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Faith and Fun Collide at Florida’s Premier Christian Music Event

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Chills, Thrills, and Praise, Rock the Universe 2024 Delivers an Unforgettable Spiritual Roller Coaster.

January 27th, 2024

The biggest and best religious event rocks Florida once again.

Who says Christians and believers can’t have fun? Well, only those that have not yet experienced Rock the Universe. Florida’s biggest and best Christian music event truly encapsulates its slogan, ‘Rock, Ride, and Rejoice’! For two nights (now) in January, Orlando’s Universal Studios Resort adds three stages of Grammy-nominated artists and the who’s-who of praise and worship music to their already top-notch themed adventure park.

Universal Studios is the proverbial blueprint for thrill parks. The place is filled with cutting-edge adventure rides like Harry Potter and the Escape from Gringotts, where fans even flocked outside of the attraction to see the huge fire-breathing dragon; Jimmy Fallon’s Race Through New York, which is one of many quintessential 3D rides, and the likewise popular Fast & Furious Supercharged.

Rock the Universe does give attendees the option of getting a 3-park, 3-day pass which includes all three of their parks (Universal Studios, Islands of Adventure, Volcano Bay), plus the concerts Friday night, Saturday night and some great services on Sunday. Although I didn’t do this, in hindsight, this is the way to go. To only experience one night or one park is like skipping a delicious 3-course meal and only having the dessert. It tastes great, but you missed everything else that would’ve made a perfect meal.

Friday night saw a well-mixed lineup that featured artists like the hype-inducing Christian rapper Lecrae, Elevation Rhythm, and one of the best worship songwriters of today in Cody Carnes. The headline, though, had to be the highly popular band We the Kingdom. They’ve been burning up the Christian charts with hits like “Holy Water,” “Child of Love,” “Jesus Does” and “Dancing on the Waves.” Their Nashville sound is so deep and so soothing that it hits you right in your soul.

I was there to review Rock the Universe’s 2nd night on Saturday. The park had been open for regular guests all day, but the gates opened for members of this special event at 4 pm. After 6 pm, only those attending Rock the Universe with a given wristband were permitted to stay. There were three stages set up fairly close to each other with alternating times of the performances.

The first artist to really kick off the night was Hulvey. This Georgia native Christian rapper was nominated in the GMA’s for the Best New Artist of the Year. He really showcased not just his rhyming chops, but also his motivating skills. During songs like “Altar” and “Can’t Tell it All,” he had the entire crowd bouncing up and down to the beat.

Other artists that night, which were vibing as well, were Cain and Andrew Ripp. Cain was like a ray of light that pierced through the night sky with their song of proclamation, “I’m So Blessed.” Adding to that were hits like “Yes He Can” and one of the best songs of the year, “Rise Up (Lazarus).” Andrew Ripp is an extremely talented singer/songwriter also from the Nashville area. His stripped-down vocals and praise-filled hooks and choruses took you right to the heart of worship. The crowd sang along with him to hits like “For the Love of God,” “Fill My Cup,” “Rejoice” and easily my favorite song, the anthem “Jericho,” which had everyone singing and stomping around.

Saturday night at Rock the Universe had a performer who is known as being the best sing-along artist in the Christian genre, or maybe only second to Chris Tomlin. His name is Phil Wickham, and I’ve seen him at many church events, but this was a whole another level.

He belted out hit after hit after hit, with songs like “This is Our God,” “Battle Belongs,” “House of the Lord” and “Living Hope.” But as expected, the crowd truly erupted when he performed the timeless classic, “This is Amazing Grace.”

Rock the Universe was open until 1 am in the morning, and those that had the energy and the ability to stay up caught one of the most popular and successful Christian bands of the last two decades, Casting Crowns. This larger-than-life band is well known already in Central Florida and the Daytona area, but with an extensive catalog of hits, it’s almost impossible to not know them.

With so many songs in their arsenal, everyone was screaming out what they wanted to hear them play. To screaming fans, they delighted the crowd singing, “East to West,” the haughtily beautiful, “Praise You in the Storm” and “Just Be Held.” They opened up with fun and upbeat songs, “Start Right Here and ‘One Step Away.” Tiredness quickly left as everyone was dancing and singing to the Lord. Casting Crowns ended their set with two highly popular songs, “If We Are the Body” and “Voice of Truth.”

Rock the Universe 2024 had a lot of great and wonderful performances, but no one brought it like Brandon Lake did. From start to finish, he pulled off a heart-filled, hard-hitting, Spirit-led worship set that was incomparable. I’ve seen Brandon Lake perform previously with Elevation Worship, but had no idea just how popular he was. During his sound check alone, about a thousand people polled in already cheering him. When he started his set, there wasn’t an open space anywhere from in front of the Hollywood Coaster where the stage was set up, to all the way back past the Villains and Minion Rides. It was like nothing I’d seen before.

Brandon Lake opened up with “Praise You Anywhere” and got everyone moving in spite of being packed in so tightly. Other songs that kept the holy juices flowing were “Rattle,” “Lion,” “Fear is Not My Future” and “Rest on Us.”

Brandon Lake was great at connecting with the audience in sincerity and telling us his life verse in Ephesians 3:20. It seemed like whatever he played, the audience backed him up and sang every syllable of his songs like “Graves into Gardens,” “Tear Off the Roof” and “House of Miracles” where he declared healing for those in need.

Brandon Lake’s popularity really grew with the launch of his song “Gratitude,” which was featured in the incredible series The Chosen. It was a sight to behold as tens of thousands of people were all lifting up their hands in unison singing “hallelujah!” He ended his set with an extended version of his new hit “Praise,” which had the audience chanting and singing with him.

Rock the Universe 2024 was now in the books. It might’ve been too crowded, it might’ve been impossible to take any real photos, they might’ve run out of ice and anywhere to sit and not get stepped on, but because it was for God, it was well worth it. To see not division, but rather a people united to love the Lord and each other makes Rock the Universe one of the greatest events that you can go to annually and be changed for the better from it.

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