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Saturday

April 26, 2014

"We Won't Be Shaken" Tour

with Hawk Nelson

BUILDING 429

Building 429

With the release of 2011’s Listen to the SoundBUILDING 429 solidified its place as one of Christian music’s best-­loved and most influential bands. The hit single “Where I Belong” became an anthem for today’s believers and was Billboard Magazine’s No. 1 Christian song of 2012.

The song set an impressive record as it became the first song to remain at No. 1 for 15 weeks, an unprecedented feat. Pushing forward with a renewed passion and sense of purpose, Building 429 now unleashes We Won’t Be Shaken.

“When asked what we were trying to achieve with this record, we thought back to a plaque on our manager’s desk, ‘What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?’

We felt like that was the perfect mantra of this record,” frontman Jason Roy states. With bold declarations and its driven inspiration, the band has never had a more effervescent message to offer to listeners than it has now. “We know who we are better than ever before,” drummer Michael Anderson says, “who we are as men, who we are as husbands, who we are as Christ followers and that just pours into the music.”

In intentional efforts to serve its fans, Building 429 offers a fresh approach, yet delivers the absolute substance listeners want with the new project. “We feel like we’ve made the most focused record of our career,” Roy says. “We knew what we were trying to accomplish.

We wanted to push the limits of what people expect us to do while maintaining the absolute laser focus on meeting our current fans where they are.”

Passionate vocals, skilled musicianship and insightful songwriting have become the cornerstones of the Building 429 sound and they are in abundance on We Won’t Be Shaken.

The title track is a battle cry for the church in these troubled times and the album is filled with songs that inspire believers to dream God-­sized dreams and walk the Christian walk to the fullest extent. “We are as committed as we’ve ever been to the body of Christ and to the church,” states Roy.

“And for us, we don’t think that means we have to be less cool or less fun or less energetic. In fact we feel like we can be everything we want to be and speak directly to the church while at the same time having music that speaks to people who are non-­‐believers.

As we headline shows this year, we want to make sure the gospel is clear and we want to love on people. We want our album to convey that.”

We Won’t Be Shaken is a bold statement of faith by Jason Roy and his band mates Jesse Garcia (guitar), Aaron Branch (bass) and Michael Anderson (drums). The title track reverberates with passion and conviction as it encourages believers to stand strong in their faith.

“Get Up” is a vibrant up tempo that encourages action and reminds believers to remember what they were made for. “Set a Fire” is a slow burning ballad that asks the Lord to rekindle that spark within. “Wrecking Ball (Press On)” stands out as a reflective mid-­‐tempo declaration to trust God, no matter the ups and downs of life.

“Bonfire” is an incendiary rock anthem anchored by Roy’s distinctive vocals and Anderson’s pounding drums.

Branch cites “Blameless” as his favorite song on the new album. “Everyone knows who they were before they were saved, but the Bible says we are now in Christ through God. In God’s eyes, we’re blameless,” Branch says. “His blood has washed us clean and we’re righteous through Him.

The lyric says ‘You have made me blameless, sin has been made nameless, it doesn’t matter who I was before.’ It’s a powerful lyric to me, and then the sound of the song is very epic and it just adds to the lyric. It makes you feel like: ‘I am blameless!’ I love that song.”

In recording We Won’t Be Shaken, Building 429 worked again with producers Jason Ingram and Rob Hawkins. “We’ve always enjoyed working with Jason Ingram and Rob Hawkins. They are not only great producers and writers, but impressive musicians,” states Garcia.

“They know about guitar sounds and tones. To be in a room with somebody who is producing, but also has that same mindset and to be able to have an open palette, the experience was just so great. I love working with them.”

Unlike some bands that record separately, Building 429’s members were all in the studio together and that camaraderie can be heard in the tracks. “It’s funny when people walk into the studio and we’re tracking,” adds Roy. “They are shocked that we’re all four tracking and that we’re all talking to each other.”

The members of Building 429 are united in their desire to be bold about sharing its faith and want to encourage others to do so without fear or hesitation. The group has learned from experience that when God calls you, he equips you and you can do great things for the kingdom.

“We’re confident in saying that we’re believers,” Roy continues. “We’re confident in saying that there is a better life as a believer.”

Building 429 hopes the songs on We Won’t Be Shaken remind people they are more than conquerors in Christ. “We don’t want to spend a lot of time talking about who we were before Christ because the old is gone and new has come,” says Roy.

‘We wanted to talk about how David is no longer shepherd boy. Now he’s King. We didn’t want to talk about Moses the stutterer. We wanted to talk about Moses the leader of the nation. We really felt like we wanted to make a record that said, ‘Stand up! You have been called. We are God’s children.

Who can stand against what God has begun?’ That’s really our perspective. If you listen to the record you find that there’s a little bit of bravado in it, but it’s bravado from a standpoint of we don’t have to always talk about how weak we are because His strength is made perfect in our weakness.

