The Rapidian

Eighth annual Take Hold Fest unites local music scene

Bands from around the country united in Grand Rapids for a weekend of music and camaraderie
Valedictorian from Grand Rapids, MI

Valedictorian from Grand Rapids, MI /Noah Boland

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For more information about the Take Hold Church and The Upper Room, visit http://takeholdchurch.org/

New Heart from Indianapolis, IN

New Heart from Indianapolis, IN /Noah Boland

Kept On Hold from Detroit, MI

Kept On Hold from Detroit, MI /Noah Boland

By 5 p.m., most of Grand Rapids has either migrated towards the heart of downtown or settled into the comfort of their homes. But last Friday, an eager crowd filed into the Take Hold Church, located at 1975 Jefferson Ave. SE, kicking off a full weekend of music, camaraderie and worship.

This weekend marked the 8th annual Take Hold Fest, a music festival that prides itself on its eclectic blend of genres, beliefs and personalities. The lineup consisted of a wide spectrum of artists, from solo acoustic acts, to the heaviest hardcore bands the Midwest has to offer.

This year’s festival welcomed 75 different artists to Grand Rapids, some travelling from just down the road while others made the trek from as far as Arizona. Long-time friends from across the country were reunited for the weekend, greeting each other with warm embraces and gleaming smiles. Matt Weinberger, 23, and his band Township, whose members hail from Fond du Lac, Wis. and Minneapolis, Minn., made the trip to Grand Rapids to play the festival for the second time. “My favorite thing about Take Hold is getting to see people that I only get to see, like, once or twice out of the year,” Weinberger said. “Most of the time, we’ll be out on tour the same time as they will be, so we don’t get to see them, but this is a nice meet up.”

The attendees ranged from very young to very old, many wearing their facial piercings and vibrant tattoos with the utmost pride. Some donned spike-laden jean jackets, others simply wore an oversized flannel and a pair of dirtied sneakers, but nearly everyone wore some article of merchandise to exhibit their loyalty to a specific band.

By day, the Take Hold Church operates as a modern church that welcomes everyone from the devoted, to those that are simply curious about religion. The downstairs section of the church also operates as a regular punk/D.I.Y. venue known as The Upper Room. The space, a wide brick-enclosed room painted in vibrant streaks of color, has become an essential component of the Grand Rapids music scene.

According to 20-year-old Luke Dean, a regular at the Take Hold Church and the booking contact for The Upper Room, the church members play a major role in making the festival a success. While much of planning and booking process is handled by 28-year-old Micah Hill, other members of the church will provide help in the form of donations, housing for the bands, and preparing food for the festival. But despite all the preparation, the church just wants Take Hold to happen for the sake of the community. “We just kind of wing it, and pray that funds will be there,” Dean said.

Though the church has grown over the years, many of its members have roots in the punk/D.I.Y. scene. Dean explained that a portion of the church’s members grew up in the punk and hardcore community in West Michigan. They understand how valuable an event like this is to the scene.

Religious or not, all were welcomed to Take Hold Fest. Despite any differences between individuals, there was a sense of respect and openness towards everyone. “Everyone’s working together to create one big beautiful thing,” Dean said. Despite the church’s involvement in the festival, there is a focus placed on acceptance of people of all backgrounds.

The festival consisted of four different stages located throughout the church. Some rooms had an elevated stage. Regardless, every band was met with a positive energy that took a variety of different forms. One minute the crowd would simply be nodding along and singing, the next, people would be leaping off stages, aggressively swinging their limbs, and crowd surfing above the madness. The festival provided a brilliant representation of the support and welcoming nature of the Grand Rapids music scene. “It doesn’t matter who you came here for, people will give the time of day to anybody,” Weinberger said. “That’s definitely not something that you see everywhere.”

Since the festival’s beginning in 2008, Take Hold Fest has grown into something bigger than just the music. The bonds that tie the community together have only tightened with time. As close as everyone is, there is always room for growth. For people like Weinberger and Dean, the festival is a family reunion that emerged from their passion for music and search for acceptance. Take Hold Fest has become home for anyone that’s lost, whether they know it or not. “I love seeing it grow. I love seeing my family grow,” Dean said. “I just love being with people that love me, and that I love.”

Stay connected with The Upper Room on Facebook for upcoming shows and events.

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