Free at Last

In its first year, the Hoi Polloi Music Fest is already the largest event of its kind in the United States: an all-ages, family-style marathon of good vibes and grinding guitars that features a dozen acts in four days. And though the heavy-hitting Christian artists -- including MXPX, P.O.D., Switchfoot and Reliant K -- will be loud, the air will be clear and the crowd will be sober.

"There's no alcohol, no smoking, no obscene behavior. A lot of my friends can't imagine how that could be fun," festival director Jeff Taylor says, laughing. "People get tired of the smoky haze and drunk people around them when they go to a show; they're tired of people throwing up on them. It's kind of a pattern of changing what we put into our brain -- the whole idea of Œgarbage in, garbage out.'"

Youth and church groups from all over the country are heading to Denver for Hoi Polloi, joining a time-honored tradition in the world of summer music festivals. But Taylor says Hoi Polloi appeals to those who don't always feel at home in concert settings.

"There's a whole group of kids that don't usually get to go to shows," he says. "Their parents won't let them go see P.O.D. or MXPX in a regular concert setting. But this will be a very positive environment, a great opportunity to get kids to see some great bands. Families are going as whole groups."

Hoi Polloi is designed to attract the non-faithful, as well: There will be no preaching, no proselytizing, no church outreach outside of what comes from the stage.

"There will be booths for the parents to hang out, record companies, voter signups and different things to look at," Taylor says. "But there won't be any speakers or anything like that. We're unlike other Christian festivals in that we're allowing the musicians to say what they want to say, and that's it. We're just trying to create something that's positive and encouraging."

And fun. -- Laura Bond

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