I took off to Birmingham, AL tonight to catch a show on Jars of Clay's current tour. They are going to headline Creation Festival: The Tour, which I am Production Managing, in the fall and I wanted to observe them do their thing to generate ideas as to how myself and our production staff might best serve the Jars of Clay folks in the fall. I came out with some ideas, which I expected. What I didn't expect was to come out pondering how lame Christians can be when it comes to music.
I haven't been able to put down this new Jars of Clay record since, um, well . . . since before it was released. Top to bottom I love the message, lyrics, arrangements, textures, hooks, and most of all the intentionality of the art that I hear in Jars' latest effort. There are subtle nuances to this record that keep me coming back for more.
And then somewhere along the way tonight I started to think that the artistic element of what these guys do is lost on all but a small sector of the Christian Music Market, and let's face it a small sector of the Christian Music Market is REALLY small. Luckily, they are skilled at writing catchy hooks that play well to radio - but why, oh why is the Christian music consumer so overwhelmingly simple in their tastes? I would think an audience that acknowledges and seeks deep spiritual growth and connection with God would latch on to someone really digging into those conflicts of who we are growing to be and all that happens along that road - particularly if it entails a level of artistic merit that only serves to focus and intensify the experience. But I just feel like people miss it, and it's an absolute shame.
On a moderately separate note, there was a kid standing on the floor a few feet in front of the stage tonight that totally reminded me of myself in high school. He was a little taller than I would have been but other than that he had it all: black Chuck Taylors; bowl-style haircut; awkward sense of self-consciousness about how much he enjoyed the music; the occasional dance move that stopped abruptly when he realized what just happened;clapping when told to; jumping when told to but never too high; and of course standing at the foot of the stage when all was said and done and looking for that last little bit of connection to what just happened. I think he got it though. I think he connected to more than a beat to resist dancing to. He payed attention - he knew the words without a video screen. This kid might have a future around music, who knows. Or maybe in 13-15 years he will just be another jaded blogger. Anything is possible.