Big Church Day Out is one of the biggest and best Christian events in the UK, attracting more than 15,000 people. Louder Than The Music founders Dave and Jono went along to see some of the best bands in Christian music. Jono reports from Saturday's events and Dave from Sunday.
Big Church Day Out
28th/29th May 2011, Wiston - West Sussex, UK
Jono: I had always become a little bit jealous of Dave, who every year would go to the festival and wouldn't stop talking about how amazing it was, so this year it was time to check out Big Church Day Out for myself. We got together a small group of friends from my church in Dinas Powys, just outside Cardiff, and went on our way to Wiston House. The group was made up of 14 adults, 1 child, 3 under fives and one baby. So 191 miles in a mini bus was going to be an interesting event in itself.
My wife and I decided with a hour to start before the mainstage opened we would head out and explore the site, what we found was a strip of different food places to eat, with chips, burgers, coffee bars, spit roasts, jacket potato stalls and more. Then we found the most important and yet scary part of any festivals, the toilets. You do hear horror stories of festivals and toilets, but to be fair there was always enough toilets around so you didn't have to wait long and all of them were clean, well done!
By now it was time for me to head back to the mainstage where David Crowder Band were going to play their last ever UK gigs, as they are disbanding in November. It was really great to hear the band play some of their well known songs, including Oh Happiness, How He Loves and Everything Glorious. They also threw in a cover of Tim Hughes' Light of The World and the Delirious? anthem Obsession, an interesting choice but one that went down well.
Dave: This was the third year in a row for my family and I at BCDO. We love the way the event is geared to the whole family, and with our two young kids (4 & 6) in tow, we had no worries that they would enjoy the day as much as my wife and I would. Upon arrival we decided to give the kids what they wanted first, a visit to the Children's play area, with bouncy castles, soft play and a fun gym to keep them amused, not to mention the fair ground rides.
We then headed over to the beautiful gardens behind the impressive Wiston House where the more genteel Tea Tent stage is located. With Wiston House as a back drop, and table and chairs laid out on the lawn, this stage proves popular with the older generation, whilst still attracting families with its laid back atmosphere. As we arrived, Graham Kendrick was working through his acoustic set, performing songs from his new album Banquet and even throwing in the old classic Servant King.
Jono: My in-laws decided the Tea Tent was the place for them to set up camp for the day and as my Father in law said, his highlight was the Kings Chamber Orchestra. "They were top stuff", as he put it. I headed over to the smaller UCB stage in time to catch the last part of BeBe Vox's set, who was sounding amazing. With some backing dances to add to a bit of sparkle to the set, she did a very good show. It was now a quick dash back to the main-stage to catch the one band I had been waiting to see for ages, Newsboys with Michael Tait.
Dave: The biggest problem for us at BCDO was the scheduling clashes! My wife is a huge fan of Lou Fellingham, so while she stayed at the Tea Tent to watch Lou's set, I headed to the main arena for the incredible Newsboys. Ever since hearing their newest album Born Again I have been desperate to see this band live, so I was delighted when I heard they were on the lineup at Big Church Day Out this year. And they certainly didn't disappoint - performing all the biggest songs from the new album including When The Boys Light Up and Born Again, and fitting in their cover of Mighty to Save. Looking smart in their matching dark suits, ties and red armbands, they moved into what lead singer Michael Tait described as "Newsboys Old School", including the hit song He Reigns. There was even a quick cover of Play That Funky Music White Boy, but saving the best till last as Newsboys began their version of the DC Talk classic anthem Jesus Freak, Michael Tait was joined on stage by his former DC Talk band member Toby Mac for one of their best moments of the whole day. The two old friends danced, jumped and sang together like the good old days.
Jono: Hearing the majority of their album live was a privilege, and for me they were the best band of the day. The highlight had to be hearing Jesus Freak live, the song that set me onto the road of enjoying Christian music. Another highlights of the day for me was seeing Chip K and his band (which included Galactus Jack) do a set on the UCB stage. Chip gave an energetic performance, bouncing around the stage, with some great sounds coming from these guys.
Jono: I made a decision to head over to see Dweeb play. As some of the younger adults in our group were at the front of the barrier, I decided to join them. With an energetic Tim and the band playing their well known songs, the crowd really got into. As it was Tim's birthday he decided to meet the crowd and jumped and danced around as the band kept playing on stage. Hearing songs like Playing In The Snow, new single My New Hero and crowd favorite It's Ok for maybe the last time, (I hope not) was a great way to close the UCB stage.
Dave: TobyMac's set on mainstage was another energy packed session. With performances of songs from his Tonight album, including the stunning title track, plus Made To Love and even a chorus of the Bluetree/Chris Tomlin song God Of This City. Toby ended his show with a medley of disco hits, including We Are Family.
Jono: With the kids in our group starting to get tired, they had all had an amazing day at the kidz zone, we decided we would watch Israel Houghton all together and then make the four hour drive home. A great way to end the day for us, seeing Israel bring his electric pop funk to the stage, leading the crowd in worship with some of the songs from his last two albums, and as the sun was setting we decided to return to the bus with fond memories in our minds of an amazing day.
Dave: The video screen visuals were used to great effect by Israel, with performances of songs like Love God Love People, Friend Of God and the Hillsong classic Mighty To Save. Ending the night on mainstage was the UK's ever popular worship leader Matt Redman, who arrived on stage as darkness was really setting in. The stage lighting was now more evident against the dark night sky as Matt opened with his classic Blessed By Your Name before leading a worship time that featured his best songs old and new, including You Never Let Go.
Jono: What an amazing festival, with so much going on, it's a must for anybody, no matter what your style of musical worship is. I got to see the best of the American bands and the best of the British bands, all together adding to an amazing day for the Church. I can't wait for next year, what will it bring? Who will play? Answers you will find out first on LTTM! If you haven't experienced The Big Church Day Out, then can I encourage you to do that next year. Great day, great bands, great venue, great festival, Amazing God.