Concerts a Key For Faithful Fan

Written by Terry DeBoer on . Posted in Local

Cooper John and VanderMayRob VanderMay (right) and John Cooper Rob VanderMay can tell you that ten times is not enough.

For the tenth time the Kentwood resident saw the Christian rock band Skillet when they headlined the Winter Jam tour last month at Van Andel Arena.

Now he'd like to see them for Number 11 - when the band performs in Muskegon April 28 along with For King & Country.

"Yeah, I'd say Skillet is my favorite artist," said VanderMay, 29, as he recalled the band's booming, pyrotechnic-flavored Jan. 7 set that filled Van Andel to the rafters. Featured were classic tunes such as "Whispers in the Dark" as well as their very latest, "Feel Invincible."

"They also did stuff from their albums 'Rise' and 'Awake,'" the Kentwood resident reported.


While perhaps not qualifying as a "superfan," the dedicated Christian music buff certainly is a Winter Jam stalwart. "My very first Christian concert was Winter Jam in 2004," recalled VanderMay, now 29.

"It was at Cornerstone University with Audio Adrenaline and Relient K," he correctly stated.

Every year since, the eager concert-goer has been at or near the front of the line to get the best seats at the ticketless, admission-at-the-door formatted Winter Jam which now has an annual stop at Van Andel.

Through the years he's seen headliners such as Newsboys, Third Day, David Crowder and TobyMac.

"Every year I get in line at 9 a.m. for the (evening) concert," said VanderMay of the tour which traditionally hits Grand Rapids on a Sunday.

"One year it came on a Thursday and I skipped school to wait in line."

This year his patience was specially rewarded. Before the arena doors opened for the show, out onto the cold sidewalk came Skillet band members to say hi to fans waiting in line. That's when VanderMay met lead singer John Cooper.

"He (Cooper) walked over to where I was standing and I got my picture taken with him," said a beaming VanderMay. "He's awesome - a very real Christian guy open to people and wanting to share Christ's love."

The dedicated VanderMay attended a DeltaPlex concert a few years ago when Skillet was an opening act for mainstream rock bands including Halestrom and Stone Sour. There was a mosh pit right up front. "Some people there didn't know Skillet was a Christian band and didn't know Christians could rock out like that," VanderMay added.

In 2013 Skillet opened for rockers Nickelback on a European tour.


On its April tour Skillet is paired with For King & Country, anchored by the brother duo Luke and Joel Smallbone. West Michigan was fortunate to nab the limited-run tour, brought to LC Walker Arena by the same folks who produce the annual Unity Christian Music Festival.

It's not an unfamiliar music group partnership. The first ever tour for the brothers' upstart band was headlined by...Skillet.
VanderMay is also a big fan of For King & Country. In fact, he has the ink to show it. On his right forearm is the tattoo inscription, "Let my life be the proof, the proof of your love." It's a line from the band's hit song "Proof of Your Love."

"They're my wife's favorite band," he noted. "And I like 'em, too." They consider the ballad "Priceless" as "their song."

Even though his musical tastes are varied – from rock to country to hip-hop to metal, VanderMay said his faith connection to Christian music runs strong. And lest you think he is a millennial stuck in the modern musical world, VanderMay is familiar with the sounds of "classic rock."

"The very first Christian band I ever heard of was Petra," he said of the pioneering Christian rock band with roots back to the early 1970s. "I've seen all the (vinyl) records and cassettes...... I even know how to work an 8-track player," he smiled.

Skillet with For King & Country
7pm Sat. April 28 (doors open 6pm)
LC Walker Arena, 955 4th St. Muskegon
Tickets: $20 and $35
VIP $60 with early entry, preferred seating and Q & A with artists.
Available: Star Ticket outlets, or 800-585-3737.
Video preview:

Author Information
Terry DeBoer
Writer: West Michigan Christian News August 2011 – Present (1 year 6 months) Monthly publication and web site with news, features, and information of interest to the West Michigan Christian community Feature writer: Muskegon Chronicle April 1996 – Present (16 years 10 months) Writer: Kalamazoo Gazette July 1991 – Present (21 years 7 months) beat includes convering contemporary Christian and Gospel music feature writer Grand Rapids Press May 1988 – Present (24 years 9 months)

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