Archive for the “Concerts” Category

They Might Be Giants

On Saturday night I went to see They Might Be Giants perform live at The Pageant. The show (my 4th) was absolutely awesome. The setlist (available at This Might Be A Wiki) naturally included a large selection of songs (9 in all) from their new album, The Else, but it also included 4 fan favorites from Flood, and 2 each from Apollo 18 and The Spine. Particular highlights included…

  • Opening with “I’m Impressed”
  • “The Shadow Government”
  • “The Cap’m”
  • “Spider”
  • “The Guitar”
  • “Birdhouse In Your Soul”
  • “Particle Man”
  • “Istanbul (Not Constantinople)” with an amazing opening guitar solo
  • “Damn Good Times” as the final song

Even the opening band, Oppenheimer was good. Their music was enjoyable, and they did a really good job warming up the crowd.

Oh, lastly, I wore my <GEEK> shirt from ThinkGeek and got two compliments… albeit from other guys.

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John & John

In the latest TMBG e-newsletter, I noticed that they have a show scheduled in STL on May 6th at the Pageant. Anyone want to go with me?

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On Saturday, July 2nd, I joined several other men from my church and met at the home of one of our elders to receive a lesson in home-brewing. Yes, one of the elders at my church has taken up the hobby of home-brewing and now is passing on the knowledge he has gained as an occasion for fellowship. How cool is that? I’ve been intrigued by home-brewing ever since that time Jed brewed a batch of beer in his dorm room and I helped bottle it. Of course, I went into this knowing that I have yet to taste a beer that I like. However, one, I’ve been told its an acquired taste, and two, there are other things one can brew beside beer. Part of the afternoon was a beer tasting, and sure enough, I didn’t like any of them. Nevertheless, I had a lot of fun learning about the ins and outs of home-brewing, and maybe one day I’ll try fermenting something—other than grain, that is.

On a related note, I later had a little revelation that may make sense of my continued dislike of beer. I’m starting to think that I might be a supertaster, because that would make complete sense out of my finicky eating habits. I don’t like coffee, beer, and grapefruit. What are three things that are too bitter for supertasters? Coffee, beer, and grapefruit. How many times have I listened to “John Lee Supertaster” by They Might Be Giants, and this is just now clicking in my head? (22 according to iTunes.) Now, I’ve read that supertasters also aren’t so fond of green vegetables, which I’m mostly okay with, so I’m not 100% positive about my informal diagnosis yet. I guess I’ll have to track down some 6-n-propylthiouracil and get the final word.

On Sunday, July 3rd, I of course went to church, and afterward I ran into James and Jess, who were also interested in heading over to Fair St. Louis to see the Switchfoot concert under the Arch and the river-front fireworks. I ran home to get changed into some shorts and sneakers and to get some lunch, then they picked me up and we headed downtown. Although the afternoon was hot and there wasn’t much to do while waiting for the scheduled events, it was worth getting there early to see the air-show and get a good spot on the Arch-grounds. Some other people from church showed up before the concert and through cellphones we managed to get them over to the choice spot we had staked out. Switchfoot rocked the crowd, although I can’t say they were better than They Might Be Giants or Five Iron Frenzy. Immediately following the concert was the fireworks show, which led off with a stunt plane shooting off fireworks over the river before the traditional fireworks shot off from a river barge.

After all the festivities were done and the crowd began to clear, I noted a sort of Tragedy of the Commons—trash everywhere. I dutifully carried my trash to one of the multitude of trash cans along the main paths, but most people seemed content to simply drop empty cups and wrappers on the ground for Fair volunteers to pick up sometime before the next day’s events. As if I needed another sign that humanity is depraved.

Anyway, I went to the Fair expecting a good time—which was indeed had—but I never expected to walk away a millionaire. As James, Jess, & I walked through the streets towards the car, a group of youths standing on the side of the sidewalk made eye contact with us and extended towards us pieces of paper in their hands. Lo and behold they were giving out million dollar bills! Or not. No, they were merely religious tracts “cleverly” disguised as counterfeit million dollar bills.

The million dollar question: Will you go to Heaven? A quick test. Have you ever told a lie, stolen anything, or used God’s name in vain? Jesus, said, “Whoever looks upon a woman to lust after her has committed adultery already with her in his heart.” Have you looked with lust? Will you be guilty on Judgement Day? If you have done those things God sees you as a lying, thieving, blasphemous, adulterer at heart. The Bible warns that you will end up in Hell. That’s not God’s will. He sent His Son to suffer and die on the cross for you. Jesus took your punishment upon Himself-“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then he rose from the dead and defeated death. Please repent (turn from sin) today and trust in Jesus, and God will grant you everlasting life. The read your Bible daily and obey it.

As I continued to walk, examining this evangelistic gimmick and having not even exchanged a single word with the young man who handed it to me, it struck me. What bothers me about this is that it is Christian spam. Someone convinces these kids to stand out on a street corner after a large event and hand out as many of these things as possible with the hopes that just a few will read the message crammed into the back border area of this fake bill and say, “Gee, I never realized this before. I’ll give my life to Jesus right now and read my Bible every day.” Does it work? Well, enough people respond to emails about porn, prescription meds, and widows in Nigeria to keep email spam going, so I’m guessing they get a few takers. Quick, clean, simple. No need to know the person or invest in a relationship. Just trick people into reading a “Gospel presentation”, get them converted, and the job is done.

I find this approach to be highly inadequate. There’s no follow up. There’s no discipleship. The tract doesn’t mention anything about going to a church and becoming part of a fellowship of Christians, who can challenge and love one another. Instead, the tract advocates an individualistic religion—a religion of just “me and Jesus”—that does not capture the fulness of the Gospel.

