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One Fest
By Trae Cadenhead 

The Phantom Tollbooth sent a new writer, Trae Cadenhead, to cover the first annual One Festival in Memphis, Tennessee this past June. Set in a 5,000 acre public park just minutes away from a seminal music town, One Festival presented the best of underground/alternative Christian music to a small, but appreciative audience. (Click here for an interview with the executive director, Henry Huang.- Coming Soon))

This was Trae’s first festival, but he did his homework, programmed his Palm Pilot, and managed to hit all the high points. This is his journal.

One Festival Prelude
Today is Tuesday, June 12th. It is 11:39 AM right now as I sit and think about the coming four days that I will spend at One Festival, an event that I have been anticipating for almost a year .

This will be the first music festival I’ve attended. I've been to numerous concerts, but have never been able to venture out to a festival in another state. Finally a festival is coming to my hometown, about ten minutes from my house. You just can't beat that!

I have put much preparation into this event. It was last September that I heard about One Festival announced during a Skillet/Bleach concert held at Shelby Farms, the location of One Festival. I perused the World Wide Web and came across the One Festival web site where I found the artist lineup. Names were added weekly. I just about flipped when I saw the name POD on there. This was going to be so awesome. As the weeks and months progressed and the time drew closer, other favorites of mine were added such as Waterdeep, Project 86, and Violet Burning.

About a month and a half ago I started keeping tabs of the festival by making a custom schedule of the bands and stages where they would be playing. Then I went back and created my own schedule of the bands I would see. For my graduation I was given the gift of a Palm Pilot. What a wonderful thing to have! I went into the calendar on it two weeks ago and put my schedule in there, setting alarms to go off before key concerts so I will be sure not to miss them. Last night I got the map of One Festival and loaded it onto my Palm Pilot so that I would be sure to not get lost. As I sit on the eve of One Festival, I think I've got my schedule set.

So what bands am I looking forward to seeing the most? Wow, that's a hard question. There are many of them. A large number of these bands are ones that I haven't had the chance to see before but am strongly hooked on their music. These include Starflyer 59, PAX217, Ace Troubleshooter, Waterdeep, Stavesacre, Violet Burning, Project 86, POD, Cush, and Disciple. Then there are the old favorites that I have seen before and have been dying to see again. Bands like Bleach, Five Iron Frenzy, Relient K, and Caedmon's Call.

Last night I drove with some friends through Shelby Farms just to see what things were looking like. We saw tents and stages and huge fields. It was exciting to think what will be starting in just a matter of hours. As I am writing this, people are already pulling into Shelby Farms and setting up camp, getting ready for the events that will begin tomorrow. I look forward to what could be the most incredible thing to ever go down in Memphis, Tennessee.

One Festival, Day One Wednesday, June 13, 2001
Finally the day arrived for the beginning of One Festival. I had a couple guys from out of town come over and use my house as a launch pad for their adventures (some of us just aren't the outdoors type).

At 12:30 PM we arrived on the grounds of Shelby Farms, turned in our tickets and got our wristbands. We got a very good parking spot (about a minute or two from main stage), and our first plan of business was to understand the lay of the land. We got a feel for things pretty quickly, and then we went to check out the merchandise tables. There was a lot of cool stuff to be found there and I'm sure there will only be more as the festival goes on. I made a promise to myself to return later in the evening.

At 2:00 we showed up for Bleach on the Hilltop One stage. I'd already seen Bleach twice before so it wasn't the hugest thrill to me; however, they were still a pretty cool rock band. They played four new songs, one of which is now featured on Their best song was the harder, yet more worship-oriented tune "Sun Stands Still."

The rare treat of a Further Seems Forever show on the Hilltop Two HM Magazine stage was next. They are a band that isn't touring much, so I consider myself very blessed to have seen them. They have recently changed vocalists but their new vocalist, Jason Gleason, sounded quite a bit like the original, Chris Carabba. It was safe to say that FSF rocked. The songs were full of energy and passion. My favorites were the ones that started slow and built up. Songs like "Just Until Sundown," "Snowbirds and Townies," and the set-closer "New Years Project."

