Friday, December 09, 2011

Rachel's first Switchfoot Concert.

On Saturday, I went to see my favorite active band, Switchfoot, in concert. I was excited for this concert for the following reasons:

1. This was the first show I would be going to after the release of their new album, Vice Verses, which I believe to be their best one yet.
2. This was my first sold out Switchfoot concert.
3. This was the first time my fiancee, Rachel, experienced the awesomeness that is Switchfoot.

The concert was in Charlottesville at the Jefferson Theater. This is definitely worth mentioning as is not only Charlottesville a beautiful town, but the theater was beautiful as well. It had a large area for people to stand and rock out on the bottom level and 2 levels of balconies. It looked like an old movie theater that ripped out the theater seats.

Opening things up was Honor by August. Usually I'm not really impressed by the opening act, but Honor by August, while not being phenomenal, was very good for an opening band. I got to talk with some of the members after the show and they were very down to earth.

Now, on to the main act. Switchfoot put on an amazing show. They opened things up with "The Original", a very fun and upbeat song from the new album that definitely set the right tone for what was coming. Here's the full setlist, that included 9 songs from the new album

The Original
The War Inside
We Are One Tonight
This is Your Life
Been Caught(cover song)
Mess of Me
Dare You to Move
Vice Verses (first time live in the States)
Dark Horses
Meant to Live

After that, the crowd roared and asked for one more song. They gave us not 1, not 2, but 3.

They played Hello Hurricane, and then the perfect encore song, "Where I Belong", followed by "The Sound."

But the crowd hadn't had enough and Switchfoot came out for a second encore, performing "Needle and Haystack Life."

It was an amazing experience, not one I will soon forget.

Friday, October 07, 2011

The Best (and worst) day at the movies ... and some other stuff

Well, it's been 2 months since I wrote on the blog. A lot has happened between August 5th and now. Summer ended, fall began. Football season returned with the Redskins at 3-1. It's been quite a month musically. 4, count them, 4, of my favorite bands released new albums

NeedtoBreathe - The Reckoning, a very good album, but not quite as good as their previous work

Gungor - Ghosts upon the Earth

Mute Math - Odd Soul

and finally, Switchfoot, in their best ever album, Vice Verses. Yes, I think it's better than The Beautiful Letdown and Hello Hurricane. Easily, easily has the best album ending song that they've ever made.

Anyway, moving on to why I'm really here. A very interesting thing happened this past summer when I went to go see a movie. Not just any movie, but my pick for the best movie of the year so far, "The Tree of Life". I had been waiting and waiting for this movie to come out for some time due to the buzz that the movie was getting ever since it won the Palme D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival. It finally arrived at the Naro this past summer and I decided to go see it with a good friend of mine.

We went in and the theater was not jam packed, but it had a considerable number of people. My friend and I sat down and after the first few minutes we both knew this wasn't going to be just any movie. It was going to be a very memorable movie The Tree of Life beautifully illustrates how life seldom gives us straight answers and when we look up at the sky and ask God why, He rarely gives answers us directly. In the case of the film, God and the director, Terrence Malick, answers in the most appropriate way, by showing us. There is very little dialogue at the beginning and end of the film, but in the middle is where we get to see the main character fleshed out and his ongoing struggle with nature vs. grace, most embodied with the struggle of the death of his brother, which we are made aware of at the beginning of the film. How the story plays out, I am not here to say, but it is one of beauty, grace, elegance, and meditation. Malick doesn't use a conventional narrative and it works. Instead, the audience is left to ponder the far reaches of what is possible and glimpse at the beauty of what lies beyond.

The Tree of Life sparked a discussion between me and my friend. One that only a great movie does. Once we were back at his apartment, I came to find out that some friends of his were watching "Battle: Los Angeles" upstairs. So I settled in and watched a little bit because several of the poeple watching the movie were also my friends. Now, I already knew the reputation of this film and so I wasn't expecting much. What ended up happening though, is I had the singular worst experience watching a movie this entire year and I only watched about 45 minutes of the movie. The following are some quotes that my friend and I have since said about the film.

