Initial sound checks for Grand Canyon University’s new club-like music venue, Thunderground, hit 110 decibels. To put this into perspective, a jet engine registers about 120 decibels at takeoff. With acoustics like that, it is no surprise that Thunderground has brought Christian music alive on GCU’s central-Phoenix campus, featuring four concerts already, with several others booked. Thunderground gives students and Christian music fans the opportunity to experience national recording artists in an intimate setting.
Scott Fehrenbacher, who oversees faith-based marketing and development at GCU, said the Thunderground concept stemmed from interest in developing a “small, intimate Christian club” that would create community among students and generate a buzz around the music industry in Nashville, where GCU has developed relationships to bring major Christian acts to campus. But unlike big shows, the exclusivity of seeing performers in such an off-the-radar setting is designed to appeal to current and prospective students.
With room for roughly 600 fans, Fehrenbacher said Thunderground “allows for an intimacy you can’t find anywhere else.”
GCU has booked artists that exemplify a Christian lifestyle and who can help students connect with their faith through contemporary music. The fall Thunderground lineup has included a mix of artists and genres such as Thousand Foot Krutch, Manic Drive, Andy Mineo, Jason Castro, and Group 1 Crew. While Thousand Foot Krutch is known for its high-energy hard rock, performers such as American Idol’s Jason Castro provide a mellower singer-songwriter show.
Just an hour after completing his recent Thunderground concert, Jason Castro tweeted, “I think tonight was my favorite show to date… I had such a blast! Thanks GCU!!”
On Nov. 2, as hip-hop artist Lecrae wraps up his “Unashamed Tour” headlining performance at GCU Arena, students can make their way over to Thunderground for an after-party type of show by one of that tour’s performers, Andy Mineo. It will be the only after-concert show on the entire Unashamed Tour. Mineo said he has played in similar-size venues at Syracuse University and Azusa Pacific University. Thunderground has a shot at becoming something special, he said.
“Crowds like this are some of my favorites,” Mineo said. “It’s an opportunity to engage the fans. You can see on their faces when they like or don’t like something. I try to be approachable, and after these shows you can hang out with people.”
Next on the concert lineup, Group 1 Crew will be performing at Thunderground on Dec. 3.
The Thunderground stage is located in the lower level of GCU’s food court, Thunder Alley, in the same nook near the bowling lanes where autographed guitars – such as one by Switchfoot, inscribed with “Go Lopes!” – line the walls. Folk-rock singer Moriah Peters, a GCU student, performed at an album-release party at the venue last spring.
There’s also a personal connection that led Thousand Foot Krutch into the opening spot for the Thunderground series. Band member Trevor McNevan wrote GCU’s anthem, “Feel The Place Go BOOM!” — which is played at home basketball games at GCU Arena.
As GCU is committed to encouraging a Christian lifestyle and community with the music featured at Thunderground, there is a stronger commitment to providing students with a quality, value-based education. Since 1949, Grand Canyon University has been helping students find their purpose and achieve their potential by preparing them to pursue their chosen career. As a Christian university, GCU also encourages students to find their purpose in Christ, with an emphasis on applying Christian values and ethics to their studies and to the workplace.
For more information about earning your degree at Grand Canyon University, call 855-761-5161 or visit gcu.edu/ccm2012.