Friday, July 19

Screen Scene: David Crowder Band

There is a time and a place to preach to the choir. Yesterday evening, the preacher was the David Crowder Band, and the choir was the crowd of praise-music enthusiasts who took over Hollywood’s Roxy Theatre on Sunset Boulevard.

It would be unfair to critique David Crowder based solely on its progressive Christian message, though the exclusivity of this message must be acknowledged. With lyrics like “The sound of rescued ones / And all this for a King /”¨Angels join to sing / All for Christ our King,” there is not much chance for a nonbeliever not to be bombarded with religion.

However, if peppy, religious inspiration is your thing, you will not be disappointed with what the David Crowder Band has to offer.

For those unfamiliar with the sound of the band, it is reminiscent of a Christian Matchbox Twenty, with a strong, angsty vocal and heavy use of guitar and drums which smacks of ’90s pop rock.

While the instrumentation of the band was strong, the angst of David Crowder was slightly off-putting because of its religious subject matter.

Even when singing the words “You are my joy,” there was an underlying sadness in the front man’s tone that made the hopeful message of the song fall a little flat.

Lyrical content and stylistic choices also seemed discontinuous at times. One tune, “Church Music ““ Dance(!),” used a disco beat, pumping the wah-wah pedal like Donna Summer never dreamed, yet repeated the lyrics “Dance if you’re wounded / Dance if you’re torn into.”

Perhaps some aspect of the band’s angst is justified, however, as there is a catch to its message of salvation, and that seems to be an emphasis upon the afterlife. Thus, listeners may walk away feeling more enthused about life after death as opposed to life in the earthly realm.

The repeated idea that “rescue is coming” alluded to the Biblical promise of eventual Armageddon and the return of Christ. Nonbeliever or not, it felt strange – overly zealous, even – to celebrate and hope for the end of days.

Allusions to the Book of Revelation aside, the live musical talent of the band was evident. Each member of the six-piece ensemble held his own with the multitude of instruments the show required (everything from an Auto-Tune a la Kanye West to the good old banjo).

While there were a few technical snafus that suggested band members could improve their multitasking with instruments, they recovered from these slipups to perform each song to its fullest. The band also encouraged audience participation, and even provided song lyrics on monitors for the few in attendance who hadn’t memorized the words.

Though singing lyrics rife with cliches that conjured memories of Sunday school sing-alongs, band front man David Crowder held his own singing live and commanding the audience. Using his charming Southern appeal to its fullest advantage (he hails from Waco, Texas), Crowder came off both gracious and humbled by the crowd’s enthusiasm.

I am certain that progressive Christian rock is not my favorite genre, nor would I jump at the chance to attend another of David Crowder’s shows. However, the experience did reveal a more contemporary take on the Christian hymn, changing my perspective of what “church music” (not so coincidentally the name of the band’s newest album) can be.

In addition to being progressive, one must admire the unabashed energy David Crowder puts into his jam-packed set list. In addition to the genuine energy of the band, it was also refreshing to attend a kid-friendly concert. No one was screaming obscenities or taking off his clothes, and the closest thing to violent movement was one woman’s ecstatic arm-waving.

It must be said, though, that after two hours of blaring lighting effects and hyperemotional pleas for salvation and the end of days, I was never so happy to turn on the radio and be serenaded by T-Pain’s offer just to buy me a drank.

-Shelley Brown

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