"I never thought 45 minutes could feel like an eternity."
"You start cheering for the aliens just so the movie will end."
"A mind numbing, cliche-ridden experience."

The dialogue in the film was horrible. When they weren't screaming commands at each other, most of the conversations were just filler between the predictable, messy action sequences. I don't mind action movies or alien invasion movies. I do mind when they're bad.

This experience of seeing the best and worst films of the year in the same day I won't soon forget. The friend I went with summed it up best when he said, "You know a film is great when even after seeing a film as bad as Battle: Los Angeles, you still remember the greater film."

Friday, August 05, 2011

Switchfoot - Vice Verses Listening Session (Mobile Version)

Switchfoot Listening Session

I'm Engaged!

For those of you haven't heard, I am engaged. I proposed on the evening of July 24th to my now fiancee, Rachel, at the Lions' Bridge. I've been dating Rachel since last August and I had no doubt in my mind she was the one I wanted to marry. For those of you who have been praying for me and also those who have left e-mails, facebook messages, phone calls, etc, you have my sincere thanks. I'm looking forward to what the future has in store for the 2 of us.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Praising God is crazy when you think about it

At first glance, worshiping God through music may not seem crazy. As a Christian, it's what we do. If you go to church it's normal. The team of worship leaders get up and the congregation sings along to a power point slide, a hymnal, or, if you're really old-school, an overhead projector. Whatever the case may be, most Christians don't think praising God on a Sunday or even during the week, for that matter, is unusual. I would agree that for a Christian, it shouldn't be unusual, but let's stop and think about what is actually going on when we sing to Him.

When Christians sing to God, it's first and foremost an act of worship.  It's not merely spouting off words to a tune.  It's surrender.  It's an expression of thanks.  Ultimately, singing to God is an act of giving glory back to Himself and to the born again believer, this is the best thing since sliced bread.  But praising God is odd to anyone else because it requires the denial of yourself as the ultimate receiver of glory.  It requires trading your own ambition, desires, and goals for those of God.

I love to sing to God.  It's one of the greatest joys I have as a believer.  I love to lift my hands and jump and down in the joy I have in Him.  Still, some think it's weird that I do that.  In response, I have a question:  do you jump up and down and lift your hands at rock concerts?  If so, why do you do that?  It's because you enjoy the music and are expressing your satisfaction in it, right?  Or maybe you really like the band?

Then why is it when you come to worship the God of the universe, the very being who wove you together in your mother's womb, numbered the stars and knows them by name, breathed life into man, and died for you so that you could be reconciled to him, you stand like a stick in the mud and have about as much energy as a cardboard cutout.  We serve a mighty God, who despite his incomprehensibly vast amount of power and glory, loved you so much that He hung on a cross for you.  That's something worth dancing up and down the aisles about!  I still wonder why in certain Christian circles, there's this atmosphere of limitation in one's expression of worship.  Myself, I have no problem dancing, lifting my hands, falling on my face, and basically just being real before God.  What I'm not saying is that every Christian should go dancing down the aisles.  What I am saying though is that if you're a Christian, there's a reason to go crazy for Jesus and Jesus deserves more than just cattle in a sanctuary.

2 Corinthians 5:13-15 is one of my favorite passages in the entire bible because it explains to unbelievers why Christians go crazy for Jesus, while giving a summary of the gospel itself.  Here's what it says:

If we are “out of our mind,” as some say, it is for God; if we are in our right mind, it is for you. 14 For Christ’s love compels us, because we are convinced that one died for all, and therefore all died. 15 And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died for them and was raised again.

Think about what this is saying.  "Christ's love compels us."  In other words, we should want to go crazy for God.  What's even crazier is that we no longer live for ourselves, and we're okay with it!  In a world that is totally consumed with the idea of satisfying the self, this is a radical notion.  But a true believer, being transformed by Christ, desires more than anything to live for Christ, who died and was raised again.

So Christians, let's start acting like it!  Let's go before God not just in singing to him, but in all areas of our life, with a joyful and grateful heart, giving thanks and adoration to Him who sits on the throne of grace.