The best band you’ve never heard of

I went to a Bebo Norman concert last night. Bebo Norman is a Christian singer/songwriter. I saw him open for Third Day a few months ago, and as good as Third Day was, Bebo kind of stole the show.
What goes around comes around. One of Bebo’s opening acts was the David Crowder Band. All I knew about them going in was they were from Waco, Texas. I didn’t expect much. But they blew me away.

David Crowder has an unusual voice. Sometimes it reminds me some of the lead singer for Toad the Wet Sprocket, if you remember them. And sometimes it reminds me of Elvis Costello. But I find I’m really reaching. It’s different enough to grab you, but not so different as to make you uncomfortable. There, how’s that?

He has an appearance that’ll grab you and might make you uncomfortable. He has really wild hair, thick eyebrows and a goatee that’s a good three inches long. He wears glasses with the thick black frames, similar to the standard military-issue glasses. Normally I’d call them unstylish, but they look fine on him.

The band is loud. Really loud. And in addition to the expected electric and acoustic guitars (lots of ’em), bass, and drum, they frequently mix in synthesizers, samples, and violin. It’s been a long time since a band has floored me with its sound, but these guys did. All of their songs could have been about motor oil and I would have bought all their records. Since I was pretty sure I heard them mention God a few times (it was hard to tell over all that double-time clapping) I had double excuse to buy all their records. So I went to their booth at intermission and bought all their records.

The current one is called “Can You Hear Us?” It’s loud. I don’t think David Crowder’s favorite Psalm is “Be still and know I am God.” But you know how a lot of bands are an angry loud, or at least an angst-y loud? DCB is a happy loud.

It starts off fairly slow and easy and segues into loud and fast. The album roughly alternates fast and slow numbers for the duration. I think there needs to be a radio station that does nothing but play it over and over. So I guess I like it, but I can’t nail down exactly why. It’s loud and quirky and uses a lot of instruments. But just as Butt-Head knew it takes more than bears to make a video cool (even though Beavis didn’t), it takes more than volume and quirks and lots of instruments to make a record cool. I don’t know what that is but they’ve got it.

One of my favorite bands of all time is The Cars, and I think part of what I liked about them was how they mixed quirkiness with really good musicianship. I wouldn’t say DCB sounds like The Cars. But they take that formula another direction.

David Crowder got his start by recruiting college students for worship services, which led to him co-founding a church called University Baptist Church in Waco, and eventually he started writing his own songs. I don’t know about using some of the songs for a church service, at least not in Mehlville and Oakville, Missouri, but I’ll listen to it when I’m not in church, that’s for certain.

And if I’m ever in Waco, I’ll check out his church to see how they make those songs work in that setting.

I just got back from a Third Day concert

I just got back from a Third Day concert and I’m dead tired. I’ll say this about Third Day: they’re amazing musicians and they’re amazing men. Mac Powell was constantly reaching down to shake hands with people in front of the stage (and he let them be right up at the stage). If he didn’t have a guitar in his hands and he wasn’t singing, he was shaking someone’s hand. And at the end of the concert, all the band members handed their instruments to their techs, hugged each other, then went and spent several minutes shaking as many hands as they could.
Third Day did a live album last year, and it’s really good–I like it better than some of their studio albums–but I don’t think that album did their live shows justice. The visuals were stunning, but seeing them at work makes a big difference. They’re four guys who’ve known each other more than 10 years, and from all indications onstage, are really good friends. They all look like guys I went to college with. They’re genuine people, doing what they enjoy doing, and they have no pretentions about them, even though they are extremely good at what they do.

And “extremely good” is an understatement. You can always tell when a band sounds too good–you’ll never duplicate the studio sound onstage. But they adapted their songs for the live show and the songs didn’t sound at all compromised. I’ve seen a lot of bands live and heard even more live recordings, and these guys are the best. The two best live shows I’ve seen were U2 and The Cure, but these guys were better, although less flambouyant.

I’ll be back later today to talk about other stuff. See you in a few hours.

Dave goes shopping.

Who do I remind myself of? My aunt and my grandmother.
I’d better explain.

One of my buddies showed up for Bible study ranting and raving about a band called Third Day. “Where have these guys been all my life?” he kept asking. “They single-handedly got me interested in contemporary Christian music!”

This, coming from a guy who’s met Frank Black (back when he was Black Francis, frontman for the Pixies) and still gets excited when he tells the story. OK, if Jon likes these guys, I’d better check them out.

So I went out last night to get a Third Day record. OK, a CD. But “record” just sounds cooler.

