Reflecting on the Crowder Band Show at Terminal 5, NYC

This past Friday, I took a vanful of Sr. Highers and God’s favorite youth leader to Terminal 5 in NYC to check out the David Crowder Band in concert.  If you have ever seen a Crowder show you know you are in for a good time but you also know you are in for a worshipful experience.  They have this interesting ability to combine the reverence and a great mood that allows you to think, “I”m worshipping, I’m having fun, it’s not cheesy, and I don’t feel guilty.  Well alright then.”

Taken from @crowderbands twitpic

Taken from @crowderband's twitpic

Opening was Seabird who got a lot of Relevant Magazine buzz.  We also caught their set at this year’s RevGen.  I think what I like about Seabird is that they  are a band that has a solid piano feel but doesn’t sound like Coldplay.  Now we all like us some Viva La Vida but every once in a while it’s cool to see a piano and not think Chris Martin. Not only do they have their own sound, but they don’t dress like hipsters.  They pointed that out when they said they needed to buy skinny jeans so people wouldn’t stare at their overalls.  At least the boys from, umm ….  I think they said Kentucky which makes that the first time I heard that state mentioned all year since I filled in Kentucky for my March Madness bracket.  Anyway, they are comfortable with themselves.  They have some solid songs like “Rescue”, “Falling For You” (which I hear was on Grey’s Anatomy) and “Don’t Know You Are Beautiful”.  You can listen to their myspace stream here.

Following Seabird was a Danyew.  I think it’s the lead’s last name and I think he said his first name was Phil.  Not sure.  A lot of the attention went to his drummer, Brandon, who plays like he was Jesus clearing out the temple.  Taking no prisoners, he beats those drums with everything he’s got including coins from a barista’s tip jar.  I remember liking the sound but they were more entertaining to watch.  It got them noticed and I am sure they will figure out the balance of their music and showmanship.  I think the catchy song was “Streetlight”.  It’s about how God hovers over your life like a streetlight and illuminates the road but then it gets dark again but then there’s another streetlight.  See?  Ok, it’s not about that at all, in fact, I have no idea what it is but they seem cool and I wish them the best.

Then Crowder Band took the stage – in suits because you know, it’s the Church Music tour and you have to dress up for church.  There is so much I like about this band.  They understand that worship music needs to evolve and they create a lot of good energy that isn’t really directed at them. Who would have thought that this tall, skinny guy with big hair would be able to lead the masses over so many years in worship.  I mean let’s face it, “being sexy for Jesus” is the last thing on anyone’s mind.  The words are on a screen asking you to sing along and at every show there is a mandate to just sing loud and not pretty and that’s what people did.

The 80’s new wave sound of Church Music is a brilliant departure from Remedy and Collision and my hope is that we learn to incorporate these new songs in our worship communities.  It will be tough but I hope to see worship bands in the future use these new sounds.  I’m all for guitar, drums and the Jars of Clay violin but it will be nice to see how we evolve from here.  They played the new stuff like “Happiness” and “How He Loves” and the old stuff like “O Praise Him”, “You Are My Joy” and “Glory of it All”.

To name three other big bands in the Christian music scene that I genuinely appreciate would be Jars of Clay, Switchfoot and uhh, … ummm … well three is a lot but that’s why Crowder is special.

Worst part of the night was not being able to escape all the Owl City mentions (you know who you are).  Come on people, it’s catchy but we all know it’s a publicity stunt by Relient K’s Matt Thiessen.

taken from the stage by Mike (the bassist).

taken from the stage by Mike (the bassist).

Reflecting on the U2 Concert at Giants Stadium

This past Thursday I had the good fortune of going to see U2 at  Giants Stadium with some good friends. First, even if you think U2 is  overrated and are convinced that Bono is  the antichrist, you should  really go see a U2 show.  Second, even if    you don’t have the  money, go find a treasure in someone’s property,  sell everything you  own, buy the field, and resell it so you can buy a  ticket to see U2.  If  that’s too impractical, then remember the good  Lord created you  with two kidneys.  The one is essential for life and  the other is your  U2 concert fund.

