This was my first Parachute as a twenty-something year old and not a teenager. And yes you do notice the age difference.
Having said that it was probably the most enjoyable Parachute that I have been to.
It wasn’t the biggest or best Parachute as far as the band line up goes.
However it was the Parachute that I have got the most into. The one that I have had the most fun at. And the one that I have been myself the most at.From arriving on Friday not knowing where my mates were tenting, through to chilling with newly made friends. From being crushed in moshpits to having full on moments with God at Kutless and The Ember Days.
Will I go again next year? Well I didn’t buy my ticket in advance despite the great price ($99, instead of the $150+). I will wait to see who is playing and see what else I am doing at the time.
But this past weekend has been what I needed. I needed to find myself again and I did. I needed to be myself again and I did. I needed to rest in God and I did.
This past weekend hasn’t made me a better person. But it has reignited my fire for God. I feel physically tired but spritiuality I have just been woken up.
I awoke at 6.40am on Monday morning and snoozed until 8am.
Like the previous days I went to the morning meeting but only stayed for the worship. I had planned to listen to the speaker but the sun was intensely hot, I was very tired, and wanted to hang with my mates before they packed up and headed off to other parts of the country.
At the morning service they asked how many people there had been up all night. Apparently the Village had remained packed until 2am and was still going strong at 5am. The best I have done at Parachute is around 3 or 4 in the morning. This year I was a bit more of an oldie and went to bed at 1am each night.
While I hung out I packed up my stuff and hauled gear back to my car over a number of trips over a period of about three hours. I had to laugh at my car when I saw it. Sunday afternoon had been very windy and because it has been so hot over the past few weeks the ground was very dry. So my car had become covered in dust. And not a little bit dirty I mean coated absolutely coated in dust, it was no longer black but more like brownish grey.
Once I had loaded up my car I went back to the Mainstage to see Late 80s Mercedes play the last act of the festival. Like Friday they went off, probably even more so on the hot Monday afternoon. Being the last band on allowed them to go longer than their advertised 30 minutes and in the end they managed to get all the people from backstage dancing on the stage and everyone still around having a great little boogie to Elemeno P, Britney Spears, Michael Jackson, Evermore, and Bon Jovi covers, which reminded me of how The Lads had closed out Parachute back in 2003.
After Late 80s left the stage the MCs came out for the last time and gave away all their left over CDs and T-Shirts. I managed to score a Casting Crowns live DVD after the case separated in mid-air and I caught part of it and other people handled me the rest of the broken case.
The trip back to Auckland was good, traffic wasn’t that bad.
On the way back I decided to take my time and drive through Hamilton. They have built some new roads to handle the highway traffic with these epic two lane, five road round-a-bouts every so often, which I am sure will confuse everyone as they are not well signed posted and confusing. I almost ended up on the Raglan Road instead of State Highway one after getting into the wrong lane.
Just north of Te Rapa this awesome cloud formed in the sky (see below), I am still trying to find out what it was, but I believe it may be a Horizontal Arc, pretty much a reflection of the sun in very high cloud often seen in advance of a rain storm (it showed the next day).
Once I hit the Auckland Motorway the traffic became quite heavy and slow going, probably costing me around half an hour of extra time, but overall my trip back to Auckland was still faster than my trip down, taking around two hours ten minutes.
When I got home the cleaning began, until my washing machine decided to die on the third load, I think it got over hot or something, had to take a whole lot of wet clothes out of it and let them drip dry. Also I discovered I had a sunburnt hand…
And for another year Parachute was over, but this is not the last blog, the final one will a summary of thoughts on the weekend.
After Kutless finished up I raced off to the Mainstage to see the second half of The Ember Days set. At this point I bumped into some friends from my church, just as they asked people to pray for the person next to them. Having just come across from the worship that ended the Kutless gig I was completely amped and just launched into prayer for my mates, something I rarely and often struggle to do in other circumstances.
Magnify followed The Ember Days and went off! They finished off their set with Brad Dring from Rapture Ruckus joining them on stage to perform Blown Away and with a few minutes remaining Ric Knott let Rapture lose to do some freestyle rapping/worship, it was unique and awesome. It was also cool to have Ric Knott tell the crowd to go and buy The Ember Days CD because “That was just awesome”.
Following this I decided to sort out dinner. However, as I walked away from the Mainstage I was stopped as three 14 year old kids took to the stage to perform a song. “The Israelites” had played earlier in the day on the Debut stage and were so good they got invited to perform on the Mainstage between acts. The kids may have been only 14 but they were something special, The Israelites took to the stage with no anxiety, no fear and just ripped it up, watch out for these guys in the future.
David Crowder Band took to the stage at 9.20pm and I was in my usual spot about five rows from the front right in the middle. As expected they were just awesome and they even remembered to bring their modified Guitar Hero guitar and played it on stage during a song.
Parachute should definitely bring David Crowder Band back for another year. They are one of those worship bands that everyone connects with and some special happens when they play. Words just cannot describe the experience.
After David Crowder I waited anxiously in the moshpit for Casting Crowns, not exactly knowing what to expect. The only song of theirs that I knew was Lifesong, and that is what they opened up their set with.