Starflyer 59 was the next band on the agenda. I wasn't exactly sure what to expect from them. Cool guitar-driven mellow rock is a sound that few can pull off well, but thankfully Starflyer did. I quickly realized that Jason Martin is not only a good songwriter; he's also a great guitarist. My favorite song was the classic "Voyager." Surprisingly, we didn't hear any new songs. Also surprisingly, the set lasted only 30 minutes even though it was scheduled to last for 50 minutes. That was kind of sad.

Then it was back to Hilltop Two to see PAX217. I hadn't seen them before, but I dug their debut CD quite a bit and the CD is only a teaser. PAX live is ten times better. They know how to get a crowd going and they certainly capitalized on that knowledge. My friend JD had never heard them before and he left as a fan of theirs. They played one new song as well as several favorites from their debut such as "Sandbox Praise," "Prizm," "Check 217," "No Place Like Home," and "AM." PAX217 was the highlight of my afternoon.

At that point I was ready for some dinner, some delicious sandwiches that I had made earlier in the day while listening to the Latin sounds of Salvador from the main stage. I picked up some Phantom Tollbooth fliers and went into the merchandise tent to hand them out and talk with people. There I met Doug Van Pelt, editor of HM Magazine. I also caught up with the guys from Green Olive Tree. They quickly recognized the name Phantom Tollbooth as being the online magazine that bashed their new CD. I told them not to take it too personally. Even though their CD may not be the greatest, they still seemed like pretty nice guys

I laid down in a nice grassy area close to the main stage and listened as Salvador played the last song from their set. Jennifer Knapp came on next. It was my third time to see her, so the thrill wasn't really there any more. However, she did put on a pretty good set. I just lay there on a blanket and looked up at the clouds. It was pretty cool. I was surprised that Knapp didn't include her signature song "Undo Me" in the set list. I put away the blanket because I knew I wouldn’t be sitting down during the next band.

As Five Iron Frenzy hit the main stage I was quickly proven correct. They were not music designed for sitting down. They are still in as great a form as ever, hilarious and fun. It was cool to hear old favorites of mine like "Beautiful America" and "Blue Comb" again. The new tune "You Probably Shouldn't Move Here" was really funny too. The band did get serious near the end. "World Without You" was introduced as a praise song. The staple "Every New Day" closed out the band's set. However, Reese Roper (lead singer) and a couple of the other guys stayed on and sang worship songs with the crowd. The band's drummer also got up and shared his experience over the past few weeks with the death of his father. It was a good word to hear.

My original plan was to see Few Left Standing at 11 PM. However, I got to the stage and heard screaming and growling during the sound check. It wasn't exactly what I was in the mood for so I retreated to the Ugly Mug Café for a unique worship set. Marc Byrd (of Common Children) was playing acoustic guitar and singing some of the vocals. Marc Byrd's wife Christine Glass (officially Christine Byrd) sang many of the vocals. Steve Hindalong (of The Choir) did percussion and Derri Daugherty (also of The Choir) was on guitar and some vocals as well. It was a nice, relaxing time of worship and a good way to close out a great day. I left before they finished, however, because I needed to go home and get some sleep. Day two was awaiting me.

One Festival, Day Two Thursday, June 14, 2001
The second day of One Festival had many good things in store. I arrived early and caught a seminar at the Everyone's Festival tent with Squint Entertainment exec Dave Palmer before the music started.

Everyone’s Festival, an annual art and music fest in Kansas City sponsored by the band Waterdeep, joined forces with One Festival this year. They relocated their event to Memphis and added a lot to the quality of the event.

The first music of the day came from Sarah Meeker (formerly of Chasing Furies). She did a 30-minute acoustic set at the Everyone's Festival stage. That girl can write some great songs and has an incredible voice. Johnny McIntosh, formerly of Luna Halo and Meeker's husband, helped out on guitar.

