From Weird Al to America to Hawk Nelson

I saw this news story today. One show of the new TobyMac tour had to be cancelled. One friend asked me if it means declining popularity for Toby. I say no. I saw this show and it was packed. So I think it was the time of year and that area's weather. But also, ummm, maybe the problem was that they booked a Christian concert at a MOSQUE?

Anyway, that leads well into my latest Top 30 list to commemorate my 30th birthday in a few months. After seeing the TobyMac/Family Force 5/Hawk Nelson show last week, I thought I'd come up with my Top 30 Concert Moments. Here they are:

30. The Brick Suit. I will admit it: I went to a Chumbawamba concert. Yes, I did. And before you judge: They know how to entertain. They put on a great concert. They used a lot of costume changes and props--which is always a plus in my book. The best part was this one guy who came out in a suit that was printed like a brick wall. It was neato.

29. Sandman Drum Solo. When I was in high school I saw classic rock group America at the State Fair. I loved their set. On the song Sandman, they broke down to a really awesome drum solo that made me want to play the drums. Sure, I played them badly. But I played them.

28. Is that him? I've been to 3 or 4 Weird Al Yankovich concerts. And I am mucho proud of that fact. At one, my friend Eric and I were in the stands about an hour or more early. (We were THAT excited.) In one section of the stands there was this guy in a ballcap just sitting there alone. No one was around him AT ALL. Well, Eric and I kept commenting about how much the guy looked like Al. And then, a crowd all of a sudden started forming around him--and that's when we realized that Al goes into the seats before his shows and waits for people to notice him and signs autographs. It was a neat thing for a legend* like him to do.
*Really. Legend. Who else sings about the Amish?

27. Kevin Max's Arrogance. At one Cornerstone, former DC Talk member Kevin Max came out on stage in a purple robe, struted to the end of the long catwalk into the crowd and arrogantly handed the robe to a beautiful assistant. What made this a memorable moment was the instant exodus of people streaming from the concert. Hilarious.

26. Weird Al's costumes. In concert, the guy changes clothes about a gazillion times. He wears the pointy Madonna bra. He wears the fat suit. It's amazing and very entertaining. What adds to it is... Weird Al's incredible energy. It is shocking how crazy this man is. He puts one leg behind his head--and bounces around on the other leg. Let's see Elton John do that.

25. Hawk's Vests. At a Hawk Nelson show a couple years ago, the guys came out in pink sweater vests--and it's become a legend of fashion among my friends.

24. A Classic Backflip. Classic Crime seered itself into my mind because of a lead singer who does backflips. That is rock, man. That is rock.

23. A Chick Who Rocks. I remember first getting the CD of Benjamin Gate and being blwn away by their sound. When I saw them live, the very first song blew my mind because lead Singer Adrienne just went berserko. This little lady jumped and headbanged and threw everything she had into it. It was love at first sight...but then Jeremy Camp stole her from Benjamin Gate and me.

22. Emo Moment. I'd never really known what emo punk was before I discovered Further Seems Forever. I discovered them at about 2 a.m. at one year of Cornerstone. Jason was the lead singer then. And I walked up as he was hanging from a tent pole into the audience. The best way to describe it is to say he was emoting. Just completely and passionately leaning into his fans, belting his heart out, and singing--not to them, but with them. I saw the punk part the next day when Jason was late for a press conference because a 6-inch gash in his leg from a concert weeks before that he never had looked at was acting up.

21. Stryper. Really, that should be enough of a grand concert moment. I saw Stryper. But during the show, the guys passed out tiny Bibles to the crowd. They used to throw Bibles into the crowd at shows but now they just hand them to the first few rows to avoid injury and lawsuits no doubt. A slightly less-fortunate moment at that show was when the drummer, Robert Sweet, came onstage in the old yellow and black spandex just like they used to wear in the 80s. The only difference is that Robert is 20 years older.

20. Mosh With Love. At a punk concert a long time ago I saw my first Christian mosh pit. I loved that these guys would beat the heck out of each other...and then congratulate each other and hug. Beautiful.

19. Flags. Upon seeing all the different flags being held by their audience, Flatfoot 56 welcomed all the "Americans, Canadians, Chicagoans...and Pirates."

18. Toby Mac's Choreography. The best moment of any TobyMac show is when he and his two dancers/backup singers/acrobats join him to do some sweet dance moves. My favorite part is when they do a slow step walk toward the audience as they sing, "I'm a dead man walking..."

17. The Hill of Hands. The main stage at Cornerstone is set in a big natural bowl of a hill. At my first fest, Third Day led everyone in worship and everyone held hands and raised them high into the night. From down near the stage, I looked up to see just a massive sea of raised hands--and a ring of held hands around the hill's upper rim. This single show sold my on Christian music.

16. The Baby Powder. There was a hazy fog at my first Flatfoot 56 concert. Why? The band began a new "campaign on chaffing" by being well-supplied with baby powder.

