Casting Crowns Delivers an Inspirational Night of Music in West Palm Beach
Grammy Award-winning contemporary Christian rockers Casting Crowns brought their A Night Under the Stars Tour to the South Florida Fairgrounds on Tuesday night and delivered an inspirational night of music to a spirited crowd in West Palm Beach.
Fans of the longtime contemporary Christian septet had been anxiously awaiting the announcement of the postponed socially-distanced drive-in concert date. In fact, it was supposed to take place a month earlier but had to be postponed because lead singer Mark Hall had contracted the COVID-19 virus. Now fully recovered and full of vigor and verve, Hall and the other members of Casting Crowns delivered a moving set of the band’s very best tunes. With the nation moving past the Coronavirus, the concert remained a socially-distanced drive-in show despite the State of Florida no longer requiring masks and social distancing in outdoor venues. It was a night where families sat mask-free together on tailgates, lawn chairs, and blankets on a beautiful breezy full moon South Florida evening. It was a night that showed those who attended that we are nearing a return to a normal pre-pandemic lifestyle that includes attending live in-person concerts without the need to wear face coverings. On this night children were playing as they would in a non-pandemic world, playing tag and running around full of energy while adults smiled and talked with their neighbors who sat on chairs in front of their cars for the nearly three-hour concert. While many came for the music, it was clear that some came for the sermon, a message that was consistent in the lyrics of many of Casting Crowns songs.
Founding member singer/songwriter Mark Hall serves as a youth minister at Eagle’s Landing First Baptist Church in McDonough, Georgia; when he and the band are not globetrotting delivering their message of faith, they are raising families and keeping their day jobs at local churches. In between songs, Hall was quite transparent about his struggles as a young man and shared that those struggles continued into adulthood, including a bout with cancer in 2015 and the most recent moment during the pandemic. Clearly these talented musicians humbled the crowd with a message that they too are human and face the very same challenges and adversities that we all face. Casting Crowns was there to deliver a message through song and praise that belief in service to others, to reach out to help your fellow man (or woman) during a time of need is something we all have been needing lately. When Casting Crowns took the stage, an immediate outpouring of emotion was demonstrated by their most loyal fans. Most smiled, some cried, and some rocked out as each person in the crowd had their own unique connection to the music they have an affection for since the band first took the stage in 1999. Casting Crowns wasted no time jumping into their first song “Only Jesus,” the title track from the 2018 studio album of the same name. By now the crowd was fully engaged, and while many stood up on their own, raising their hands reaching as far as possible towards the sky, others stood after being prompted by the band. There was a huge video screen that was held by two giant cranes above the stage that had the words scrolling across to each song, leading many to sing along with the band nearly word for word. This is a band that is authentic, energetic, and thought-provoking. Casting Crowns didn’t disappoint as they reached deep into their catalog of 11 studio albums, playing their most recognized songs and thundering through a set list that included “One Step Away,” “Thrive,” “Just Be Held,” “The Well,” “Love Moved First,” “East to West,” and “Great Are You Lord.”
Led by Hall, Casting Crowns is comprised of a group of talented musicians who don’t rely on special effects to enhance their music; they are raw and pure talent that should be appreciated for simply that. The band was formed in Daytona Beach and has three remaining original members: Mark Hall (lead vocalist), Juan DeVevo (guitar and background vocals). and Melodee DeVevo (violin, backing vocals, cello). Other members include Chris Huffman (bass and background vocals), Megan Garrett (piano, keyboards, backing vocals), Brian Scoggin (drums), and Josh Mix (lead guitar and background vocals).
During their performance, it was quite clear that their unequaled style of music is much more than frontman Mark Hall, the band’s principal songwriter. Melodee Devevo primarily played violin but also took the lead and sang a couple of songs. Her husband, Juan Devevo, stayed mainly on the right side of the stage away from the limelight and played both the acoustic and electric guitar throughout the band’s entire set. While Hall handled most of the vocals, Megan Garrett stepped away from her keyboard where she had been neatly tucked into the corner of the stage to take the lead into several songs, giving Hall a break. The drumming duties were held down by Brian Scoggin, who provided a steady beat and in some songs a softer one, depending on the song. He along with guitarist Chris Huffman kept the rhythm going throughout the entire set.
If you have seen Casting Crowns perform in the past, you know why they continue to draw a large number of fans to their shows, and if you were there perhaps you can say you saw their last drive-in concert. It was an emotional night filled with spirit, and in the end it appeared that those who attended drove away uplifted by the gift of music feeling better than when they arrived. There is something to be said about this band: it gives hope to a chaotic world that is currently in an upheaval, that the world can be a place that is filled with love and can inspire others regardless of age, race, color or creed. Music is simply the delivery vehicle that perhaps will inspire those who listen to reach beyond what they think is possible for a greater life for themselves and those they cherish.