We were there and what a fantastic night it was! Really it was more of a day long experience for us. Edie has been following the Rock and Worship blog faithfully since it went online in February. After each show she would tell about something she read or saw and get me to look at it as well. Time and time again we would see where a venue had sold out or was packed to the brim: Portland, Ontario, Phoenix, Fresno... Literally, thousands upon thousands of people have been turning out to see the Roadshow. This is a good thing, but Edie did want to plan accordingly.
You see, we do not usually take the planning lightly. Not just planning in general, but planning to be around thousands of people. Take our vacation planning for example. When visiting WDW, we have a full agenda planned to detail. We know at what times we are going to be in certain places, where we are eating (with reservations and confirmation numbers in hand), and in which order we will visit all of the attractions at any given park. We even have the information printed in a handy, bound booklets - one for us, one for Modie. That would bother some people, but not us. We like a plan. When planning to go the a Mavericks game, we know when to leave, where we will eat before the game, and which road to take to the AAC to avoid multiple mergers (not I-35!). We just like to have a plan.
For the Rock and Worship Roadshow, we knew we would have to have an equally organized plan. First, was the challenge. Edie already mentioned the shirt contest. That was step one in preparing for the night. All four of us had on our red shirts that I had made earlier in the week. Slick paint, glitter, sparkle skulls and all. Although we knew the probability of being chosen out of the masses of people was not high, we gave it a shot anyway. After all, how many people really make homemade shirts anyways?
We arrived at the AAC around 12:30. This meant taking time off of work for us and time out of school for EK. When Edie picked him up from school, she thought he would be upset because he was leaving recess early. No way! He was pumped and ready to go to the concert. The surprise is that we were not the first to arrive at the arena. Around the arena, on every side were people camping out on blankets and lawn chairs, ready to claim their spot at the front of the line. We joined in, hanging out in Victory Plaza and catching the last half of WFAA's noon newscast. The wait began.
We came prepared with a sackful of snacks. We almost did not bring as many because we thought it wouldn't be necessary. Then we remembered that we would have to keep EK busy for over five hours. We needed plenty of snacks. It was pleasant outside as the temperature was comfortable and a breeze was blowing. We quickly spotted other early birds wearing red shirts. Competition was afoot! We managed to keep ourselves out of the sun for the majority of the afternoon because we knew the concert would not be any fun with a sunburn. Some of our snacks did not fare to well in the heat. Modie finished off all of the melting snacks for us.
It really did not get "crowded" until a couple of hours before the doors would open. Sometime before they opened we saw MercyMe members on the balcony doing some kind of interview or photoshoot. EK had fun yelling at them, trying to get them to turn around and look at us. I enjoyed watching the other people run out of line to see what was going on above them. He kept yelling, "Bart!" but could not get him to turn around. It was probably annoying to everyone else, but EK was staying occupied. At one point he asked, "how much longer?" "An hour and twenty minutes." "Any minute!" Needless to say, he was very excited. He really did very well considering the amount of time we were there.
Before the doors opened we had already discussed which way to turn once we were inside. We knew our entrance should let us in behind the stage, so we had to plan accordingly. Modie said to go ahead, she would catch up with us later if we were separated. Yep, that was our plan. As it turned out, we managed to stay together as we made it in, down the aisle, and eventually onto the floor. That is correct floor seats! Edie was excited to be so close. I don't know if Modie was as excited since it could be so loud. It did not take long for the room to fill with people. They asked for everyone to move over if there were empty seats. They said they may have to take down the backdrop so people could sit in the seats behind the stage. They did.
First up was Addison Road. Of all the groups, I think Edie was most excited to see this one because they have great songs, we have not seen them before, and because Edie has enjoyed reading lead singer Jenny's blog. We did not know if they would be there because Jenny and husband Ryan are very close to having a baby. But not before last night's show. They were great! I don't know how she could move around and dance as much as she did so close to having a child. Have I mentioned that it was a packed house? We knew from talking to Justin Mil10 that people were still waiting to get into the AAC as Addison Road finished their set.
Next, Tenth Avenue North was singing. Another great job. Mike is the lead singer. He was supposed to see our red shirts and let us in early and meet some of the groups backstage. That didn't happen. We never saw him were we were waiting to enter the AAC. With the great crowd it is no wonder. That is ok. There is more to the red shirts later in the story.
Next we saw Jeremy Camp. Again, another great performance. Great message. That is the best part of the night. Sure we were hearing great songs. But we were also spending time worshiping. Praising God. Why would you not want to do that with thousands of friends and strangers?
Finally MercyMe took the stage. This was not our first time to see them perform live. This is a group we are very familiar with and have known for a long time. We have a solo tape - yes, a cassette tape - of Bart's that he made long ago while living in Florida. We still pull it out from time to time. His band even performed years ago while Edie and I were in youth camp. We have seen the current MercyMe group twice in the hometown's Municipal Auditorium. Those have all been great experiences. We see them and their families around town. But this was big. This was a concert in Dallas. Were they great? Most definitely!
On the way through the building to the parking lot, we happened upon the Addison Road and Tenth Avenue North autograph tables. We stopped to have EK's drumsticks signed. Jenny was not at Addison Road's table, but the guys were there. While at the Tenth Avenue North table, I tried to take a picture as they were signing since we could not stop for poses. I think I blinded Jeff as I caught him by surprise with the flash. Sorry! Near the end of the table was Mike. When he saw our shirts he said he was really impressed. We had to tell him that we were upset because we didn't get selected as the winners for the night. He said he was blown away by the crazy size of the crowd that turned out. But had he seen ours, he would of picked us. Now he may tell that to all of the people that are not selected, but it was fun hearing it from him. Thanks, Mike. Guys from both groups told EK they liked his hair. Now with drumsticks in hand, he says he wants to be a rock star. Thanks, guys!
But at the end of the night, all in all, it was better than just seeing some famous people perform in front of a large crowd. It was about taking time for corporate worship with about 18,000 people. It was about sitting there with my family and seeing my son sing along with lyrics that he knows and believes. It was about taking time out of a busy week to spend the day with my family doing something that we can't do everyday.
This morning we saw Shannon at the baseball field and told her how great the night was. She could not believe we got there so early. "Was it worth it?" she asked. Yes, it was worth it. Definitely worth it!