted for the seminar instead. I will say that Josh is a very talented and engaging singer-songwriter, and I hope at some time I will have the opportunity to enjoy a live performance by him again. At least I got a couple photos while he was finishing up his time on stage!
Off we went to get some supper, and after eating we ventured back to the “A” stage where the teens were listening to Grand Rapids band Uncommon Road finish their set. Hardcore band Disciple was next up, and all I can say about them was they were extremely loud! I literally had my fingers in my ears, I could not stand the volume. The kids in the audience were batting beach balls back and forth and up on the stage where the band was playing; one of the guitarists quit playing to punch a ball back into the crowd. We did not stay long to listen, thankfully.
As we meandered back to the main stage area, Sidewalk Prophets were finishing up their set with their recent hit, “The Words I Would Say.” Again, I would have liked to hear their whole set…..maybe next time. I did get a couple of photos of them before they left the stage. (I was able to get many photos of all the bands who played Day One and Day Two, was fortunate to be able to get close to the stage to do so. Hopefully I will have some nice additions to my concert photo album!)
Texas-based band Salvador was next up on stage, and the audience was treated to a lengthy sound check that could have served as part of the actual show. This was Salvador’s fourth time to perform at Unity, more than any other band that has played there. With their mix of pop, rock and Latin influences, they were a unique addition to the musical stew offered up over the course of the four-day festival. Loved the percussion, and the horn section was great also. Some of the songs they performed were “How Far is Heaven,” “Shine,” and “Aware.”
After a presentation for the relief organization Compassion International, the band Casting Crowns took the stage to round off the evening. At this point, Heritage Landing was absolutely packed, and the audience was pumped. The band cut loose with rocker “Til the Whole World Hears,” then launched into “If We are the Body.” The audience was wholeheartedly singing along, hands in the air. Throughout the set, the members of Casting Crowns not only put on an excellent show, but they set the tone for worship as well with songs such as “Praise You in This Storm,” “Who Am I,” “East From the West,” and “Voice of Truth.” Lead singer Mark Hall also shared his story of the adjustments that came in the aftermath of he and his wife adopting a little girl from China, and the lessons that God taught him through that process.
Something unique during the Casting Crowns performance was that the song lyrics were displayed on the three large screens near the stage so that audience members could sing along, much the same as what many churches do during the praise and worship part of the service.
The only thing that detracted from this particular performance was the somewhat muddy keyboard mix, and the violin played by Melodee DeVevo could have been turned up. However, in the grand scheme of things, those were small glitches. Casting Crowns definitely brought a spirit of worship and praise to God with their songs, and it was a great way to end the evening.
I was very impressed by how things were run at Unity, and how organized it all was. The volunteers and the emcees all did a wonderful job, and all the bands were very professional in their performances. One thing I would like to see done differently, however, is to have the seminars start after the opening praise session with the Unity Choir, so that everyone has the opportunity to participate in the praise and worship at the beginning and not have to miss out. I think that is an important way to start the festival off, and it would be nice not to have to choose between that and going to a seminar that interests me.
I was sad we had to leave for home on Saturday instead of take in that day’s musical offerings. I am looking forward to seeing what next year’s festival is going to hold in store, and am definitely interested in attending again. For any of my readers who enjoy contemporary Christian music, making the Unity Christian Music Festival a vacation destination would be a great idea. Check out Unity’s Facebook page to see photos from this year’s events.
Resources: First-hand account of the 2010 Unity Christian Music Festival.