To Be Surprised: A Day At FishFest 2015
By Sarah Komisky
In its 15th year, Fishfest has never failed to be on the move in introducing locals to new music, ministries, food, and vendors. Over the years, I have taken in new people, sights, and sounds that are all relevant to what God is doing at the moment. While all have been unique summer ventures, none has been quite as surprising as FishFest 2015 at the Irvine Meadows Amphitheatre.
On Saturday, June 13th, I embraced the “June gloom” that faded into balmy Southern California weather. Myself and fellow festival attendees were able to roam the grounds under sunny skies. Opting to see what was yet unseen, I embarked on a new endeavor to take in all the little details I missed in previous years in order to gain the full FishFest experience.
Walking around with my friends and family, we made our way through the twenty-two booths that also included merchandise vendors filled must see discounted items and rare goodies. Additionally, the VIP area where attendees could listen to live interviews with Big Wave Dave and John Nolan was a behind the scenes treat.
Among many of the treasures found, one of the most pleasant were artists yet to be discovered. For me, this was Tim Timmons; with a laid back coffee house vibe and sometimes lighthearted rhythm that mirrors Andy Grammer or Eric Hutchinson. Timmons acoustic guitar ditties exude a deep gratitude. Given only five years to live after being diagnosed with terminal cancer, songs like “Cast My Cares” reflect the intimacy that can only be birthed in hard times.
Following Diverse City drummer B. Haley’s message on unity, I had the pleasure of listening to an all-time favorite – lead singer of Switchfoot, Jon Foreman. Gracing the festival stage for the first time, Foreman performed a spontaneous set of fan favorites picked from an excited crowd. Featuring songs like “Terminal” and “You Don’t Know How Beautiful You Are”, from his new project The Wonderlands, Foreman fans will be happy to hear an Indie/folk selection similar to his other solo work. Foreman made fans feel at home with oldies like “Twenty-Four,” “Only Hope,” and “Your Love Is Strong.” With passion and gifted musicality Foreman’s passion was seen in every song accompanied by his cellist Keith and drummer. Experiencing what feels like a stripped down jam session, Foreman used harmonica on the folkie tune, “Caroline” and then brilliantly used it as a lap steel in another. Covering Shawn Colvin (or better known Gnarls Barkley) song “Crazy”, fans were delighted to dance along with Foreman. Organic and original, Foreman’s set was a true prized experience in an intimate setting but most memorable for the unexpected sides he displayed in his music with new upbeat rhythms.
Relocating to the Main Stage, the Newsboys played mainstream anthems like “God’s Not Dead” and “We Believe,” and stunned the crowd when front man Michael Tait reunited with DC Talk bandmate Toby Mac for the second time in history for the song “Jesus Freak.” Crystal Lewis, mom of FishFest 2015 newcomer Izzi Ray also made a guest appearance premiering a soulful song from her upcoming album that compared to powerhouse vocalists Mariah Carey or Christina Aguilera.
The night ended with a bang with the ever versatile Toby Mac. Returning to the festival, Mac showcased songs from “Eye on It” but also performed a repertoire of songs that collided the past with the present. Similar to LMFAO or Neo, Mac lit the night sky with a laser light show and electronic beats that had everyone up on their feet. Premiering a song from his new album debuting in August and reuniting with fellow festival artist, Mandisa, “Lose My Soul” was yet another surprise. For fans of his early days, songs like “Irene” and “Somebody’s Watching Me” mixed by DJ Maj were fun throwbacks as well as a brass filled “Funky Jesus Music.” Joined by the talented Diverse City, Mac’s energetic set was also filled with a quiet acoustic set of songs, my personal favorite being “Hold On.”
But the greatest surprise came from the reminder that all if this was a reflection of the Author who created it. Relishing in sweet melodies and gifted artistry, was only a reflection of the ultimately Creator Christ, the source of beauty we enjoy.
Other artists and speakers featured at the festival included: Matt Redman, Hillsong Young & Free, Rend Collective, Jana Alayra, and Tony Wolf.