by Tracy & C.J. Darlington
August 17 & 18
Ski Roundtop, Lewisberry, Pennsylvania
In its 12th year, the Purple Door Arts & Music Festival is like a mini Creation, minus the camping and leaning toward the heavier side of music. Fans from all over the East Coast flocked to Ski Roundtop in Lewisberry, Pennsylvania on August 17th & 18th for a time of great music, art, and fellowship.
The first question you’re bound to ask is, “Why the name Purple Door?” In the festival’s FAQs you’ll find the answer:
“When the founders of the festival were trying to come up with a name for the festival, they had a long list of possible names. There was a bible study that one of the founders of the festival attended, and at this bible study, there was a door. The door was purple. The name Purple Door made it on the list, and the name stuck.”
Founded in 1996 and originally a one-day event held on the grounds of Lancaster Mennonite High School in Lancaster, PA, the festival quickly outgrew that space and in 2000 found its home on the lush grounds of Ski Roundtop. It’s been back every year since, and this year’s lineup featured some of the very best in Christian alternative and hard-rock (with some lighter moments thrown in for good measure).
Friday afternoon festivities began on both the Main and Gallery stages. After the Tragedy, The Apathy Eulogy, After the Sirens, and House of Heroes hit the gallery stage and Between The Two, The Showdown opened the Main Stage. By 7:55 the sun was setting, creating a perfect backdrop for Cool Hand Luke’s set.
Anberlin isn’t a “Christian band” per se, but their songs have hit the rock charts on many Christian radio stations. “Paperthin Hymn” from Never Take Friendship Personal and “Godspeed” from their latest album Cities are two that are probably the most familiar. And the band definitely knows what it means to put on a rock show. Lead singer Stephen Christian hardly stayed still as he belted out the songs. At one point he even jumped down from the stage and hung over the crowd as he sang.
During the stage change for Relient K, artist and speaker Eric Timm wowed and inspired us with his presentation “Repainting Jesus” (see pictures at right). In under thirty minutes he painted and spoke a challenging message about showing our friends the real Jesus—a man of love and forgiveness for everyone, even those deemed unlovely by the church.
For many attendees, Relient K was the clear draw of the night. Back and kicking after the unfortunate fire that destroyed the band’s bus and most of their equipment last June after the Creation East festival, you’d never know such a tragedy happened as their encouraging and fun concert was virtually the same as at Creation. Songs included “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, “Must Have Done Something Right”, “In Love with the Eighties”, a cover of Tears for Fears’ “Head Over Heels”, and much more. During one song they pulled a guy named Lucas from the crowd who got to play guitar with the guys.
Saturday brought the opening of the art gallery and a community art project called the “Collaborative Art Installation” in which anyone could make their own stencils and help build a 3D sculpture of painted die-cut cards designed by artists Charles and Ray Eames. (See our pictures of the art found at Purple Door at right.)
And that’s a cool thing about Purple Door. It’s not all about the music. The festival’s tagline “A Celebration of Arts and Faith” makes this clear. Several seminars also bear this out. Eric Timm’s “No One Underground” talked about a biblical approach in creating visual media in a post modern world. Chris Macintosh shared on “Christian Music as An Art Form Rather Than Simply A Means of Propaganda”.
Another highlight Saturday was the skate park . All day people young and old on boards, bikes and blades got to enjoy their sport with Quarter Pipes, a Pyramid, Flat Boxes, Rails, and more.
With a full day of music you can bet there was a band for just about everyone. The HM Magazine stage showcased those with more of an edge including The Wedding, Inhale Exale, August Burns Red, The Devil Wears Prada, The Chariot, Haste the Day and Norma Jean. The Gallery Stage kept up with its more mellow fare of Derek Webb, Denison Witmer, Farewell Flight, Colour Revolt, and more.
But the Main Stage was where you needed to be to hear Spoken, John Reuben, Disciple (lead singer Kevin Young is pictured at left), and As Cities Burn. For the evening, Red rocked the house and as seems to be the reputation of this band, somebody got hurt. Yep, guitarist Anthony Armstrong did it again—he and his guitar slammed into Michael Barnes’ head and there was bloodshed. Through most of the songs poor Michael had a drop of blood dripping down his cheek. Guys, there’s got to be a better way to emphasize your band’s name! (Read our interview with Red here to hear about more of these “incidents”.)
Perhaps the lightest in tempo of the bands performing on the Main Stage, Leeland gave us a worshipful concert, performing the likes of “Tears of the Saints”. One security guard was even seen standing with his hands raised in praise.
By the time nine o’clock rolled around, just mentioning Family Force 5 by name sent the crowd into screaming and yelling fits. The guys from Georgia who have wowed all ages with hits like “Luv Addict”, “Kountry Gentleman”, “Drama Queen” and “Earthquake” have built up quite a following. What’s really interesting about this band is that so many people, even those who wouldn’t normally admit to listening to harder acts, absolutely love them anyway. They have something about them that reaches beyond age and musical styles. And of course, they didn’t disappoint. Frontman Solomon Olds (aka Soul Glow) even managed to get the whole stadium into a crouch before they performed “Supersonic”. And as usual, by the end of the concert the stage was full of revelers dressed in helmets and masks and any sort of bling they could get their hands on. One guy wore a Holstein Cow suit, and another was dressed as a rabbit.
Mewithoutyou had big shoes to fill as the festival closer, but they managed to keep the crowd’s attention after such an exciting FF5 show. It might’ve been better to switch the times of these bands, but that’s hardly a complaint for a festival that’s quickly becoming the highlight of many East Coasters' summers.
All photos copyright TitleTrakk.com. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.
Tracy Darlington is a freelance writer, and her work has appeared in Brio, Breakaway, YS, CCM Magazine, Insight, Susie Magazine, and other publications. She has interviewed countless Christian musicians including Rebecca St. James, Delirious, Newsboys, Leigh Nash, Barlowgirl, Krystal Meyers, Joy Williams, Pillar, Michelle Tumes, and many others. In her spare time she can be found riding horses or listening to music and sipping a Venti 3-shot sugar-free vanilla latte. Visit her online at her blog where she talks about Music, God, dogs and coffee. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.
C.J. Darlington is the award-winning authof of Thicker than Blood, Bound by Guilt, and Ties that Bind. She is a regular contributor to Family Fiction Digital Magazine and NovelCrossing.com. A homeschool graduate, she makes her home in Pennsylvania with her family and their menagerie of dogs, a cat, and a paint horse named Sky. Visit her online at her author website. You can also look her up at Twitter and Facebook.