Matthew Perryman Jones played next. He has been opening up for Don and Lori Chaffer of Waterdeep for the past few months, another guy with an acoustic guitar. If you're into that kind of thing you might want to check him out sometime.

I got to talk for a couple minutes with Mike Knott in the merchandise tent. He was very interesting. He informed me that he was no longer in the band Cush (which certainly took me by surprise), but was playing an acoustic set that night. He didn't know the time and place so I helped him find it.

I headed off for the Hilltop Two stage to see Ace Troubleshooter at 2:00. The trouble was, they got stuck in traffic and didn't arrive for two more hours. They were rescheduled for 6:00 and in their place The Beep, a Memphis band featuring Ken Steorts, formerly of Skillet, played and put on a pretty good show.

Next on the same stage was emo/indie rock favorite TwoThirtyEight. They put on an awesome, passionate show with all of the skill and togetherness that a concert-goer could possibly ask for.

Relient K had the next slot on Hilltop Two. They had probably the largest crowd of any band I'd seen on that stage. The crowd really got into the band as they played many old favorites including "Softer To Me" and several new songs that will be on their album coming out this August.

Hilltop Two had a great lineup on day two of the festival. Next on the list was Brandtson. I really got into their latest EP so I was looking forward to seeing this band. They suffered slightly from a bad sound mix and the vocals were grating on my nerves, but it wasn't too bad of a show.

I had a decision to make at this point: Ace Troubleshooter or Waterdeep on the main stage? I chose Waterdeep and since they started thirty minutes later I had time to walk to my van and restock on food. I found a nice spot in front of the stage, got some food in me, and prepared to see one of my favorite bands for the first time. Waterdeep did not disappoint. About half of the songs were from their new album You Are So Good To Me. We also got some nice funky blues rock songs such as "Scared" and "Everybody's Guilty" and indulged in the fan favorite "Sweet River Roll." I enjoyed seeing them. Thankfully it's not the only time I'll be seeing them. They play Friday and Saturday as well at the Everyone's Festival stage.

Caedmon's Call took over the stage following Waterdeep and did what they do best: Play honest, heartfelt music. Unfortunately, Danielle Young wasn't there to supply female vocals. Just Cliff Young and Derek Webb supplied the throats. Derek Webb soloed on "Somewhere North” and the band closed with the old Rich Mullins favorite "Hope To Carry On."

Next I ventured over to the acoustic stage for an intimate set of music with singer/songwriter/Christian alternative music pioneer/crazy guy Mike Knott. Brad and Noah Reimer of Ticklepenny Corner helped out as well. I was in awe as Mr. Knott did his thing on the acoustic guitar. He played favorites such as "This Is The Healing" and "Kitty" as well as the new song "Chameleon." Before he finished, Knott announced that he would be playing some electric songs on Hilltop One at 11:00. I was already going to see Stavesacre then, but I promised myself I'd try to catch a few Mike Knott tunes if Stavesacre finished early.

Stavesacre was incredible. They were so heavy, yet so melodic. The band played a mix of older songs such as "Shiv" and "Threshold;” "You Know How It Is," "Keep Waiting," "Gold And Silver" from their latest LP Speakeasy; and songs from their new split EP with Denison Marrs. The highlight was a heavy version of "Rivers Underneath."

Afterward I had time to catch one song from Mike Knott's electric set. Very cool stuff. Then I went home to get some sleep and prepare for a big day three.

One Festival, Day Three Friday, June 15, 2001
Day three was to be the best day of the festival. The first show I saw was Violet Burning. I got into their music a few months ago when I heard that they would be coming to One Festival. The Violet Burning knows how to put on a good rock show. (Click here for the full review.)

After the Violet Burning finished, 100 Portraits was finishing up their show at the Everyone's Festival tent. The few songs that I did see were really good. They are a band that has a lot of good things to say.