And then a few blocks later we passed a tent city. I vaguely recalled from a news report that I caught bits and pieces of as I was getting ready to go out one day that a bunch of homeless people were camping out somewhere downtown in protest of something. Well, there it was, just a few blocks away from my brothers and sisters with the tracts. I had to wonder. Did they give out any tracts to the camped out homeless people? Wouldn’t giving “million dollar bill” tracts to homeless people be kind of cruel in a way?

Unfortunately, I don’t have the perfect answer. I’m still learning what it means to evangelize, to love, and to have mercy. I can’t give anyone a 10 step evangelism program. And if anyone claims to have a 10 step evangelism program, I think it’d be best to run the other way. I don’t think evangelism is so simple and well-defined. Although the Great Commission is only one sentence long, it’s complex, involved, and time-consuming in its application.

Perhaps searching for concrete, well-defined answers is what makes these tracts look like a good idea. You can quantify it and think that you did some real good. “I handed out 200 tracts today. I touched 200 lives with the Gospel.” It sounds impressive and pious, but it doesn’t really capture the fullness of the Great Commission.

Anyway, theological musing aside, they say the first million is the hardest, so I guess it won’t be long before James, Jess, and I are being chauffeured in our limos to the airport where our private jets can fly us off to our mansions in the Hamptons. (Although, if I ever actually somehow become a millionaire and I buy a limo, a private jet, and a mansion in the Hamptons, someone out there better beat the ever-loving snot out of me.)

On Monday, July 4th, I slept in, having been quite tired from the fullness of the previous day. My only plans that day were to go to a Library staff party at the home of our serials coordinator, Joanna. I and the rest of the staff gathered for a fine cookout—though the cooking was the only thing going on outside. Being St. Louis, it was a little too warm outside, and we all stayed inside to chat. And there was much chatting—so much so that we lost track of time and completely missed the Kirkwood fireworks that we had intended to go see. Oh well.

Finally, for those of you who aren’t regular hr viewers: Relevancy Link

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[Background: My evil plan to get a life]

Thus it begins. Last year’s plan to provide myself with prime dating opportunities by purchasing series tickets to the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra was mildly successful, so I had decided to give it another shot this year. Over the summer, I finally settled on the Friday B series, and bought the tickets. The first concert was last night. (Or should that be two nights ago, since it is now the wee hours of Sunday?) Anyway, this year started out quite similarly to last year in that I didn’t have a date, despite my acquisition of a spiffy new suit (for preaching and leading worship too). Of course, I guess I didn’t try all that hard. After all, I’m not one to just randomly ask girls out, and to make matters worse, it seems that all my channels for getting acquainted with eligible, young, symphony-appreciating bachelorettes have pretty much run dry. Perhaps it’s a good thing that I only have two of the six concerts in the fall, and the rest in the spring. Perhaps by springtime—when it can be sung…

The joyous face of Spring is revealed to the world.
Winter’s army is vanquished and routed;
In dapple and colored dress is Flora arrayed,
And the woods sweetly resound
With birdsongs in her praise.

Reclining in Flora’s lap, Phoebus once more
Laughs merrily, covered with many-hued flowers.
Zephyr inhales the perfumed fragrance;
So questing for the prize, let us compete in love.

Trilling her song, sweet Philomel is heard
And with flowers smiling, the peaceful meadows lie,
A flock of birds rises from the woods,
A chorus of maidens brings a thousand joys.

(“Veris leta facies” from Carmina Burana)

Perhaps then the dry spell will be over, and I will have better luck. Then I could sing…

Come, come, pray come, do not let me die,
Your face is so lovely, your shimmering eyes,
Your braided hair, how beautiful you are!

Redder than the rose, whiter than the lily,
Fairer than all others, I shall always glory in you!

(“Veni, veni, venias” from Carmina Burana)

And in addition, it might so happen that all of you could then sing…

If a boy and girl linger together,
Happy is their union.
Swelling love leaves and keeps afar tedious good sense,
And ineffable pleasure fills limbs, arms and lips.

(“Si puer cum puellula” from Carmina Burana)

Of course, all this would have been so much easier if I had a date for Friday, since all these songs, and indeed many more were sung at the orchestra concert, which featured a magnificent performance of Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana. Powell Symphony Hall was packed for this opening night performance conducted by David Amado, and no one should have went home disappointed. The Orchestra, Symphony Chorus Choir, and Children’s Choir (all packed onto the stage themselves) gave an energetic and powerful performance that ranks among the best I’ve ever heard, and that well earned them the standing ovation that they received.

After the concert, Greg (the friend that I took to the concert) and I went to The Pub Above at Dressel’s where we had Martinis (a delicious mocha martini for me), and then we wandered around the Central West End—home to St. Louis’ young urban professionals—until the alcohol had fully worn off.

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My evil plan to save the world,
Just you wait ’till it’s unfurled,
It’ll go down in history.
It’s prophetic,
No it’s not pathetic.
I can’t believe I made it up myself.

–Five Iron Frenzy, “My Evil Plan to Save the World”

After my first year of seminary, I was disappointed that I hadn’t even begun to experience St. Louis culture, so, when I found out that the St. Louis Symphony offers a really sweet student discount on series tickets, I concocted a plan to rectify the situation. I had enjoyed the wonderful concerts of the F&M Orchestra throughout my college years, so this was my chance to move up to the big leagues, so to speak. However, I didn’t want to go alone. Where would be the adventure in that? Instead, I decided that I’d get two tickets so that I could take someone with me, perhaps even a lovely young female if I should be so lucky!
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