Winter Wonder Slam Tour 2008 - Tobymac, Relient K, Family Force 5, B. ReithBi-Lo Center, Greenville, SC
Review and photos by Susan Lloyd
As I raced up I-26
to reach Greenville, SC in time for the start of TobyMac’s Winter
Wonder Slam Tour, I thought again of what a dynamic ticket the producers
of the tour had assembled. Newcomer B. Reith
joins party band Family Force 5, perennial favorites Relient K, and of course
tobyMac for the Slam’s Tour, this one being it’s fourth. The
tour supports Toys for Tots by giving concert goers an opportunity to bring
a new, unwrapped toy to the concert venue. Crunk, soul, hip-hop, funk, rap,
Toby has it covered this year as far as genre representation. Unfortunately,
even with great traffic flow and my best efforts to arrive before the 7PM
start time, I arrived after B. Reith’s set. I was disappointed to miss
this promising new artist who combines the jazzy R and B vocals with clever
rap skills that rival those of KJ52. However, Family Force 5 was only mid-way
through their second song, and the crowd was already on fire.
FF5 has new songs and new toys to play with during their set. Nadaddy, FF5’s keyboard genius has a large amp-like instrument that he kneels to play. He banged his fist on the large hand-sized buttons on the face to the instrument to create atmospheric sounds that enhanced new songs like “Radiator”, “Back off the Wall”, and “Wake the Dead”. I’m always blown away by the amount of energy that front man Soul Glo Activatur brings to the stage, and he seemed extra frenetic during this set. Of course, no FF5 set list is complete without “Kountry Gentleman”, “Earthquake”, and “Drama Queen”, and these crowd favorites were shouted out by audience members from around the auditorium. Probably the climax of the set was the band’s performance of “Love Addict”. Soul Glo rolled from one side of the stage to the other while Chapstique and Phatty coordinated dance moves with Xanadu. And in the spirit of the season, FF5 performed their outlandish version of Grandma got Run over by a Reindeer. Like I said, these guys are definitely the party band, and they brought the party to the Winter Slam Tour. Good times.
The set change was fast from FF5 to Relient K, and for that I give Premier Productions and the tech crew at the Bi-Lo center full credit. Even with the efficiency of the crew, there was still time for Gabe-real, Tobymac’s wingman, to do an impromptu rap and then introduce Relient K.
I’ve seen Relient K in concert several times, and I’ve always felt the band struggled to bring the energy of their music to their live act. But this time was different. Their set was fun, snarky and surprisingly energetic. Front man Matt Thiessen was in excellent spirits, knocking his sweat into the crowd at the end of Sadie Hawkins Dance and making lame jokes about ‘stage presence (presents)’. He and Matt Hoopes also referred to B.Reith as B.“Wreath” saying that he should be called that throughout the tour since it’s a Christmas tour. They played their way through their set list included “Sadie Hawkins Dance”, “Mood Ring”, “Be My Escape”, and “Who I am Hates Who I’ve Been”. Relient K has reissued their 2007 Christmas album Let it Snow Baby..Let it Reindeer and included several of those songs as well. Their jazz/rock version of Sleigh Ride was accompanied by brand new animated video starring members of RK as bunnies, an angry Snow man, and a cute girl bunny. The most moving point in the set was Matty’s song “I Celebrate the Day” and the lullaby-like “Oh Holy Night”. The crowd sang along with both of these selections and the effect was stirring.
The crowd had been incredibly enthusiastic throughout the entire night, but the electricity of all that crowd participation turned up a notch when tobyMac and the Diverse City Band hit the stage. Their stage set up is a little different from the Portable Sounds tour. Lights are different . . . no more full panel lights at the center. They’ve been replaced by a half wall of lights with the drum kit in the center, DJ maj on the left, and D-Dub on keys on the right hand side. I’ve seen tobyMac four times this year, and I’m impressed with the consistency of their show. Even with a set list and choreography that has changed very little in the past year, the show never seems to be old or worn out. I’m not sure that with songs like “Boomin”, “Irene”, “No Ordinary Love”, “Lose My Soul”, and “Freak Show” the performance could ever be stagnant though, and the Diverse City Band brought the house down time and time again as they played through each song with tons of passion and showmanship. Because this is the Winter Wonder Slam, tobyMac’s crew included the familiar chorus “Oh Come Let Us Adore Him” with the majestic Nirva leading the crowd of 3000+ in singing along. TobyMac’s set was stellar, as usual, and his band is top notch. Toddie Funk is nothing short of beastly on the bass, and DJ Maj just embodies “cool.” What’s really refreshing about tobyMac’s set, however, is that no matter how much entertainment value there is tobyMac never forgets to mention the awesome redemptive power of Jesus, turning the fun into moments of worship without missing a beat.
The “group” encore that followed tobyMac’s final selection “Jesus
Freak” was a blast and for some reason I didn’t see it coming.
All touring bands and B.Reith joined the Diverse City Band onstage for a
rocking and crazy- frantic version of Winter Wonderland (or Winter Wonder
SLAM). Each front man sang a line from the song, and Soul Glo had a slight
lyric change, singing “In the Meadow we can build a snow man, and pretend
that he is TOBYMAC” There were a lot of stage antics, band members
dancing, jumping, and in general a big Christmas party onstage. The night
ended with a shower of confetti being blown out for the crowd to enjoy.
Winter Wonder Slam is currently
touring and will conclude its run in Dallas, TX on December 14. For ticket
links and more information, go to http://www.winterwonderslam.com/.
It’s a great way to celebrate the Christmas season with great music
and a great cause.
(Click on thumbnails to enlarge)
Family Force 5:
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All photos copyright Susan Lloyd. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.
Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com