My daily trip to the merchandise tent followed. There I saw some cool stuff such as new CD’s from Common Children and Buck Enterprises. Most importantly, at the Violet Burning table I got to talk with Mike Pritzl. I bought an awesome Violet Burning T-shirt the whole band signed. It's a shirt to be worn with pride.

As I left, Waterdeep was just getting ready to start up their improv jam set with various friends. They played a wide range of songs including the classics "May The Circle Be Unbroken," "Nobody Knows The Troubles I've Seen,” and "All Along The Watchtower" by Bob Dylan. Two Waterdeep originals; “Lonely Sometimes" and "I Will Not Forget You" also made the set. It was a fun and interesting hour in my life.

I took off for the main stage where LA Symphony provided some hip-hop for the crowds. I'm not really into that genre of music, but I enjoyed this band that can steal some of the crowd away from trash-talking hip-hoppers.

Living Sacrifice took the main stage next. I had never seen them live before and although I'm not really into the whole screaming/growling bit, these guys play some awesome metal music. Lead guitarist Rocky Graves was sounding very good.

I was looking forward to Project 86. They are a band that puts out some seriously awesome music and they did a good job getting the crowd going. There were many songs from Drawing Black Lines played as well as a couple new unrecorded songs. The song I got into the most was "Open Hand." Proj. was quite a rush.

After a break that seemed to last much longer than scheduled we finally got to hear the band that we had all been waiting for: P.O.D. It was a show that I will never forget. (Click here for full review.) There's nothing like seeing 5,000 people going crazy over an incredible band.

A late night concert with all-star band Cush at Hilltop One finished the night. Mike Knott isn’t providing vocals any more, but Cush still makes some very good music and put on quite an impressive show. It was cool to note that Mike Pritzl of the Violet Burning was shaking various instruments and providing backup vocals. My only complaint with the Cush show is that the band members weren't introduced.

So day three has ended. There is one final day left. That's sad to think about, yet at the same time there are so many good memories that regrets are few. I only regret that the festival doesn't last longer.

One Festival, Day Four Saturday, June 16, 2001
Sadly, the final day of the festival arrived. I had had so much fun I really didn't want it all to end, but all good things must and there are still a few good bands to check out.

At 2:00, MG! The Visionary was supposed to play at the Hilltop Two stage, but he wasn't able to make it so some guys from Jackson, TN called Eclipse played instead. Eclipse plays acoustic rap with a fair amount of singing. The music is totally organic and the guys are very talented. They played some original songs as well as a cover of "In the Light."

At Everyone's Festival stage I saw The Normals. The Normals are a very good modern rock band. Their songs are intelligent and well written and they are very skilled musicians. The guitar prowess of Mark Lockett was particularly impressive.

After a thirty minute break, Waterdeep and friends returned for another exciting jam set. The highlight was "When the Saints Go Marching In" with fourteen people on stage and five guitarists. The entire set was like that--full of interesting instruments, various singers, and cool guitar solos.

Feeling brave, I took a trip back to Hilltop Two to catch some music from Gospel Gangstaz. I am admittedly not a fan of rap/hip-hop, but I was curious what it would be like. The Gangstaz had some good things to say and seemed to be pretty good rappers. I just kind of got tired of the lines "throw your hands in the air" and "scream."

As soon as the Gospel Gangstaz finished I took off for the acoustic stage for another set of music with Eclipse. Once again they were very good.

One of my most awaited concerts of the day came next. Waterdeep played a long show where they pulled out old favorites like "Razor Light" and "18 Bullet Holes" as well as some new worship stuff. It was great to get to see this band in a smaller setting do what they do best.

The last show of the festival proved to be the best of the entire festival; Disciple. (Click here for a full review.) I quickly learned that Disciple knew how to make quality metal music. Yet even better than that, they were excited about God and He was the reason that they had come to play. Without a doubt, Disciple is a righteous metal band.

One Festival was an incredible four days. I hope that the turnout was good enough that they will be able to have the festival again next year. In the meantime, I've been introduced to so many great bands, that I've got a lot of new music I need to go to listen to!


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