Rock the Universe

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The 2006 Logo for Rock the Universe

Rock the Universe is an annual Christian rock festival that takes place at Universal Studios Florida. It started in 1998, and it normally takes place in the first or second week of September.

The festival has had three main stages over the years. One is "The Yard Stage", also known as "The Boneyard Stage", which is located on the edge of the park in between the Jimmy Neutron and Twister attractions. It is the largest of the stages, but it was used for the last time at Rock the Universe 2008, as the section will be turned into the entrance for the Rip, Ride, and Rock It roller coaster. The stage always faced outward toward the park except for 2008, where it was up against the building that houses the Jimmy Neutron ride, and facing the building that houses Twister, as a wall had been put it where it used to be to prepare for the construction. Another stage is "The Hollywood Stage", which is by the Central Park area and the lake, close to the middle of the park. It faces Mel's Diner. The third stage is "The Praise and Worship Stage", which is located in the Animal Planet Theater, though it has not been in use in the past couple of years. A new stage for concerts has been built near the entrance to Rip, Ride, and Rock It, in the same area where the Bone Yard once was. This stage was used for the 2009 festival.

The bands that have appeared the most are Relient K at eleven appearances; the Newsboys and Third Day at eight appearances; Skillet and Jars of Clay at seven appearances; GRITS and TobyMac at six appearances; and Audio Adrenaline at five appearances. TobyMac also appeared twice with dc Talk, which means 2010 was his eighth visit to the Christian rock festival. Mark Stuart of Audio Adrenaline was a special guest speaker at the 2009 festival, marking his sixth appearance at the festival and the first without being a performer.

Rock the Universe is one of two major Christian rock festivals held in Orlando each year. The other festival is Night of Joy, which is held at Walt Disney World, on the same nights as Rock the Universe. The two festivals are both successful, despite the matching dates. Many bands tend to switch between the two festivals. Formerly, Cornerstone Florida, a spinoff of the original Cornerstone Festival, was held in Orlando annually, in May of each year.

The festival is a member of the Christian Festival Association.

Skillet and Rock the Universe[edit]

The festival has been given much support by both the fans and the bands who play it. John Cooper of Skillet has said on numerous occasions that it is his favorite show to play each year, and had already expressed his desire to return in 2008 at the 2007 festival. [1] [2] [3]

Cooper spoke at Rock the Universe 2007 about how their guitarist Ben Kasica had been very sick and almost missed the show, and he went into detail on the subject of Kasica and Rock the Universe in an interview. Jesus Freak Hideout [4] reported on this, saying, "A serious illness set back a member of Skillet recently. Frontman John Cooper writes, Our guitar player, Ben, has had several weeks of feeling ill. We took him to the emergency room late one night on the road and he was diagnosed with strep throat. We had a show that night, and after a shot and some medication, he played the show at a festival called Enfuego... The next week Ben seemed to get worse and we had to take him to the emergency room again where they were confused of what he actually had. As it turned out Ben was going to have to have immediate removal of his tonsils because of the swelling and bleeding he was experiencing. I thought we would have to cancel some shows since we would be leaving that same night to go to Florida. The biggest bummer was that we would have to miss "Rock the Universe" at Universal Studios, which is one of my all-time favorite shows we have ever played. So, we sat up all night and taught our guitar tech Sean some guitar parts so we could do the shows. We slept for a total of ZERO hours and then drove to the airport to fly to Miami! Nothing can stop Skillet from the rock show baby! We played 6 songs with Sean on guitar. Then something happened that I hope never happens again: I had to play guitar for 4 songs because we did not have time to teach them to Sean. I stink on the guitar! It was the first time in 11 years that I have played guitar on stage and it was uncomfortable! But, it wasn't too bad because the show was rockin'!! Then, amazingly enough, the doctor postponed Ben's surgery a day because Ben was too weak to have it. Then he woke up the next day feeling 100% better and the doctor released him to fly down and meet us in Orlando for "Rock the Universe"! On the lighter side, Cooper also noted, Lori has been proposed to a lot on the road at shows. However, if I am not mistaken the one this year in Orlando was the first guy who actually brought a ring! We were signing some autographs, and the next thing I know there is a guy on one knee, holding up a ring!!"

John Cooper mentioned his love for Rock the Universe once again at the 2008 festival. Surprisingly, the band did not be play at Rock the Universe 2009, their first absence from the festival since 2004. They instead played at Night of Joy. The band returned to Rock the Universe in 2010, where they headlined it for the first time, playing on the main stage. Skillet returned to Night of Joy for 2011.

Fireflight and Rock the Universe[edit]

The 2009 had the first appearance of Fireflight, a band originally from Eustis, Florida, near Orlando. The band talked about how after nine and a half years of being a band, they had always dreamed of playing Rock the Universe, and finally were. After this announcement, the crowd gave the band massive support for the rest of the show, cheering loudly even after their encore. The band was invited back for 2010, where they again expressed their love of the festival.

Lineups by Year[edit]


September 9 September 10
Skillet Lecrae
Jeremy Camp TobyMac
Matt Maher Colton Dixon
Rend Collective Family Force 5
KB Andy Mineo


September 11 September 12
Switchfoot Casting Crowns
Newsboys Jesus Culture
Crowder Planetshakers
Kari Jobe Tenth Avenue North
Kutless Building 429
Family Force 5 Andy Mineo


Friday, September 5

Third Day
Jeremy Camp
Kari Jobe
Soulfire Revolution
Rend Collective
About a Mile

Saturday, September 6

Family Force 5
Andy Mineo
Love and the Outcome


Friday, September 6

Chris Tomlin
Tenth Avenue North
Family Force 5
Colton Dixon
Kyle Sherman

Saturday, September 7

Casting Crowns
Jesus Culture
Relient K


The official lineup was announced on March 5, 2012

Friday, September 7

Jeremy Camp
Family Force 5
For King & Country
Robert Pierre

Saturday, September 8

Relient K
Tenth Avenue North
Britt Nicole
Rhett Walker Band
Group 1 Crew


The official lineup was announced in late February 2011. [5]

Friday, September 9

Saturday, September 10


Main sign for the 2010 event.

The official lineup was announced on March 3, 2010. [6]

Friday, September 10

Saturday, September 11


The official 2009 lineup was announced in March 2009.[7]

Friday, September 11:

Saturday, September 12:


Friday, September 5:

The Boneyard Stage:

Hollywood Stage:

Saturday, September 6:

The Boneyard Stage:

Hollywood Stage:


Friday, September 7:

Saturday, September 8:

Special Appearances and Speakers:

  • Bethany Hamilton (Friday and Saturday)
  • Daren Streblow (Friday and Saturday)
  • David Nasser (Friday)
  • Dr. Jay Strack (Saturday)
  • Brent Crowe (Saturday)
  • Chris Peck (Sunday)


Kutless playing on the Hollywood Stage at Rock the Universe 2006

Friday, September 8:

Saturday, September 9:


Friday, September 9:

Saturday, September 10:


Friday, September 10:

Saturday, September 11:


Friday, September 5:

Saturday, September 6:


Friday, September 6:

Saturday, September 7:


Friday, September 7:

Saturday, September 8:


Friday, September 8:

Saturday, September 9:


Friday, September 10:

Saturday, September 11:


Friday, September 11:

Saturday, September 12

External links[edit]