It was the Friday evening of Memorial Day Weekend at Marshall Road Church of God. The lights were low, and the crowd eagerly awaited the bands to take the stage. Scarlet Raven was first. They made their way into the shadows, and when they each found their spots on the stage, they crouched low to the ground, the sense of anticipation building. As the music began, low and soft, the band members emerged from the darkness, the drummer rousing the audience to their feet and to the front of the room. A moment later, the guitars kicked in with a big, heavy sound, sending a shock wave of energy throughout the crowd.
About halfway through their set, lead singer Brandon took a few moments to speak, telling the story of the band’s name. Several years ago, he fell away from God. Through a series of bad decisions, he caused a lot of hurt to the people around him and ruined some very important relationships. It was almost like he had become a bad omen to those around him, much like a raven is considered a bad omen. Brandon even attempted suicide, swallowing a staggering number of pills. He was found and rushed to the hospital, where his stomach was pumped free of the poison he had ingested. Brandon recalls waking up at one point, wishing he had died. He believed that no one needed him and he was such a disappointment that the world would be better off without him. It was at that moment he realized there was someone laying across his legs, sobbing for him. As he reached out to touch this person, their hand moved, and Brandon could see a scar from where the nails had pierced the flesh. It was a powerful moment, and a major turning point in Brandon’s life. Even though he had been a raven, this bad omen to so many around him, he was now washed in the scarlet blood of Christ and made into a new creation.
Mayfly was the second band in the line-up. Their dynamic music certainly got the crowd enlivened. Jared, the lead singer, engaged the crowd, sharing the mic with several people and encouraging audience participation. “Pariah,” the highlight of their set, started with a funky bass riff that set the tone for the exciting song. Adam was quite remarkable on the drums, especially on “Eternal Respiration.” Four Star Revival was next, their heavy guitar sound almost reminiscent of the hair bands of the 80s. Several of their songs featured the incredibly talented Ed Girard on bass, his fingers flying up and down the fretboard.
Since this was a concert to benefit veterans and honor the memory of those who lost their lives in battle, concert promoter Jason Rockhill took a few moments during the set change to speak of his nephew who had taken his own life due to difficulty in transitioning back to civilian life. It was Jason’s aim to bring awareness to the lack of support that returning soldiers sometimes face.
After a few more brief words and a prayer, it was finally time for headliners, The Protest, to grace the stage with their presence. TJ and Sarge got things off to an electrifying start by trading thrilling guitar riffs at the beginning of “Control.” Shred was at the top of his vocal game as the band started into “We Stalk the Streets at Night.” Animal was tearing up the drums, adding even more excitement to an already animated room. It was apparent to anyone watching that these guys were in their element and truly loving every moment, and it was impossible for all that positive energy not to radiate out into the crowd. Several crowd members could be seen dancing, moshing, and head banging, the smiles on their faces evidence of their tremendous enjoyment. Throughout the set, newest member Jesse laid down a solid foundation on the bass, the gel holding everything together.
As is their tradition, Shred took a moment between songs to tell everyone of the immense love that Jesus has for them. Overall, their show was an excellent mix of old favorites and new songs, including their most recent single “Rebel Static” and ending with crowd pleaser “Chambers.” If you ever have the chance to see The Protest in concert, be sure to take advantage of it. It is impossible to leave one of their shows without feeling loved and encouraged and energized.