I’ve seen U2 in concert a few times (yes, I was born with a surplus of  extra kidneys) and each show has been an incredible experience.  It is not an exaggeration that I’ve been to over 100 concerts – Bob Dylan a few times, White Stripes, Sufjan, Death Cab, Arcade Fire, Wilco, to name a few.  I’ve even seen Geoff Moore and the Distance and can tell you that U2 is a life altering experience – truly amazing.  I am not sure I’ve ever felt that kind of electricity before (I mean except for our church on Sunday morning).

I love the sound. From the Edge’s guitar to Larry’s drumming to Adam’s baselines, they sound great. And of course, I love Bono’s words –

I can stand up for hope, faith, love

But while I’m getting over certainty

Stop helping God across the road like a little old lady” (from Stand Up Comedy)


Dressed up like a car crash

The wheels are turning byt youre upside down

You say when he hits you, you dont mind

Because when he hurts you, you feel alive” (from Stay)

I love that each show tries to be bigger than the last one.   Now a couple of things regarding the show.  I understand the criticism that it’s similar to the Dismantle … Bomb tour, the circle stage from All You Can’t Leave… but this was a stadium tour.  The feat is that they have 70,000 people seeing and hearing the music in amazing quality.  While I won’t go so far and call it a miraculous feeding of 5000, you are hard-pressed to find a concert experience of this quality for so many thousands of people. My only disappointment was that the stage was not directly in the middle of the field.  We have our theories why but it’s not worth mentioning.

Speaking of the stage, it is incredible.  Ths year featured “The Claw” and it’s a sight to see.  It takes 4 days to set up, two to tear down.  They have 3 sets because of it’s setup time and they use a crew of 500 people and 189 semi-trucks.  While it may not be the most environmentally friendly tour (as if there actually was such a thing), it’s certainly helping the economy (for those who keep track of that sort of thing).  Frankly I am not bothered by these things.  Some concerts are like wedding celebrations to me and practicality goes out the window.  I mean do the guests of the bridegroom while he is with them?  (Yes, that is used in its proper context ;-)

I also love that Bono uses his celebrity status for good causes – Third World Debt in Africa, apartheid, freedom in Iran and creating awareness of  Aung San Suu Kyi’s unjust home confinement in Burma.

I love how spiritual these experiences are.  Some may think that Bono is drawing people to himself but I and millions of people will tell you that Bono and friends are used as vessel to draw people into community, solidarity, promote love and justice and force us all to realize there’s someone greater that is behind and in front of all this. – I really believe that.

Please know that this is not an apologetic of my huge claims but a witness.

I went to a rock n ‘roll show and communed with God.

For those interested, this was the set list:


Get on your boots

Mysterious ways

Beautiful day – She’s a Rainbow – Blackbird

No Line on the Horizon



Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For/Stand By Me

Unknown Caller

Until the End of the World


The Unforgettable Fire


City of Blinding Lights


I’ll go crazy if I Don’t Go Crazy Tonite

Sunday Bloody Sunday/Rock the Cazba


Walk On

One/Amazing grace

Where the Streets Have No Name – All You Need Is Love


Ultra Violet Rays

With or Without You

Moment of Surrender

Revelation Generation – What I think Rev Gen Could Improve On – Post 2

In my last post, I gave my praise about Rev Gen.  Each year they have demonstrated they are trying to make this event better and so for this post, here are some things they ought to consider.

1. Are all those tables in the Resource Tent necessary?  Honestly, some of them mock our faith more than help it.  I know it helps offset the costs of the event but is it substantial?  Unless they are serving as an example of what artists like Derek Webb are singing against, I’m fairly certain that if Jesus were to return on Labor Day weekend, He would first stop at this tent, overthrow half these tables and then continue on to that East Gate in Jerusalem that He’s supposed to walk through ;-)

2. I think it’s time to stop the annoying tract givers as soon as you walk into the festival.  Those money tracts are absolutely ridiculous.

