Saturday, October 22, 2011

The David Crowder Band Bids Adieu

VIDEO0065 a video by gkhamilton on Flickr.

Hit the “Play” arrow above for a video of the David Crowder Band launching into one of their sing-a-long anthems, “There Is No One Like You,” last week at the Crystal Ballroom.

The era of the David Crowder Band is sadly coming to an end. Tickets sold out early for last week’s final Portland appearance of the DC*B at the Crystal Ballroom. After weeks of hunting down (and bribing friends for) seats for the gig, Kathy and I scored a couple tickets from a top secret source just hours before show time.

DSC_0172.JPG At the 11th hour, I booked our first ever babysitter (my mom, who had volunteered to be on standby for that night in the unlikely event that I actually got tickets) to take care of Baby Lena into the wee hours of the next morning. I gave Grandma Hamilton the over-protective new dad instructions about Lena’s feeding schedule, proper fire extinguisher handling, etc., before hopping into the Jeep with Kathy and cruising towards downtown Portland.

IMAG1275.jpgA brief snag outside the door of the Crystal Ballroom kept us outside as Chris August (or was it John Mark McMillan?) opened with an acoustic set of his smooth, radio friendly folk-pop. We caught the last couple of songs.

IMAG1282.jpg As anticipated, it was the three piece Gungor band who stole the opening show with a sampling of their unusual approach to musical experimentation and song structure. I was pleased that their unconventional musical style (complete with frequent instrument swaps and flourishes of Sufjan Stevens) wasn’t watered down for the Top 40 loving crowd.

“What was up with that Michael Gungor guy?,” David Crowder later mused to the fans. “Did he have musical instruments coming out of his mouth?”

From the opening crescendo of “The Earth is Yours” to the closing beatbox outro of “Beautiful Things” [click the “Play” arrow above for a video clip], Gungor experimented with a little of everything. Even the band’s beautiful (and decidedly weirder) new material translated well to a live setting.

IMAG1283.jpg David Crowder finally took the stage for an introspective solo piano rendering of “SMS (Shine).” As the rest of the DC*B began to appear, the gentle melody gradually swelled into a wall of sound that became “Alleluia, Sing.” The rowdy crowd sing along, “There is No One Like You” [See the video clip at the top of this BlogSpot post] typically saved for the final stretch of any DC*B show, set the tone for the rest of the night.

For the next two hours, the DC*B brought a sense of genuine spontaneity to their classics, new material, and even a couple of yet unreleased album cuts.
IMAG1296.jpg The most memorable unscripted moment (pictured above) was David Crowder interrupting the band's performance of “You Are My Joy” to address a fan who was waving a sign that asked if he could play guitar on “Everything Glorious.” After some lighthearted mocking (“Y’all are bringing signs now? You’re making me feel like Justin Bieber.”), Crowder invited the guy onstage, handed his guitar over to him, and obliged him with a lifetime of bragging rights.

Crowd pleasing silliness like the “hoedown” segment [click the “Play” arrow above for a video clip] showcased the DC*B’s versatility and provided yet another layer to their unique, worshipful mishmash of rock guitars, violin, synths, and DJ-style record scratching.

Other than the trucker hat that unfortunately concealed David Crowder’s trademark frizz-fro hairdo, the main departure from past DC*B shows was the level of chattiness from Crowder himself. I mean, the man talked. A lot. And rather than being preachy (which he rarely is anyway, aside from passionate pleas for social action), most of his stream of consciousness banter flowed from a heart filled with love for God, gratefulness for us DC*B fans, and bittersweet sentimentality towards his soon-to-be-former bandmates.

DSC_0219.JPGSporting my DC*B fan t-shirt during a recent EPIC Wednesday night session (with Kathy and Lena)

Earlier in the show, Crowder had hilariously feigned offence when his guitar player justifiably heckled him for a forgettable, cringe-worthy joke.

Crowder’s wry comeback, “No wonder we’re breaking up,” drew a startling amount of boos and jeers from the fans.

“Whoa. Two songs into it, and the crowd is already turning on us,” Crowder reeled. “Too soon?”

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