That’s what this record is about. This record says, ‘Hey, let’s go! Let’s do this. God is going to use us and we’re not going to fail.”

FAMILY FORCE 5

Family Force 5

Hailing from the depths of the durrty south, the mighty FAMILY FORCE 5 has spent the last eight years on a bombastic, arduous crusade, conquering clubs and arenas worldwide with an unrepentant swagger that has made the band the poster child for DIY business models in the music industry.  Boasting a gritty concoction of mammoth beats, mouth-watering melodies, and explosive guitars, the dance-derived, fashion-forward five-some from Atlanta has crafted an impressive resume built on sweat and elbow grease.

The group assembled in 2001 under the title The Phamily (largely influenced by the fact that there are three brothers in the band), and immediately created a contagious buzz around town, freely distributing burned copies of their homemade demos throughout Atlanta.  The five emerged from their rat-infested practice space as often as possible, jumping at any chance to ignite a club with an electrifying performance, and word about the band’s break-dancing, wall-climbing shows started to spread. It wasn’t long until attorneys for Prince issued a cease-and-desist order about the name. (The Family was the ad hoc outfit the Purple One put together to record “Nothing Compares 2 U.”) Undaunted, the quintet carried on under the banner of Family Force 5, tearing up crowds that grew numb to nü-metal’s Cookie Monster-sounding excess. It wasn’t long before the band signed with the Maverick label, issuing their debut album, Business Up Front, Party In The Back in 2006.  At their best, FF5’s dealings with the major-label machine were tenuous. Crowds culled from assorted music subcultures (rock, punk, metal, alt-rock, hip hop) were taken by the band’s show, but the label didn’t know what to do with the unique group. Inevitably, they split ways in 2007: the band members celebrated the occasion by going out on several weeks of that year’s Vans Warped Tour, rejuvenating both the crowds and themselves.

Coming off the high from the Warped dates, Family Force 5 decided to create its own label (Transparent Media Group), and release its next album, Dance Or Die, independently. Infectious in its enthusiasm, D.O.D. was a near-perfect amalgam of dense grooves (“Radiator”), synthesizer-driven funk (the title track), techno-pop nostalgia (“How In The World”) and inspired emo (“The First Time”) that seemingly erased the lines of demarcation between dirty rock clubs and cosmopolitan dancefloors. 

The band’s knowledge of its fanbase and close connection to the kids (who bought over 350,000 digital singles and over 150,000 copies of their debut album) created a strong brand that didn’t need a major label behind it to succeed. After a busy 2009—which included compiling Dance Or Die With A Vengeance (a remix album featuring 3OH!3, Relient K, and Cobra Starship), teaming up with Skelanimals for an exclusive EP release for Target, and unveiling the Family Force  5 Christmas Pageant album-the band joined forces with 3OH!3 and the Maine to co-headline an entirely sold-out AP Tour.

After enduring a incessantly grueling tour schedule (which featured a mainstage slot on the UK’s fabled Sonisphere Festival), and a near-death illness for bassist Joshua Olds (Fatty), FF5 proudly returned for its fourth stint on the Warped Tour as one of the premiere independent bands in the world, scanning more than 150,000 units on its own record label since creating Transparent Media Group.  The band has continued to drop jaws, landing opportunities previously unavailable to an indie artist: placing songs in major films (Battleship, Almost Alice, Warrior’s Way); winning countless awards by landslide votes (Yahoo’s Who’s Next, MTVU’s Freshman Class, AP Reader’s Choice Awards, etc.); and scoring significant press in nearly every major outlet. The band’s creativity flourished in 2012, releasing the highly-anticipated album III, its electrifying concomitant EP III.V, plus 5 well-received music videos, featuring countless fans as extras.  In addition, the relentless five stumbled into a brand new realm, producing Phenomenon, an inspired collective that produces electronic music and wildly celebrated dance parties in sweaty tents across the world.  Fresh off the heals of successful international tours (New Zealand, Australia, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, etc.), Family Force 5 jumped onto its second run on the Rock and Worship tour, using the off-days to film a cathartic, buzz-worthy video for the band’s latest single “Chainsaw,” which is the featured track on FF5’s new remix album Reanimated. The fivesome is currently working feverishly to complete its fourth full-length album, which is currently slated for release in early 2014. Anyone familiar to their mythology knows, when Family Force 5 activates its collective booty-movin’ powers, there’s not a single rock club, dance floor or house party it cannot vanquish. 

HAWK NELSON

Hawk Nelson

Some musicians who have played together for nearly a decade, released five albums and played countless shows on countless tours, could turn to album six and toss it together in their sleep. They are pros. They’ve been doing this a long time; autopilot would actually produce some pretty good music.

But what if those musicians who had written and played together for years didn’t switch to autopilot and, instead, became more intentional in their music than ever before? The result would be a set of songs that sound, lyrically and musically, like each note and word were precisely paired. The result would be HAWK NELSON’s sixth studio album Made, releasing April 2013.

