Relient K rocks Electric Factory, releases new CD

Christine Guerrini

This past Saturday, Relient K played to a sold-out crowd in Philadelphia’s Electric Factory. The concert was the second in its current nationwide tour.

Opening for the Christian rock band, Sherwood and Mae met with loud cheers and excited fans.

For Sherwood, a California band, energy was the key to its performance. The repertoire balanced guitar riffs and strong vocals, allowing for each member to showcase his instrument. Percussionist Mike Leibovich, who looks like Andy Dick, stole some of the crowd’s interest from lead singer Nate Henry with his eclectic dancing. These moves, although detracting attention from the music, embodied the overall fun feel of Sherwood.

The members of Mae, a band formed in Virginia, took stage second; this, however, did not hinder them from delivering a powerful performance. Lead singer Dave Elkins’ charismatic presence and unique voice blended to compliment the lyrics he sang. Crowd members seemed more familiar with Mae’s set; they sang the words at the top of their lungs, excitedly clicking pictures at opportune moments.

Each band has announced plans for new CDs. Sherwood and FYE combined to pre-sell “A Different Light,” available this past Tuesday. Mae played songs from its album due out in early summer 2007.

Of course, Sherwood and Mae served only as a warm-up for the headlining band, Relient K. Before lead singer Matt Thiessen and band members Matthew Hoopes, John Warne, Jonathan Schneck and David Douglas even stepped foot on stage, the crowd came alive. Everyone wanted to stand front row, resulting in a large pushing match between those in the front and those in the back of the venue. The competition only ended once the first chord sent fans into shouts and applause.

The band chose a strong set, including crowd favorites “High of 75,” “The One I’m Waiting For,” “Life After Death and Taxes,” “Chap Stick, Chapped Lips and Things Like Chemistry” and “Sadie Hawkins Dance.” Playing just as confidently, Relient K added a sampling of songs from its latest CD, released March 3.

After over seven years of recording and releasing material, Relient K still masters the art of combining great vocals and complimenting instrumentals with meaningful lyrics. Some songs are somber, others completely quirky. Perhaps the best thing about Relient K’s lyrics is their duality. As a Christian band, many of its songs, such as “Forgiven,” obviously reference religion; yet, at the same time, each person can identify with the idea of forgiveness within his or her daily life.

Tracks like “Must Have Done Something Right,” on the other hand, are sure to keep feet tapping. Thiessen injects so much energy in his voice, whether singing words or a simple “bah” as a background vocal, it’s hard to ignore the song’s appeal.

With a successful performance at the Electric Factory behind them, Relient K traveled to Boston and Canada to round out the week. Tomorrow, they will return to the United States for a show in Michigan.

Relient K’s “Five Score & Seven Years Ago” is in stores now, available through joint collaboration with Gotee Records/Capitol.