3. I love the leader tent, it really is helpful.  But this year the vibe seemed a bit more stingy with the free drinks.  If youth leaders are abusing it and handing out free water, they could just put up a sign that says something like, “In order to provide adequate refreshments to our leaders, please help us by limiting these to our leaders.” or something like that.

Revelation Generation – What I Liked – Post 1

The story of “Revelation Generation” begins quite awkwardly for me.  I had just begun my  second pastorate here and had decided to take the students to this new music festival  with a  name that I wasn’t crazy about.  Long story short – Rev Gen got rained out and  headed to  Philly.  The following year, we attended and the kids loved the Philly Stage and  stayed for  Newsboys.  Last year was exactly the same, kids loved Philly Stage, and the  Newsboys did  the exact same set list, down to Peter telling the same stories. We left    during Breakfast in  Hell to beat the traffic.  After that, I was fairly certain that we would not return (We have a saying in Texas, “That says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again”). How could we return for a fourth year?  Well, we’re glad we did and here’s why.

What I liked about Rev Gen:

1. The excellent line-up.  The Philly stage attracts a number of our students.  The NY Stage has gotten alot better.  One year they had Brian Latrell (I believe he was a Backstreet Boy and I refuse to Google that for any type of confirmation).  Opening bands like the Fold and Seabird were steps in the right direction.  Then headlining bands like Relient K and Switchfoot tell people like me that they are really trying to make this a great event.  There were more tents like the Urban Stage, the Come and Listen Stage (which is a label that gives away free music), and the Nashville Stage which had Bethany Dillon, Jon Foreman, and Derek Webb.  (I really, really liked that they invited Derek and didn’t censor him.  He’s an important prophetic voice in the Church and along with many of my friends, we were grateful he was there).

2. We didn’t do the Friday concert last year but this year, they had Jars of Clay, Matt West, Delirious, and Mercy Me.  For most of us, wanting to hear  Jars do new songs off “The Long Fall Back to Earth” was the reason we came Friday.  The unfortunate thing was we underestimated a couple of things.  Some of our students had just returned to school and so by the time we left, we missed most of the bands.  Two, Jars wasn’t headlining.  Three, Mercy Me was.  And Four, it wasn’t really Jars’ best show.  Not a big crowd yet, not very energetic either.  Then Jars said they lost track of time and were told they had just played their last song.  Frankly, I think the concert organizers should have let them play their last song, it was clearly an accident and they are an established band.  I don’t know the business of putting on concerts but I’m pretty sure Jars has earned enough respect to play one more.  So in the most anti-climatic way, Dan took the blame, apologized for not paying attention to the clock and said something like, “We want to be invited back so we’ll say good-bye here.”  I thought it was pretty classy to submit to the stage manager and end their show the worst way possible.  I know I’m not being complimentary but it was an awkward moment that Jars handled really well and it spoke to me a bit.

3. Unless you go into the merchandise tent, you don’t feel that you are at one of those cheesy Christian concert events.  The production is fantastic from the signs a few miles away directing you how to get this to obscure farm to the numerous workers and volunteers that create a presence of “we know what we are doing so don’t get any ideas.”  They have great signage, very professional looking stages, and enough porta-potites to “facilitate the pending needs” of their own feeding of 5000.

4. Cheap Water.  Bottled water was only a dollar.  I still think water bottles should be allowed in because there are no water fountains but $1 water is a fair deal.  Speaking of concessions, food tickets do help eliminate lines at the actual food booths – nice job.

