Sunday, March 9, 2008

I'd Build You An Empire

Two posts in a row about meeting a hero - I met Angels & Airwaves last Monday night before their show in Denver. I've been a huge fan of Tom Delonge since I was 16, which is going on 14 years now. After seeing him play live in three different bands (blink-182, Boxcar Racer, and Angels), I finally scored a chance to meet him and the rest of the band. In November 06 I was supposed to be able to meet them in Salt Lake City, but stuff got messed up and I missed out after driving 18 hours in two days to see them. (It was still worth it, by the way).

This time, I showed up right on time to meet the band, but was ticked off to find that the meet and greet had actually met before the e-mail I got told me. Since the e-mail said that one wouldn't be allowed in if they tried before 6, I didn't dare miss it again. After a few minutes I found the girl in charge of stuff and she told me that I had missed it. I begged her to let me go in since I had received bad information, and for some reason, she sympathized with me and I was following her backstage in a few seconds.

It was absolutely surreal to walk into the basement room that houses the band that night. Nobody was down there except for the four guys in the band. Tom was sitting in the right corner as I walked down, drawing on a cereal box, which sounds weird but is real. David, Atom, and Matt were talking straight in fromt of me. Walking down was awkward, but the guys were awesome. Atom and I talked about Rocket From the Crypt, one of his old bands that I love, and about San Diego - where three of the four guys are from. Atom was just cool - really warm and real down to earth kind of guy. David told Tom to quit coloring and come meet me, and he came over and shook my hand. I told him that I've listened to blink since before the "182" and he seemed genuinely thankful for that. We talked for a few more minutes about San Diego and other junk, and I was on my way.

It's funny because I think that all of us have a natural inclination to look up to people and really put them on a pedestal, and in some wyas that's weird and in some ways it's OK until it gets unhealthy. But I've met a bunch of influential people in the Christian community that are "Christian celebrities" that haven't been cool at all. Some are great, but for the most part I have felt like the majority are of the opinion that there is something special about them that the rest of us don't have. These guys were awesome and showed a ton of respect and humility for someone that admires their work.

The funny thing is that I have gained a ton of insight from all kinds of "secular" bands over the years that I haven't found in the shallow work of Christian artists. I think it's unfortunate that so many of the Christian artists are shallow and musically uninspired. I guess my point is that we tend to devalue things in Christendom that aren't on the "approved list," so to speak - but that is really shortsighted and lame. U2 aren't necessarily living any cleaner of a lifestyle than the majority of the bands out there, and the only one that I've heard profess faith in any kind of way (and it feels somewhat universalist to me) is Bono. But for some reason we are good with U2 and not other bands. I think it's time to open our minds up to the fact that people of other viewpoints and faiths have plenty to add to the spiritual conversation. While it may wind up being theologically off, maybe even flat-out wrong, if it points us to our redeemer, I see great value in all art. In the meantime, let's challenge Christian artists to be inspired by more than covering each others' songs over and over until they become a resounding gong, making my ears bleed.

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