Thunderground Kicks Off Fall Season That Could Top Opening Year
By Cooper Nelson
GCU News Bureau
Melodious electric beats intertwined with distorted, disjointed bass drops as instrumental pulses echoed off the concrete walls enclosing Thunderground.
Polychromatic lasers, magnified by the dimly lit venue, slashed through a blanket of dense smoke to dance on the walls in cadence with two DJs spinning and twisting knobs to create the eclectic sound.
Nearly 200 energized Grand Canyon University students, packed tightly together, lifted their hands in the air as they bounced to the beat. Not even the ringing of a fire alarm – not once, but twice – could stop the show.
With four words from Christian hip-hop artist and spoken-word poet Propaganda, GCU’s fall Thunderground series officially kicked off:
“Y’all ready to party?”
Propaganda shook Thunder Alley’s underground, clublike concert venue Thursday night with a flow of eloquently articulated lyrics and rhymes laced within electrifying techno beats set against a confident Christian message.
DJ Efechto and DJ Promote helped Propaganda launch the second year of live Thunderground shows. He is the first of six artists to visit the underground music club (see inset box on upcoming Thunderground shows, or go to www.gcu.edu/thunderground for more details).
Thunderground Fall Lineup
The Thunderground concert series features Christian artists across a range of musical genres. Fall shows cost $5 for GCU students. The five remaining shows:
Sept. 26: Worship artist Phil Wickham, who will hold his national CD release party.
Oct. 17: Christian pop band Capital Kings.
Oct. 30: Jesus Culture music artist Jake Hamilton.
Nov. 7: Pop-rock band The Afters.
Dec. 5: Hip-hop artist Tedashii.
After six shows last year, Thunderground gained attention as a top West Coast destination for Christian artists. This fall’s lineup, featuring artists ranging from singer-songwriter Phil Wickham to Christian rapper Tedashii, is expected to build off last year’s success and position Thunderground as the central hub for live Christian music in Phoenix.
Thunderground is well-known by artists as an intimate venue to personally connect with fans. Crowds range from 200 to 400 students in a cozy, dark, and loud venue unlike anywhere else.
“I actually prefer the 200 to 400 range. It’s more intimate. You can’t hide. You have to perform, and perform well,” said Propaganda, who has played Thunderground twice before, during the Canyon Music Festival and Lecrae’s Unashamed Tour.
“I can’t think of another university in the country that has anything as cool as this and understands the culture well enough to put on something like this,” Propaganda said. “I know the shine hasn’t worn off yet in that I’m impressed every time (I play here).”
Bret Ceren, assistant director of GCU’s faith-based marketing team, said Thunderground is designed to cater to students to enhance their college experience.
One key addition is a regular “Thundergrounds” event, where free coffee from Phoenix coffeehouses and Caketini cupcakes are available to students at shows.
“The entire purpose of Thunderground is to offer an experience to students that they can’t get anywhere else,” Ceren said.
Some students view Thunderground as a convenient escape from hectic campus life, while others gravitate to the cheap entertainment close to home.
“It’s awesome and super-cheap and you can hang out with your friends and get away,” said Breann Shelley, a GCU freshman who experienced Thunderground for the first time Thursday night.
Scott Newman, also a freshman, said he has seen multiple concerts and was impressed by the unique aspects of the venue.
“I personally liked it better than other venues,” said Newman, who was a fan of Propaganda before the show. “I liked that it was underground and inside. It made it a different experience than other places.”
Ceren said he was pleased with the launch of the fall series and is looking forward to what Thunderground can become as a concert venue as it continues to grow.
“(Thunderground) is garnering a reputation in the music industry,” he said. “It’s a place to play when you’re on the West Coast.
“It’s all about a custom experience that the artists can enjoy and the students can remember for the rest of their lives.”
Contact Cooper Nelson at 639.7511 or [email protected].