In many ways, Made reflects the journey Hawk Nelson has been on sinceCrazy Love released in 2011. Since then, the band has found a new label home with Fair Trade Services, longtime guitarist for Hawk Nelson, Jonathan Steingard, has transitioned into the role of frontman after Jason Dunn departed to begin his solo career, and the band of four is now a trio of him, Daniel Biro (bass), and Justin Benner (drums). Many changes. Even more unknowns. But one thing is for certain: Something has clicked, and this album is the proof.

Biro, who founded the band ten years ago, has grown with Hawk Nelson this last decade and believes all of the change has resulted in an honest and God-breathed product. “This time around,” says Biro, “we’re going through all of this emotional change, physical change, and God breathed some new songs that channeled all those feelings and doubts and emotions into these lyrics.”

As much change as Hawk Nelson has undergone in the last year, new lead singer Jonathan Steingard explains the DNA of the band is still the same. "We're still that high energy band that a church or youth group would book if they want to have a fun youth night," says Steingard. We want to take what we've been and not leave it behind, but grow it a little bit and hopefully be a lot more intentional about what we're saying."

This intentionality shines through the two central songs on the album: “Words” and “Made.” Steingard wrote “Words” with Matt Hammitt (Sanctus Real) and Seth Mosley, the producer on the album. The song, and first single, is product of a conversation Steingard had with Hamitt and Mosley. “We were talking about how easy it is to forget how impacting we can be in the lives of the people around us just with our words,” says Steingard. As the lyrics explain, Words can build you up; words can break you down. / Start a fire in your heart or put it out.

“Words,” which features vocals by Bart Millard (MercyMe), is a response to “Made”—a building song, layered with fast-tempo strings, that speaks boldly to the listener during the chorus: You’re beautiful, wonderful, perfectly made.

“The idea behind that song,” says Steingard, “is that when something is made instead of just happening, everything about it is on purpose and intentional. If we didn’t just happen, if we were created by someone who loves us and cares about us and has a purpose for our lives, then when we look in the mirror, we should be satisfied with what we see.”

So “Made” tells us we are on purpose, and “Words” encourages us to live life purposefully.

The lyrical intentionality runs throughout the album but it does not, of course, replace that unique, I-just-can’t-sit-still-right-now, fun, contagious, signature sound of Hawk Nelson. Songs like “Elevator” and fast and loud “Anyone But You” will leave the listener with a strong takeaway message while they dance along and jump up and down, as Hawk Nelson fans do.

Hawk Nelson will also be intentional with the philanthropy aspect of their spring tour for Made. They have partnered with Food for the Hungry to support one, specific city that is in need. Many bands go on tour these days and raise sponsorships for kids through various non-profit organizations, but by focusing on one place, Hawk Nelson will bring sponsorship to a tangible level.

“It doesn’t seem as grandiose as ‘We need to get all these kids sponsored,’” says Justin Benner. Their goal is to raise enough sponsorships for one village to be self-sustaining by the end of the tour. “Then,” says Benner, “you could say ‘I contributed to that—that specific thing.’”

Fan involvement is Hawk Nelson’s specialty. Further proof of this is in how they raised funds for Made. It was a Kickstarter project—an online fundraising tool now often used for producing new records. Biro believes the Kickstarter success proves the power of the relationships this band has built with the industry and with fans over the years.

And despite the new look of Hawk Nelson, he says, “Real relationships span the test of time, and those relationships have stayed in tact and those people have showed their support.”

No doubt Hawk Nelson has loyal fans. They are known for a rigorous tour schedule, working on albums while on the road and playing in front of people as much as possible. Hawk Nelson does well reaching the younger demographic that can be so difficult to get through to, but now, as their music is maturing, they hope to broaden their reach. With more mature album themes like living purposefully and more challenging lyrics, they surely will.

With the success of Crazy Love, which was nominated for numerous GMA awards, you would think these three are feeling the industry pressure withMade. But the band members are confident in this new phase. “We just all believe in it,” says Benner.

Biro, agrees and sees the challenges as the exact preparation the band needed. “When you’re in those valleys, those are the times you grow,” he says. “I’m really proud of the guys for sticking around because it is a brand new thing. It’s a new identity, and I’m excited about it.”

Steingard has felt peaceful about the transition before the transition even officially happened. In spring 2012, he was in a hotel room in Australia on tour when he played for Biro what is now the upbeat, lead-in track on Madecalled “What I’m Looking for.” The chorus chants What I’m looking is for is more than a feeling / What I’m looking for is something bigger than me.

It’s that belief in something bigger that Steingard clings to. “I don’t feel pressure,” he says, “because from the get-go, this has felt like something God’s been sorting out for a while. It feels like there’s something going on that’s bigger than any of us.” With this type of focus on the bigger picture, anything is possible for the new Hawk Nelson.