15. The Solo Concert. One year, Third Day came to the area and no one else could go to the show. So I went by myself. I got a seat up in the rafters and just sat back and enjoyed. At the end of the set, they went into a worship set and I was so taken away in worship. It was a memorable experience as God met me there.

14. Buffalo Matt Theissen. At the first Relient K concert I went to, the band put a big plastic buffalo out on the catwalk in front of the stage. During the show, singer Matt Theissen rode it. And then surfed it through the crowd.

13. My First Vision of Family Force 5. Two years ago at the Gospel Music Week in Nashville, I went to the Gotee Records New Artist night. And my life would never be the same. All week, there'd been a buzz about Family Force 5--but I had no idea what to expect. Then, the band came out and completely tore the roof off the small club. I remember that I was most taken by Xanadu, the guy who is not in the band but just dances and hands instruments to the FF5 guys. Shake your tailfeather.

12. The End of Staple. This Summer I saw my final Staple concert at Cornerstone. They were amazing. I was close to the stage as they passionately played they set and said goodbye. The ultimate moment was when a guy from Cornerstone came up and said a prayer for the band as they now go on to new things. It was moving and powerful.

11. Jukebox of the Dead. My high school friend John had been trying for years to get me into this band of Wheaton College alums called the Deatholz. One Halloween, I finally listened and went to their Halloween show where they announced they appeared in zombie costumes and announced that "The Deathholz could not make it but we are The Jukebox of the Dead!" They played crazy versions of well know songs like Ring of Fire and Thriller. It was great.

10. Ouch. During a Cornerstone MxPx concert, Tom and Mike stood at opposite sides of the stage and threw their guitars high into the air to each other. They do it at every concert. But at this one, Tom's guitar smacked Mike in the head. Yowsers.

9. Puppet Show. On the Thrive Tour, The Newsboys had a projected video of a puppet show they'd play during the song John Woo. It featured a puppet of a dog and a puppet of a cat rocking out to the song. It could be the single funniest video I've ever seen.

8. "I'm Not Washing These Pants." At the MuteMath show, the lead singer left the stage to walk through the crowd. As he did, I looked back to see that he was standing right next to my friends Marc, Emily and Charissa. He even touched Charissa's leg as he leapt a wall and worked his way through the audience. Charissa hasn't washed those pants since. Ewww.

7. MC Hammer's Sound Check. In 1998, I went to my first Cornerstone and MC Hammer was playing the main stage one night. He only played his gospel stuff and not his "Hammer Don't Hurt Them" stuff. But I happened to be down by the main stage playing frisbee that afternoon while Hammer was doing his sound check. And he did "Too Legit." Oh yah.

6. Ouch II. At one concert, this young girl in front of me stood up on her boyfriend's shoulders to stage dive. The problem was that she dove forward instead of backward. Why's this a problem? Because she dove toward the backs of people's heads. They had no idea she was coming...and she fell flat to the floor. Surprisingly, she was fine. Perhaps not mentally.

5. Mosh Policing with Kutless. Every April, I go to Nashville's Gospel Music Week. One year, I went to this little basement club to see my favorite band at the time, Staple, play a show. I was toward the front of the crowd and a mosh pit started. I'm not into that so I stood on the outside edge of the craziness. I noticed behind me a scared mother and two little girls. And yet the craziness continued and the guys kept pushing into the crowd. To keep the moshing contained to a small area, I stood my ground and with two guys next to me maintained the border so that the people behind us wouldn't get trampled. After a minute or tow, I looked up to realize that the other tow guys standing on the edge pushing back the moshers were the guitarist and bassist for Kutless.

4. The unKeyboardist. The greatest moment of seeing Emery was to watch their keyboardist who does not play the keyboard. He just rocks against it repeatedly. And beats it. And yells. It takes something special to play the keyboard. It takes something more NOT to. Here's to you!

3. The Braveheart. At the very first Flatfoot 56 concert I saw, the crowd was rowdy. And the band got them rowdier. At one point, Flatfoot asked the crowd to split down the middle. The lead singer then instructed the fans to "face the crowd on the other side and pick one person out to run at. When I say, run at them and slam into them...with Christian love."

2. Mute Math's Destruction. Just recently I saw Mute Math at the Park West. They ended the show by breaking into a percussion frenzy of playing everything. Including stools. As they finished, they tore everything up--breaking lights and, for one guy, even producing blood. It was rad.

1. Pinata Surprise. At Cornerstone many years ago, Five Iron Frenzy sent 7 pinatas into the crowd. As they were being surfed around, the lead singer informed the crowd that 4 will filled with candy. 3 with Pork & Beans. One by one, the pinatas were swallowed into the crowd and you'd hear fists whacking on them and then...either joyous yells or disgusted groans as baked beans flew everywhere.

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