5. I appreciated the leader tent, (even though they seemed a little more stingy with the water this year).

6. All the workers, volunteers, security measures, demonstrate their professionalism and communicate that they are serious about keeping control of this event.  This is important to me because too many Christian events are put on by well-intentioned churches with not enough expertise or volunteers and people, students especially, find the weak spots and exploit them.  For instance, there is only one way to actually get in.  The perimeter is fenced in very well and monitored.  As a youth pastor, I like this level of safety and security and aside from a few check-ins, our students roam as they please and check in with me every so often so I can make sure they are hydrated and more importantly not hanging out with home-schooled kids from the hyper-fundamentalist church ;-)

7.  Loved going with Tim Nye, Josie, and my youth group. Also loved seeing my friends, Evan Curry, Eric Couch, Charlie Lyons Pardue, KJ Marks, and appreciating seeing Rob Schwinge.

Stay tuned for what I didn’t like.

Coldplay set list, October 27, 2008 – Izod Center, East Rutherford, NJ

Set List:

Life In Technicolor
Violet Hill
Clocks (cool laser lights)
In My Place
Speed Of Sound
Cemeteries Of London (black and white live video feed)
Chinese Sleep Chant
Fix You
Strawberry Swing (from the lower, right stage)
God Put A Smile Upon Your Face


The Hardest Part (dedicated to Jennifer Hudson)

Postcards From Far Away
Viva La Vida
Lost! The Scientist
Death Will Never Conquer
Viva La Vida

End of first set

Reappear on tiny stage in section 104

Reign Of Love

back on main stage:

Lovers In Japan
Death And All His Friends

Final Encore

Yellow The Escapist

Revelation Generation

Once again this Labor Day Weekend, we took our youth group to Revelation Generation.  Now their third year doing this, I must say that it’s a fantastic event.  Granted the first year got drowned in a terrible rain storm so I wasn’t really expecting much last year.  However, comparing this year to last year, there was improvement.   They have 3 stages at RevGen:  The Nashville Stage, Philly Stage, and NY Stage.  Nashville’s headliners were Shawn McDonald, Bethany Dillon and Phil Keagy.  Philly had August Burns Red, Devil Wears Prada, the Myriad, Flyleaf, and As I Lay Dying.  Those that performed on NY were Robbie Seay, Skillet, Sixpence, Toby Mac, and Newsboys (among others).

What I liked:

–  that my students were very excited about the Philly stage line-up

–  that they told the crowd how to mosh.  Pick people up immediately when they fall down, no crowd surfing, practice doing moves (instead of just flailing your arms, which I think is a move but anyway).

– that Toby Mac always puts on a  good show.

– the variety of food they had

– the pastor/youth leader tent with water and coffee.  Thanks for taking care of us youth pastors.

– the nice job on the signage

– the big screen next to the stage

– the section for tents and blankets (behind the soundboard).

What I didn’t like:

– the “preferred viewing” section for $10 more.  It’s like first class seating.  Seems so unChristian to reward those who pay more.  Why not give the preferred viewing to the old or short or at least to those in that band’s fan club.  

– the overpriced food.  Though water was only $2, I thought the food was a bit much.

– the fact that Newsboys did the exact same set as last year, with the same stories and even prayers!!!  Peter, you’re so much better then this.  You ought to know if you are the headlining band for the second straight year that you can’t do the same set, with the same jokes, and again the same prayers!!!  One thing is to have the novelty of the spinning sideways drum kit thing but this was a little … dumb.

We left during Breakfast in Hell.  Once again, our students had a great time.  And we’ll probably come back unless it’s a bad lineup.  And if Newsboys are headlining, I’ve already memorized the Isaiah 40 prayer, I’ll recite it on the walk back to the vans.

Derek Webb in NYC

Was hoping to see him on a day when he wasn’t wearing a white shirt but that’s his uniform.
Was a great night. Here’s the set list:

1. (Don’t remember – anyone know? )
2. Marry You All Over Again
3. New Law
4. King or a Kingdom
5. Mistake of My Life
6. What You Want
7. Name
8. Wedding Dress
9. A Savior on Capitol Hill
10. This Too Shall Be Made Right
11. Set Free


The Shins

Saw the Shins at the Electric Factory. Great show!

going to see the Raconteurs