Meanwhile, I remembered that the department stores were all advertising Labor Day sales. Makes sense; if consumer electronics stores do it, other places probably do too. I just never paid attention before. So I looked around. I was only mildly impressed with JC Penney. I found a couple of shirts I really liked, but not in my size. I found a short-sleeved plain white dress shirt in my size for $13 that I almost bought, but if I’m going to buy shirts, I’m not just going to buy one. It’s a minor miracle that I’ve gone shopping for clothes twice this year, so I’m not going to waste the effort.

Against my better judgment, I figured, I went into Famous-Barr. It’s a more expensive place; exclusively a midwest chain if I understand correctly. I hit paydirt. I found a rack full of short-sleeved shirts marked down to $9.99. I guess someone forgot that August just ended Friday, and we’ll be seeing the high 80s for at least another week here in St. Louis. Short-sleeved weather doesn’t really go away until mid-October. These shirts will see some good use. I grabbed a tan and a grey Geoffrey Beene, and a white shirt of some other brand. They’ll see some use this fall, and come spring, they’ll all still look good. The same shirts cost $30 in May, and that was a sale price. I know, because I bought a pair of Beenes back then and they’re my favorite shirts because they’re failry dressy, but they’re almost as comfortable as t-shirts.

I need another brown belt, too, and I looked. I found a belt I liked, made in the United States. I know I shouldn’t buy things made in totalitarian countries (the States aren’t totalitarian, you say? Two words, buddy: Dmitry Sklyarov.) but that didn’t matter. The belt was too small for me. I have to say that’s the first time I’ve ever seen a belt too small for me. I found some other belts I liked, and all of them fit, but they were all made in China. I’d sooner let my pants droop than buy something made in China, so I put them back. I guess I should have asked the clerk if they had any belts not made in China, but people who do that kind of thing bug me. The clerk has no control over where the belts come from, and his bosses don’t care. So I left the store with three nice shirts. Total cost: 34 bucks.

I didn’t used to care about how I dressed–I’d wear whatever I had that was clean, and if it was black, bonus. Then one day, not quite a year ago, I went to read my daily User Friendly, and it was the strip that introduced Sid Dabster, the old-school Unix sysadmin known for wearing a tie. “Hey! He can’t be a geek! He’s wearing a tie!”

And then I remembered a conversation I had just before the last wedding I was in. I came out of the dressing room in my tux, one of the other guys in the party whistled. “You say you don’t get any respect at work? Show up dressed like that!

I’m 26, and I’ve spent my whole professional career in places where a 40-year-old is still considered a kid. You’re not an adult there until your kids are all married. So I figured, what the heck. I took off the polo shirt I’d put on that morning, grabbed my white long-sleeved dress shirt and a burgundy tie (rule #1: you can’t go wrong with black pants, a white shirt, and a tie that’s some shade of red–it’s completely unoriginal but it always looks good, unless you wad it up or sleep in it or something) and went off to work. People kept asking me where my job interview was that day. I just smiled mysteriously.

I went up to work on a pretty girl’s computer. “What are you all dressed up for?” she asked. Now, what I should have said was, “Because I figured I might see you,” but I’m not that smooth.

I continued the experiment for about a month. I noticed the things I said carried more weight. So, these days I wear a tie more often than my boss, more often than my boss’ boss, and even more often than the Director of IT. But that’s OK. They’re all older than me. In fact, since two of them have sons my age, they’re full-fledged adults.

After a month, the experiment stopped being an experiment and started being my daily routine. Good thing too. I ran into the prettiest girl from my high school class back in February or March. “You look nice,” she said, and then asked what I was doing these days.

I came back and told my cube neighbor I was glad I had the tie and trenchcoat that day, then told him all about it. He asked if I got a date. “No,” I said. ‘She’s married and has two kids.”

“Well then why are you worried about impressing her?” he asked, shooting me a really dirty look.

“You never know,” I said. “I doubt all of her friends are married.”

One of these days, I may figure out what colors look good together, but I pretty much cheat. If a set of colors is used on a tie, and the tie strikes me as looking good and not tacky, I’ll mimic that scheme with my choice of pants and shirt. Beyond that, I know navy blue and black don’t mix, and brown and black don’t mix either. But you’ll rarely, if ever, see those combinations on a tie.

Unfortunately, my pager is black. I’ll have to tell them to issue me a brown pager to wear some of the time so I can finally stop committing a major fashion faux pas several times a week.

Something tells me that request will get me a dirty look and nothing else.

WordPress Appliance - Powered by TurnKey Linux