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Winter Jam 2011 January 25, 2011

Posted by markgeil in Music, Reviews.
Tags: , , , ,

I just posted a “proper” review of Winter Jam 2011 at The Sound Opinion, a fairly new site for which I’m now writing. Now, for you, a more personal take, a few leftovers, and even some exclusive pics!

Winter Jam is a massive tour – ten artists this year – and I’m always impressed they can get all this stuff and all these people around the country night after night. And though I mention this in the article, I cannot overstate how shocked I was by the crowds. I’ve seen shows with general admission at Philips before, but never a show for which the whole arena, every seat, was basically first come, first served. People showed up, and they showed up early! Every entrance had a thick, dense line of people queued up. The crowds were orderly, jovial even, which was refreshing. I had press credentials and there was even a long line for me to get in, combined as it was with the people who had paid a premium to get in early and with artists’ families and invitees.  

Once we got in, we found a spot in the corner of the floor with easy access to the photo pit in front of the stage. The first ten or so rows were mostly full already, but the rest of the arena remained up for grabs when the doors were opened. This was almost nostalgic for me. I was raised in the day before concerts had “tiered” ticket prices. The standard show had a single ticket price for all seats. The same $15 could get you in a front row seat or in the rafters behind the stage. Diehard fans were rewarded with good seats because of their dedication in lining up hours, sometimes days, outside the ticket booth. I was sometimes among them. Today, diehard fans are rewarded with good seats by forking over loads of cash, something they often cannot do. So, the chance to get up close, down on the floor, for ten bucks, is fantastic. Consequently I’m not a huge fan of Winter Jam’s new VIP membership (paying more for early access) and I wouldn’t be sad if it went away next year.  

A few other observations that did not make the main article:

Plaid could not be more in among the rock star set. Flannel plaid is a bonus. Half the David Crowder Band wore plaid. I dare say the plaid shirt has dethroned the unnecessary scarf as top rock star fashion trend. You heard it here first. I think.

First bonus pic, of plaid, but first some explanation. This was my first concert with a formal photo pass, so it was a big learning experience for me. I learned a new language, with phrases like “bicycle rack”, “the pit”, and “the standard first three songs rule”. I was mainly there for writing, but I had brought a camera, so I figured, why not? And so I bravely entered the hallowed space between the front row and the stage, and pulled out this:


Wow. Pitiful. I looked around and saw the real photojournalists carrying things like this:


Guess what? I’m buying a real camera! I felt like a total dork, but I’m never one to let feeling like a dork dissuade me from something fun, so I snapped away! And behold, some halfway decent pictures. The best are in the real review. 98% were horrible. To wit:

 Bad Picture

But every now and then, the lighting was right and the artist would stand still for once, and I could at least make out the plaid. Here’s a triple-plaid shot of DCB. I’ll leave it to you to figure out which shirt belongs to which band member.


Our seats were right next to the backstage entrance, and the view was great except for a giant crane that obscured a bit of the stage. It was the crane upon which Jody Davis from the Newsboys would fly out over the crowd at the end of the night. I thought it would be fun to drive Jody around, so I took a picture of the controls. I will study up and maybe next time they’ll let me take him for a spin. I’ll wear plaid, to look more credible.


The other amusing thing about our spot was the number of rock stars who walked and even sat right by us while my daughter Hannah was completely oblivious. I’d say, “You know that was KJ-52 standing right beside you, right?” and she’d say, “No! Why didn’t you tell me!”, and I’d say, “I’m telling you now.” How she missed KJ-52 and his mismatched fly kicks is beyond me. Jon Micah Sumrall from Kutless made a very early appearance in our midst, and Hannah’s friend, a huge Kutless fan, knew enough to point him out to her. To be fair, he did not have on his hat:


so Hannah is forgiven for mistaking him for an average fan. My favorite, hands down, was when a couple of guys from Newsong wandered around our seats. after they left, the guy in the row behind me, incredulous, said these immortal words to his buddy:

“I can’t believe I was just standing next to the guy who sings Christmas Shoes!



1. Page not found « A Window in the World - March 9, 2011

[…] Winter Jam 2011 […]

2. My New Hobby « A Window in the World - March 9, 2011

[…] weeks ago I mentioned that I felt a little silly trying to do concert photography with a little point-and-shoot camera, […]

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