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If SoulFest Was A Contest
[ july 20-august 1, 2004 | by becca tuttle ]

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Becca Tuttle here, finally home and recovering from Soulfest in Lincoln, New Hampshire. Although happy to be back in the land of indoor plumbing, I can't help but feel a little sad that the summer festival season is drawing to a close. Hopefully you read along with me earlier this summer when I teamed up with interviewer Kim Flanders to give live reporting a try at Creation East. As fun as that was, I decided to be a bit less traditional with my Soulfest report in honor of summer's end. Listed below are a selection of the concerts I attended, graded as if I were a judge and presented in ascending order. No, there's no real winner, and the random points I assigned have absolutely no value or significance. So enjoy and feel free to agree or disagree with my observations. In fact, drop by the message boards when you're done and tell us how what you think.

Starting off the line-up is...

Paul Wright

+50 pts for selling decent tee-shirts. Some of the more established artists can't claim the same, unfortunately.
+300 for a great show with plenty of audience enthusiasm, despite hot, stuffy conditions and a meager audience.
+150 sympathy points for incompetent sound technicians (45 minutes of sound check for a two-man band? Come on!).
+200 for making the sound check more bearable with some freestyle rap. (A nice change from the "1-2, 1-2, check-check!")
+200 for insisting that everyone "get their flip-flops off the ground"—even though the jumping shook the lighting and caused poor (tall) Paul to repeatedly hit the ceiling.

-100 for picking one of his worst songs for his encore, and then NOT EVEN REMEMBERING THE WORDS! (Tsk tsk, what a way to blow a great set)
-850 for blowing off my attempts to get a quick interview. In so doing, he blew all chances of winning. (Me, bitter? Why would you think that?)

=0 pts.

Grits

+100 for representing hip-hop at Soulfest.
+200 for their ability to talk a-really-really-fast.

-100 when I couldn't understand 'em because they talked a-really-really-fast
=200 pts.

Rebecca St. James

+300 for being able (once again) to pull off an interesting outfit. (A blotchy yellow dress over blue jeans? She's like the female TobyMac of the Christian music fashion world.)
-100 for her overly synthesized vocals. Rebecca, if you're reading, we dig your natural sound much more.
=300 pts.

Steven Curtis Chapman

+200 for playing "Speechless." Duh, he had to, but I love it!
+300 for just adopting his third child from China.

-200 for leaving his wife alone to care for this new sixth child, all for the sake of boring my pants off at Soulfest. True that Michael W. Smith may not have SCC's voice, but, if memory serves, he's much better at putting on an engaging show.
=300 pts.

Kevin Max

+450 for his unique voice.
-100 for his spastic dance moves (a mix of moonwalk and the chicken dance). Stick to singing man, you're no Toby Mac.
+150 sympathy points. He played an afternoon slot on the first day so there wasn't much of a crowd. The most enthusiasm he received was with some old dc Talk material... poor guy.
=500 pts.

Jeremy Camp

+700 for sounding just like his CD—what an impressive performance.
-200 for sounding just like his CD—a predictable performance.
+100 bonus for his intense blue eyes and for changing his devotion since the Adoration tour. Recycled, memorized devos get real-ly boring the second and third time around (cough cough, Audio A, cough).
=600 pts.

Sanctus Real

+250 to Matt Hammit for singing an a cappella chorus of "Closer" for his sound check.
+200 sympathy points for a short time slot on a small stage—the time even took the band by surprise when management cut them off earlier than they had anticipated.

-50 for using precious set time to sing their "Beautiful Day" U2 cover (C'mon guys, you've got so much good original material! That's what I came to hear!).
+200 for an enthusiastic autograph signing afterwards that flooded the merch tent.
=600 pts.

Jars of Clay

+800 because they're just good.
=800 pts.

Audio Adrenaline

+400 for Mark Stuart's effort to relate to the audience. He came out sporting a "LOON-atic" tee-shirt in tribute to the festival's last year at Loon Mountain, NH.
+500 for Mark Stuart's commendable perseverance. Having seen them perform the same set four times, I quickly noticed that Mark seemed a little under the weather (he accidentally sang the same verse twice in two separate songs, and even disappeared behind the fog mid-song at one point, looking dangerously pale and unstable). Nevertheless, the show had to go on, and he performed with his signature level of enthusiasm. I was so awed by his dedication to his fans that I decided, for once, to not subtract points for his voice.

=900 pts.

Newsboys

+600 for their ability to get a thunderstorm-soaked crowd revved up.
-100 for a long-winded devo (15 minutes of cliché?!)
-100 for Peter Furler's habit of grimacing and singing simultaneously (Nice set 'a teeth ya got there, Peter.) Somewhere down the line he must've been told to smile during his concerts. It's good advice, but only in moderation.

+500 for cutting their last song short to squeeze in crowd pleaser "Breakfast in Hell" before management kicked 'em off the stage for the sound curfew.
=900 pts.


AND THE WINNER....


Third Day

+800 for an amazing set.
+300 for returning to their rock roots (oh thank you, thank you, thank you!)
+300 to Mac Powell's humorous honesty, on all topics from the smelly state of his shirt to his recovery-from-recent-illness light-headedness (to which the audience responded by chucking various food items on stage. Which Mac ate. Mark took advantage too, suggesting, as he munched on a bag of kettle corn, that they make the free food a tradition.)
+100 for the gentle, cleansing rain the enriched the spiritual encore. The points rightfully belong to God, but seeing as he's already the obvious victor, I'm sure he won't mind me awarding them to 3D in his place ;-)

=1500 pts!
- Becca Tuttle
August 2004
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