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.