22 May 2004

Jesus Freak

This entry begins way back in the early nineties. I had cut-off jean shorts, a bunch of POGs, and a crush on a girl named Sarah Bush. Everyday was another new feeling. In ’92 or ’93 I attended my very first rock concert ever: DC Talk on their Free at Last Tour, New Mexico State University. I was real stoked about going except that me and my sister Martha had to go with our dumb parents, even though my brother got to go with the youth group. This injustice was right up there with him getting to see “Jurassic Park” while I just got to collect those dumb McDonalds cups with dinosaur pictures.

The concert was fabulous. Everybody stood through the whole thing expect my dumb parents who sat with their earplugs in and looked annoyed. DC Talk was doing the whole “my band is my ministry” thing so they talked for quite a long time about Jesus. I remember feeling vindicated as my parents had to admit there was something redeeming in the whole spectacle. This was all around the time Amy Grant’s “Heart in Motion”/”House of Love” came out (I had “House of Love” thank-you very much) so people were talking about Christian music finally getting to be big with the non-Christians. The lead singer of the DC Talk, one "Tobymac", said (and I remember this very clearly), “People been asking me, ‘Toby, when’s DC Talk going to cross-over?’ and I tell them, ‘DC Talk isn’t crossing-over unless we can cross-over with the cross.’” This was met with the wild cheers of the largely Christian audience, and though I don’t think it ever really materialized, I remember thinking that would be great.

I later saw DC talk again on the “Jesus Freak” tour without my parents and ended up much closer to the stage. I remember it was wonderful.

For both of these tours, a band called “Audio Adrenaline” opened the show. I was riding my scooter home from the city tonight, and I suddenly remembered a song they sang about public schools being a mission field for young Christians. The line I remembered went something like “They pay to put you in the classes/ it’s your chance to reach the masses." This song was on the “Don’t Censor Me” album, but now as I think about it, I’m not really sure why Audio Adrenaline was afraid of being censored.

As a side note, this was also the time that my brother and sister and I were really into Michael Jackson. “Free Willy” had just come out and we loved that song. It was an anthem, again as I remember it.

I never did end up going out with Sarah Bush or actually talking to her for that matter. I wonder if she still has all that hair and is still single…

Anyway, so tonight I was out in downtown Fukuoka, just keeping it real and ended up in a park where about 5 different bands, from a couple guys with acoustic guitars to a whole band with a PA and everything, had set up and were making music. I stood around and watched the band with the PA for a little while because they were the loudest. They had a guy playing the bass, someone on the djembe, a singer/ acoustic guitar player, and a guy playing lead guitar. It was like Japanese *Nsync with guitars. I wanted to offer them a little bit of advice, not that I’m an expert on the musical whatnot, but I’ve been in several bands with varying degrees of marginal success and maybe I can help them out:

1. Don’t pay more than $20.00 (¥2000) for a haircut. Frankly, I can’t think of anyone who plays a guitar who should pay more than $20 for a haircut. Additionally, don’t dye your hair blonde if you’re Japanese. God made it black for a reason, man.

2. You can’t, CAN’T rock a solo on a Fender 15 watt practice amp. And no, your hip gyrations aren’t helping. You too, Mr. Knock-off Rickenbacker Bass.

3. Though I can totally respect playing in the park (heck, my band once played praise music at a Lutheran pastor's convention for $50), maybe you shouldn’t pretend you’re playing a club. It’s the park, man. Unplug and get rid of the hands-free microphone

4. Don’t berate the crowd into standing closer to you or worse yet, sitting on the “orangee sheeto” (read tarp) you’ve brought for people to sit on.

5. The English chorus isn’t working for anyone. The people that can understand it think it’s ridiculous and the people that can’t, well, can’t.

6. Don’t hand out flyers saying you’ll be in the park next week. That’s pathetic.

But the best thing is how many times I saw this tonight: a guy playing the guitar (maybe 17 years old) and a girl standing about 10 yards away, singing along and blushing. Because in Japan you don’t get to see that kind of public affection or adoration often. And though the music sucks and it’s got no soul, some kid picked up a guitar and wrote about how much he likes some girl. That’s what rock and rolls really all about, I think. So keep on truckin’ Japanese rock band. I believe in you.