One of the real highlights of the weekend for me was meeting the band London Calling. I'd never heard of the group before. Jamie Rowe, the lead singer, said at the beginning, "We're London Calling. You don't know us, but we don't know you either!" They played a lot of rock & roll in a style like All Star United and classic rock. During the first minute that they played, I didn't care for what I heard, but I quickly warmed up to their sound. When the singer mentioned that he had co-written Toby's "Extreme Days" song, I recognized him from an interview with CMCentral back in early 2001. He used to be in Guardian, he said, and the other members of the band used to be in The Frantics. He said to the (sparse) crowd that London Calling was more in the style of Lifehouse and Creed, apparently meaning that they are mainstream-oriented. My sister said to me, after a few songs, "Do they have any songs about God?" Perhaps that's also why Jamie said that, in case any of the audience wondered the same thing.
Anyway, Jamie said that they had signed with Gotee (did I hear that right?) and they'd be putting out an album in March next year, but that after the show, they'd be selling a CD of theirs for ten dollars at a booth outside. (It turned out to be at the autograph booth.) Jamie said that it would be a good way for us to get rid of those pesky ten dollar bills. My sister said that she wanted to buy their CD, so we went out to the merch tables and eventually found our way to the autograph table where around 10 people were waiting in line to meet London Calling. I got out my camera to take a photo from behind the rope, and when one of the guitarists saw me, he had the two other guitarists (the drummer was over to the side getting a CD to a paying customer) pose at the table with him for the pic, which I thought was really cool and nice. I think Jamie mentioned to my sister that they were going on a Stryper reunion tour, but she wasn't sure if he was kidding or not! They signed her CD and we went back to our seats. Anyway, London Calling put on a solid rock & roll show, so check them out.
Well, that was basically it for my concert experience at "Spirit Song 2003." I had a blast and hope to go next year, too. Next time I'll make sure to bring a camera with a telescopic lens thingie, and also to get in line at the autograph tables and get the stars to sign my stuff.
By the way, here's another thing that I liked about Cincinnati. They seemed to have a couple Christian music FM radio stations playing music all the time. Here in my area, we only have one Christian FM music station and it usually has a lot of talking on it. But my sister was playing the radio in her car in Cinci and the Christian station would always be playing music. I heard songs by dc Talk, Newsboys, FFH, Third Day, and ZOEgirl just in her car over the weekend, when we went from her house to King's Island. On the ride back home, I heard Phil Joel and Delirious on the radio, just while turning channels in my friend's car. That probably wouldn't happen in my area. Plus, the Christian music station in Cinci sounded just like a secular pop radio station would -- so I would suspect that a lot of non-Christians are also tuning in.
Another thing I thought of at the concert: We hear so much about Christian artists like these, at Christian events, simply "preaching to the choir" and not evangelizing the right people, that they should be out there "reaching the lost" instead. Well, when I looked around me at the concert, I wouldn't have been able to tell for sure who was truly a Christian or not. The audience seemed to be dressed just like anybody else in any other crowd would be, except for the shirts bearing a Christian message or an artist's logo.
I think there must have been a lot of people there who really do need to hear a message challenging them to take their faith more seriously, to actually "live the life" (as MWS sang), to actually be practicing Christians rather than simply self-identified Christians. That's a message that is not going to be listened to by a non-Christian audience (who would probably boo the singer off the stage). But at least the message stands a chance of reaching the people who attended the Christian concert.
Because we all know people who are Christians and yet who don't seem to be much different from non-believers. There are regular church-going Christians who think nothing of using profanity, of filling their minds with nasty trash, who place themselves in situations that makes it easier to be tempted into sinning, etc. All of us need that message, to be challenged to be better Christians, to be worthy of the holy label that we describe ourselves with. I don't feel that good work of supposedly "preaching to the choir" is wasted or unnecessary -- I think it's much-needed. I'm glad we have this so-called "subculture," to encourage those who want to be more Christ-like, to bring Christians out into the open in amusement parks like King's Island, to praise & worship out in the open in a secular venue and not just confined behind church doors once a week.
People can argue semantics, play games with words to cut down artists or genres that they don't like. I thank God for this "subculture." I thank God that it exists, so that any open-minded sincerely-seeking non-believer can be welcomed into our tent and hear our music and message. And also that even people who attend church like a weekly ritual can come to a greater understanding of why they are there, and be challenged to be better Christians, and make worship, and a desire to pursue holiness, a more constant element in their lives.