Christian pop/rock band Bread of Stone cranks up the bass at 
St. Lawrence Center Friday night.
Christian pop/rock band Bread of Stone cranks up the bass at St. Lawrence Center Friday night.

August 15, 2016

With flashing lights, a steam machine and the bass cranked high, St. Lawrence Center’s gym was in rare form several days ago. In what local organizers are hoping will become an annual tradition, two bands offered a Christian concert in Carroll Friday night.

And since this year’s featured performers were rock groups Bread of Stone and 7eventh Time Down — the show was loud.

The bleachers at St. Lawrence Center’s gym were packed before the show started, but within seconds of the lights dimming and the music starting, the crowd had surged to the open gymnasium floor space in front of the stage.

“It’s so good to be back here in Iowa again,” said Ben Kristijanto, lead vocalist of the Sioux City-based band. “We travel from the East Coast to the West Coast, but nothing feels like this.”

Bread of Stone performed some of its better-known songs, including “Love That Lasts,” “Parachute” — as well as newer ones such as “Love Changed Everything” — accompanied by vibrating speakers, swirling lights and live video of the band’s performance projected from cameras affixed to the ends of guitars and microphones.

The band’s members kept up as well, leaping around the stage and never seeming to tire.

And the audience was right there with them, dancing, with hands raised and singing along to each song.

Falling back on their ’80s childhoods, the band members projected Super Mario Kart on the stage’s screen, superimposing themselves playing their instruments live in the game using a green screen, in keeping with their heavy use of technology during shows.

The band members, which include brothers Ben and Bill Kristijanto, who grew up in Indonesia, also told the audience about the band’s ministry, The Light Project, which helps provide food, transportation and more to those in need in Indonesia. More information about the ministry is available on the band’s website, breadofstone.squarespace.com.

Bread of Stone, which also provided production for the show through its company, BNY Production, introduced 7eventh Time Down as its members closed out their set, recalling having seen the band perform at a festival in Washington.

“These guys will melt your faces off, literally,” Ben Kristijanto said, “because they’re just hot. We’re excited to see them and learn something from them.”

Rock band 7eventh Time Down’s members made a dramatic entrance, with a countdown on the screen accompanied by a driving bass beat, before launching into their well-known song “The One I’m Running To.” Other popular songs included “Just Say Jesus” and “God Is on the Move.”

They later introduced a newer song, “Lean On,” penned after they’d finished a tour and felt as though they were too exhausted to write another word.

Lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist Mikey Howard of the Mount Vernon, Kentucky-based band described the group as a “bunch of random hicks from Kentucky.”

“A few years ago, we fell madly in love with Jesus,” said the tatted-up, bearded musician, wearing a ripped Nirvana T-shirt and bandana. “We’re gonna give you some good old-fashioned Kentucky revival.”

As with Bread of Stone, much of 7eventh Time Down’s performance was loud, driving and intense, but the band slowed things down a few times for acoustic versions of several songs that nevertheless still featured Howard’s raspy, rock-edged voice and, at one point, a slow, sultry electric guitar rendition of “Amazing Grace” by lead guitarist Eric Vanzant.

The band stepped back for a toned-down version of popular worship song “Holy Spirit” as the audience harmonized to fill in the gaps.

“All we want to do tonight is direct your eyes and hearts toward Jesus,” Howard said. “Our voices, these songs are just a simple response to Jesus and his cross and what he did for us.”

7eventh Time Down’s members also introduced a ministry with which its members are involved, Food for the Hungry, which allows participants to sponsor a child for $35 a month. The money not only helps feed kids but also teaches people in their communities to raise chickens and maintain water-filtration systems.

“It’s $35 a month, and it’ll change a kid’s life forever,” Howard said, adding that he didn’t come to ask the audience to pray about sponsoring a child — the Bible simply says to take care of others, not to think about it.

He asked audience members to commit to sponsoring a child that day if they have the extra money — and several did.

Howard noted that at almost every show, when he asks audience members to participate in the ministry, a child is the first to raise a hand and offer help.

“There’s something to be said about the heart of a child,” he said.

All ages attended the show, with young kids and older Carroll residents singing along with equal energy. Preteen girls crowded the stage, alternately trying for eye contact with the band members and pulling out their cellphones for selfies. One of the youngest attendees, barely a toddler, watched the show with a wide grin, clapping and a head encircled by giant ear protectors.

The concert was sponsored by Real 102.1, Carroll’s new Christian music station, as well as New Way, New Way Ford and McLaughlin International, Carroll United Methodist Church, Central Church and Pleasant Ridge Evangelical Free Church near Glidden. Organizers hope the event will continue to grow and that more will become involved each year.