Holypalooza: Punk rock for God

Hanging out in Finlay Park is much different these days for Steve Seshun.

Holypalooza, the concert Sesshun has organized, will be held Saturday in the park. And it will be a joyous experience, very much unlike the one he had 17 years ago.

In 1992, Seshun and his then-girlfriend had gone to the park to smoke marijuana. On the way home, while driving through Five Points, they argued and she ran a stoplight.

The police pulled the car over, and, "I acted difficult," Seshun said.

"It wasn't my first time in trouble," he continued. "I was facing a DUI at the time."

His difficulties, which included assault on an officer, led to $50,000 bail - and two weeks in jail.

"I thought my life was over," Seshun said. "I didn't call anybody.

"I created problems for myself. I dug a ditch and kept digging."

His cellmates finally persuaded him to call for help, and his brother bailed him out. His father hired Jack Swerling to handle the legal side of things.

For his personal troubles, Seshun turned to God.

And he's hoping Holypalooza, which features punk and heavy bands, will give youth an outlet before they get misdirected.

"Our hearts are with the youth, the young, because I know how impressionable I was," Seshun said. "I know the struggles I had.

"So we're using genres of music that aren't typically catered to in Columbia and providing a dedicated stage to Christian music."

The bands scheduled to play - Sent By Ravens, This Providence and The Almost, among others - aren't your typical Christian-music bands. You won't hear their careening guitars and shouted lyrics on WMHK-FM 89.7, a local Christian-music station.

A few of the bands do share Christian messages, and some simply have Christian members in the bands.

"They're doing the best to live the lifestyle Jesus talks about and teaches in the Bible," Seshun said.

The park will be teeming with young punks and hipsters who seek to walk on a bright path. Seshun had debated moving Holypalooza, which is in its third year, to a farm, but he met opposition.

"A lot of people were disappointed when we might do it elsewhere," Seshun said. "No one else is doing stuff down there, so why not?

"It's kind of crazy to have the harder music down there in a way."

Hanging out in Finlay Park will be different Saturday, but in a positive way.

Here's who's playing Holypalooza:

Rahshawn: Electronica R&B, soul and praise music

ADVIKIT: Gospel rap

The Undivided: Rock band fronted by Tony Byroads, formerly of Crossfade

Inglorious: Formerly named Flynn, the band plays screamo Christian metal.

Zion: Christian rap

We Sail at Dawn: Christian metal

Sent By Ravens: Heavy and edgy rock band recently signed to Tooth & Nail Records

Inhale/Exhale: Ohio screamo band

This Providence: The indie-pop band played Vans Warped Tour this year.

The Almost: The side project of Underoath drummer Aaron Gillespie


WHEN: 1 to 10 p.m. Saturday

WHERE: Finlay Park, 930 Laurel St.

TICKETS: $10 in advance; $15 at the gate


MORE THAN MUSIC: There will also be skateboard demonstrations and various vendors at the park.