Luckily for me Sunday night is the worship night at Parachute so the lyrics are placed on the video screens. Most of Casting Crowns songs I had vaguely heard before, but what surprised me was the number of people who knew their songs off by heart. In a way it just shows you what going to an alternative church that mostly uses their own songs does for you. Te he.
Casting Crowns were a lot like Third Day and personally after David Crowder Band I would have preferred someone like Chris Tomlin. Having said that by the end of their set Casting Crowns had won me over with an awesome cover of Hillsong’s My Redeemer lives (which was slightly funny because the one song I knew, no one else around me knew, and the song isn’t that old), and a wicked drum solo.
And after that my night was over. I had listened to music for almost eight hours straight, running between stages as quickly as I could stopping only to hydrate and eat so I could keep going some more. But it was worth it, probably the best day I have ever had at a Parachute Festival.
Kutless played their second gig for the weekend in the Palladium at 5.50pm on Sunday. Like Family Force Five on Friday night they played a better gig on the smaller stage. For this set Kutless played mostly older songs from their first three albums.
Kutless’s performance would equal one of the best that I have ever seen at Parachute. No amount of melodramatic words can describe how awesome it was. God really showed up at the gig and the final song, Better Is One Day just encapsulated the feeling of the entire hour’s performance.
At 1.20pm I headed off to the Deluxe Stage to see Shooting Stars play. And so did everyone else at Parachute. We arrived about five minutes before they were to take the stage and the crowds were already overflowing, we squeezed in the back while many people were left outside in the boiling hot sun.
After Shooting Stars I went to the Massive stage to see Rapture Ruckus perform for the third time during the weekend. This time Rapture performed a number of his older songs, and a brilliant version of Thank You which is written to his mum, who happened to be at the concert and got a loud cheer when Rapture announced that too. At Rapture Ruckus I bumped into two friends from Uni who had come down for the day.
After Rapture Ruckus I headed off with my mates to the Village where I brought a Tuna Sub from Subway for lunch. It was great! After chomping it down I went back to the Deluxe to see Trigger Theory followed by Arms Reach perform.
Arms Reach were the winners of the Wildcard Competition and had played on the Mainstage on Friday night. They are a great up and coming band, their music is a lot of fun and reminds me of Switchfoot in their early days.
Juliagrace followed Arms Reach on the Deluxe stage. The show was a good relaxed chillout and knowing most of the band members made it just that bit more cool.
The night was not as cold as the previous which meant that I slept a little easier, although I did still wear a hoodie, and this time I put it on properly. One thing that was annoying though was a lot of trucks heading down the road throughout the night. I think they were moving band equipment from the Mainstage but it was noisy and I was trying to sleep! In the end I woke at 7am and got up at 8.
Like Saturday morning I got up had breakfast and took off to the morning worship. Then it was shower time take two. Today they had realised the shower imbalance and had changed one of the sets of female showers to male. Which meant no queues. Sweet!
I spent the rest of the morning chilling at my tent as the following photos will testify.
At 4pm I went back to my tent to quickly sort out some food, one of the most important things about surviving parachute is remembering to eat and drink. I saw two people faint in the mosh pits on Saturday night through getting too hot. While I was back at my tent I got a great opportunity to share a bit of my testimony with some other young people who were hanging around, even got into a bit of talking about science and how God can be unseen and in other dimensions, wickedly cool stuff.
At 4.30pm I headed off to the Palladium to see Magnify play. They were good playing a mix of old and new material, it was a bit strange not see a mosh pit for them though, I was probably one of the few people jumping to them.
Rapture Ruckus was the next band on my to see list. And for the second time this weekend he went off. I had to laugh when two girls in front of me left halfway through his set complaining that they had seen him perform last night and it was the same music (well duh! That is why you go and see band multiple times). I deliberately stayed out of the moshpit so I could save my energy for Kutless later on in the night.
And on that note can I just say that One Square Meal bars are awesome. I was scared of taking them because I thought they may upset my stomach but instead they did the opposite. The bar even explains on the outside of the wrapper how it contains probiotics to help your stomach out.
After Rapture Ruckus I went back to my tent again to sort out some rice for dinner and then rocked off to the mainstage for the night at 8.20pm. Before I could even make it to the mainstage I bumped into a friend from high school who started debating Theology with me and how his Baptist Church Youth Group didn’t like Family Force Five (who happened to be the band performing next on the mainstage) because of something insignificant that they had said at the previously nights performance (probably something about dancing and rocking for God or something). My response was simple and blunt “look if you don’t like the band you don’t have to see the band” and with that my mate left, haha, sorry but I want to see the band not have a theology argument about the band.
Family Force Five performed a good show on the Mainstage but it was nowhere near as brilliant as the night before. They had certainly toned it down a little bit in both costume and performance. Like Rapture Ruckus I stayed a little bit back in moshpit throughout their set, and I’m glad that I did because the Circle Pits were many and massive.
Once Family Force Five finished I quickly moved my way through the moshpit towards the front for Kutless. In the end I worked my way up to around the 5th row.
