If you didn't know that Thousand Foot Krutch was a Christian rock band, you might not know it by watching them perform. Lead singer Trevor McNevan roars and belts out high-powered, energetic rock songs. Guitars blare and drums thunder heavy rock beats. Outside of a brief comment by McNevan in the middle of their hour-long set Saturday that "all praise belongs to Jesus, and not the band," this concert could have passed for any heavy rock show I've seen in recent years.
Thousand Foot Krutch is perhaps the second-biggest Christian rock band on tour today. (Skillet, which impressed so many Rock Fest-goers in Cadott this summer, is significantly more known.) TFK headlined at North Central University on Saturday, which is located only about a mile from the Metrodome. As I expected, the crowd of about 1,000 fans was largely made up of people between the ages of 15 and 25. (As a 37-year-old rock fan, I now get confused with the parents who are dragged along as chaperones.)
TFK has had some mainstream crossover success. Their hit, "Fire It Up" off their fifth CD, "Welcome to the Masquerade," was featured in the "G.I. Joe" movie, and I heard it played pre-game at a Minnesota Wild game last year. (The lyrics of "it's cold in here, so fire it up!" are perfect for a hockey setting.) The group also has opened for bigger mainstream rock bands like Breaking Benjamin.
The band has been out nonstop for the past year on the "Welcome To The Masquerade" tour; it's actually the third time I've seen them perform in the past 14 months. The title track is a great show-opener and got the crowd rocking immediately. Other songs like "E For Extinction" and "Bring Me To Life" and "The Absolute" are great rock songs that actually have strong Christian themes, but they are subtle and below-the-surface; these songs could easily blend in on any modern rock radio station. Someone singing along to a slower tune like "What Do We Know?" might not even stop and consider the spiritual message of the song.
Some of their songs are clear and to the point with no subterfuge, however. "Already Home," - the final track on "Masquerade" -- has lyrics such as "I'm on my knees, because you are everything I need."
McNevan has a pleasant voice, and the band sounds a bit like fellow Canadian band Our Lady Peace. Their earlier CDs have a bit more of the nu-metal rap-rock sound, but "Masquerade is a far more complete rock album, and their best yet.
Opening for TFK was Tennessee-based Christian rockers Disciple; I saw this band open for Skillet last year in Milwaukee. Disciple just released their latest CD in September, "Horseshoes & Handgrenades," and their first single, "Dear X, You Don't Own Me," was a crowd-pleaser and is a sure-fired Christian hit. Lead singer Kevin Young could pass as a double for Red Hot Chili Peppers lead singer Anthony Kiedis, both in looks and musical style. Disciple is decidedly louder and more raucous than TFK. Their ballad-style "After the World" has a great Christian message, but they decided to skip that Saturday, as they focused on their heavier, louder setlist.
While Ivoryline was given just 20 minutes to open the event, the Texas band gave a crowd-pleasing set. Their pop-punk musical style is reminiscent of Red Jumpsuit Apparatus, who performed at Rock Fest this summer. Their latest disc, "Vessels" was released in July.
Obviously, I'm a fan of Christian rock music. There is a sense of optimism and hope in all the music, and while it's loud and very much a rock show, it is a clean, family-friendly event.