Published on november 17th, 2020 | by Steve Perkins
On Saturday, the 29th of October, in 2016, I arrived at the venue and did not sit down for nine and a half hours. When I finally collapsed into my car to drive home, I was lightheaded from mild dehydration, my ears were ringing, and my head was pounding. It had been the best concert experience of my life, and you are about to share it through words, pictures, and of course, videos!
Stryper was on the 30th Anniversary To Hell With The Devil tour, playing the album from start to finish and wearing the costumes they had worn back in 1986, but what made an already once-in-a-lifetime opportunity even more special was that for the Indianapolis stop of their tour, they would be headlining Rocktoberfest with Petra, Whitecross, and multiple opening bands. It was general admission, so I got to the Old National Centre early and enjoyed the fall weather as fans began queueing up.
The first time I met Michael Sweet was when he came out to greet fans before a Stryper concert in Illinois, and he did it again that afternoon. He's just that kind of guy. He loves hanging out with fans, and getting to meet him again was an honor and so much fun. It added to the electricity already building among the crowd outside the theatre, electricity that would explode when the doors were flung open.
I felt like a teen back in the '80s. A good friend was going to meet me, but at that moment I was alone, so I rushed past the merch tables as soon as they took my ticket and headed for the concert hall. I was determined to be up front, and I was. I staked out my position just to the right of center stage and never left it.
My only regret is that I did not take more pictures and video of the opening acts. Back then I had to save memory and battery on my phone. There was Cool Hip Priest (with guys from Rok Hollywood), Chaotic Resemblance, Todd Moyer Band, and K & T Frank (a.k.a. Holy Fire).
|Cool Hip Priest, with Father Chris on guitar and DoniRox on vocals|
|Oz Fox of Stryper introducing L.A. Ellis of Chaotic Resemblance|
|L.A. doing his thing on the six string!|
Chaotic Resemblance, however, just blew me away. Travis McConnell and L.A. Ellis are as on fire for Jesus as their music is just plain on fire. With sounds reminiscent of Skid Row, they made it clear that night that Christian metal was not just a thing of the past. I have been fortunate since then to interview them twice, first by myself and then on The Wildman & Steve Show.
After the opening acts had battered our senses musically, the full sonic assault began when Petra took the stage. These guys are one of the foundational bands of Christian hard rock and metal.
|Bob Hartman laying down the Petra sound|
|Greg Bailey on bass and Bob on guitar|
|John Schlitt's power vocals|
|Bob Hartman drawing magic from his Les Paul|
|John leading the crowd in rock for the Rock, Jesus Christ|
If you are a fan of classic Christian rock, then there is just nothing like seeing Petra live. Here are some highlights from their set.
|L to R: Benny Ramos (bass), Rex Carroll (guitar), Scott Wenzel (vocals), Michael Feighan (drums)|
|Benny getting it done on the bass|
|Scott, a true showman and front man|
|Michael giving it his all on percussion|
|The autograph, with an acknowledgment of Psalm 81|
|Dr. Oliver and I, headbanging for Jesus|
By this point in the night, I was getting concerned. I could hardly stand from exhaustion and the beginnings of dehydration...hey, I'm a middle aged Latin teacher...and was worried I might not have enough voice to scream along with the final act of the night, Stryper. Oh, well. I dug into some deep reserve of metal and threw myself into the moment we had all been waiting for, To Hell With The Devil performed in its entirety by the original members of Stryper.
|L to R: Tim Gaines (bass), Michael Sweet (vocals, guitar), Robert Sweet (drums), Oz Fox (guitar, vocals)|