Kutless played a really good set mixing both old and new songs and did well working with a crowd where few people seemed to know their songs. The moshpit for Kutless was intense. The push forward at the start of the set was very painful as circle pits formed behind me. By the end of the set I had moved to the left by about 10 meters just through jumping.
After Kutless had played it was time for the local Kiwi hero Dave Dobbyn to play out of the night. Dave played one of the longest sets I have seen at Parachute over 1 hour 20 minutes all up playing right up to 11.58pm when all music has to be shut off at midnight.
Dave Dobbyn connected well with the crowd playing a mix of old and new items. Th’ Dudes hit Be Mine Tonight went down really well and then Dave amped up the crowd with the final four songs: Language, Loyal, Welcome Home, before closing out the night with Slice Of Heaven, where he left the stage as 20,000+ people screamed ba ba ba ba da da, ba ba ba ba da da.
After this I headed back to my tent chatted with mates until 1am and then went to bed.
My first band for the day was Edwin Derricutt on the Deluxe Stage at 1.10pm, Edwin is a great artist and it was a very entertaining set including audience participation and special guest artists helping out on songs. It was a great way to chill out and really begin the day.
At 2.20 was the great Kiwiana Party aka The Great Indoor Cricket Battle: The Americans (Family Force Five and Kutless) vs The Punters (randomly picked campers). It was a bad but funny idea to send The Americans into bat first. No one explained to them that cricket is not baseball. Firstly you hold the bat differently, and secondly you don’t drop it after hitting the ball. The cricket match was a great way to get out of the sun though.
About three quarters through the cricket I left to see Season Pass play. They were awesome! For a band that has not played together for more than a year and only had a few practices. Also partly because I know almost everyone in the band so it was a more personal performance than most other bands.
The one thing about boiling hot, cloudless days that lead into cloudless nights is that they result in very cold overnight temperatures as all the heat in the ground gets sucked up into the air and vanishes off into space.
Trying to sleep overnight in my tent was a challenging experience. I had deliberately left my winter sleeping bag in my car because it is way too hot, but my summer sleeping bag has the opposite issue. In the end I slept in my sleeping bag liner, summer sleeping bag, and in the middle of the night I put on a hoodie, well tried to, I got one arm in, and then fell asleep, I woke up in the morning very entangled in clothes.
I woke up on the dot of sunrise. 6am, but managed to snooze until 8am when the morning sound check was done on the Mainstage and the heat inside the tent got too much to bear.
I had a quick breakfast and then went off to the Mainstage for worship at the morning meeting with other mates from church. After the worship I headed back to take a shower.
My cunning plan was to avoid the shower queues first thing in the morning and grab one when most people were listening to the morning message at the Mainstage. My idea fell apart when I discovered that I was one of many who had this plan and ended up in a queue for over half an hour for a shower.
To make matters worse the Hallensteins slogan of ‘It’s good to be a guy’ has the opposite meaning at Parachute. In terms of showers it means there are 3 times as many female showers as there are male showers. So while the girls had no queue the men were having a great time burning in the sun while waiting for their six minutes of watery solace.
After that epic adventure I spent the rest of the morning chilling with mates at my tent.
Okay one annoying thing about Friday at Parachute is that you have to arrive early to score a good camping spot, but for the rest of the day there is not that much to do, and it is always blindly hot with little shade. This year the first band took the stage at 5pm which is even worse than the 4pm that it was a few years ago. It would be nice to have some chill out music starting at 1pm or something like that, and they could so do it, the rest of the weekend is so packed that you miss other bands due to clashes.
Anyway, the first band that I saw perform was Late 80s Mercedes on the Mainstage at 8.10pm. Late 80s are a great Ska/Jazz covers band and are always a lot of fun. For the last few years they have played the Mainstage after packing out the Palladium beyond capacity for a few years prior to that. It was a little disappointing that there was no front of house sound for Late 80s because about two minutes into their set they blew out a speaker or something. Luckily there was enough noise coming off the Foldbacks on the stage and people shouting lyrics that you could still rock out to them.
Mumsdollar followed Late 80s and knowing the Moshpits would be nuts I stayed a little back in the crowd. The circle pits that formed were worse then I was expecting, and it wasn’t that fun holding people up who were being pushed back by them. Also Mumsdollar were not as good as other times I have seen them, it was a good performance, but only an average one, nothing to write home about.
Following Mumsdollar was Rapture Ruckus, as the moshpit emptied out between the two bands I snuck forward to around 5 rows from the front. Rapture Ruckus as always was great. With fireworks both opening and ending his show. I got completely crushed in the moshpit from the crush of people behind me (but that was nothing compared to Kutless the next night).
When Rapture Ruckus finished I quickly moved to the Palladium where Family Force Five were playing their first gig for the weekend. All I can say is there is something not quite right about a bunch of ripped males, wearing black mesh singlets and bright white pants playing songs that sound like they could belong in the 80s. Overall they were a great fun bad, but not exactly my taste.
At midnight I headed back to my tent and made a hot chocolate before heading to bed a little before 1am