Sometimes I’m ignorant. I plainly make assumptions without any real information or experience to back it up. Take my rather disdainful outlook on Christian rock, which has changed this past week, as an example.
I simply viewed Christian rock as an outlet for those who aren’t good enough, for mainstream pop and rock, to make a name for themselves. You know, I thought these bands and singers needed a niche where the competition wasn’t as fierce, and maybe, just maybe, they felt strongly about God. I’m kind of sheepishly regretting that, as I recall listening to Disciple at the Cup o’ Joy this Friday night. I found a very talented and creative band, who seemed very genuine about spreading the message of Christianity, pouring their passion out on the stage.
Yet, our night started out in a trendy little joint that served artisan tacos. I debated whether I should include it in the blog, because it probably wouldn’t fit in the category of affordable places in Green Bay. It’s uniqueness, despite it’s rather pricey tacos, won me over however. So, I’ll relive Friday night.
It’s another stormy August afternoon, and I’m brainstorming a blog topic for my Tuesday entry. It’s quite a challenge. Originally, I had made the plans to hit the Brown County Fair. Unfortunately, It’s pouring outside at this moment. So, on towards Plan B which, at the moment, doesn’t quite exist yet.
I leaf through a Green Bay visitor’s guide, searching for some entertainment options close to home. I also peruse the TripAdvisor app looking for a novel place to eat. I know, it’s not exactly hardcore research but, hey, I might find something to pass on to others. I find a free Christian concert venue and a place called the Vintage Cantina.
The Christian music concert stage, known as Cup o’ Joy, is slated to host a hard rock band. I’m not into Christian rock for reasons listed in the intro, but I’m feeling adventurous and slightly open minded. Plus, listening to original hard rock is always interesting.
Tonight, as we make our way downtown on Washington Street, we’re hard pressed to find a parking spot. We have to use the Cherry Street ramp, every time I blog about downtown I end up using the Cherry Street ramp, and make the trek towards Al’s Hamburgers. The Vintage Cantina is literally a few feet before the famed shake shop.
We luck out when we arrive into the packed little eatery, which happens to be slightly trendier than most Green Bay restaurants, as there is one vacant table overlooking Washington Street. A polite young lady cleans up the mess, left from the previous patrons, and invites us to sit down. She slips two paper menus onto the table with a little advice, “Use these as placemats. The laminate gets really sticky from sitting in the sun all day.” I look at the wood table and wonder why they chose to use laminate anyways. No big deal, we order some water and check out the menu.
There’s some rather interesting sounding combinations that are thrown on my choice of a flour or corn tortilla, the tortilla being 4.5″ large. One that really catches my eye is a Tequila marinated swordfish taco with pineapple salsa. The other, a pork taco topped with pickled fruit sounds interesting. I know, it could be tasty or disastrously horrible.
I order those two, and one more with steak and horseradish sauce. I figure three should fill me up. For the price I’m paying, they should. The average taco is around $5, with the swordfish one at $6.
They arrive on a tin that holds the tacos upright and presents them appetizingly. The swordfish and steak combos are decent, not mind blowing, but sufficiently delicious. The pork, with the pickled fruit being blackberries and blueberries, is exceptional.
When we finish up, as I feel it common courtesy to leave promptly after we have payed, due to the group of people waiting for a seat. So we settle up and start the thirteen minute walk to Cup o’ Joy on Broadway. It has stopped raining after all, and it’s a comfortable night. The Fair might have actually not been a bust, but I’m now anticipating what I’ll find at the ‘Cup’.
When we enter, a lady greets us and hands us a flyer of upcoming events. The ‘Cup’ holds live concerts every Friday and Saturday night. Here is a plain Jane building that looks like it hasn’t been remodeled since the eighties. I’m not going to describe the building too much because they’re moving in October.
We walk into a rather small assembly of chairs and a crowd gathered around the stage. The ages of people waiting for the music range from five to sixty. It’s quite a sight. This place is a non-alcoholic establishment and serves coffee and the like.
According to the website, the band was supposed to start at seven, but it’s a few minutes after and we’re patiently waiting. While we do, I catch some upcoming acts visiting the Cup promoted on two television screens.
Some of the upcoming acts are what you would expect. You know, that James Taylor feeling folk singer type, sprinkling in lyrics of God and love. But there are others I don’t expect, including a white rapper who strikes me as Jesus’ version of Eminem. I’m not huge into hip hop, but tempted to check him out.
After a short prayer, Disciple takes the stage. I’m more than pleasantly surprised, I’m blown away. The guitar riffs, the bass lines and intricate drum beats correlate crisply and harmoniously together. The music seems to have a lot of metal influences. I pick up a Pantera connection in the lead singers screams and some of the Guitar licks. I sense a bit of Korn in some of the heavier guitar Riffs. And, as I’m not versed in today’s metal scene, I gather a lot of the metal of today in their songs. Yet, it’s totally an original sound.
These guys are nailing it, rocking the face off their fans who come decked out in Disciple T’s, which bears the name of one of the band’s hit songs ‘God is with us’ on the back. It’s fun to listen to the band play their songs and watch their faithful followers engaged with the music they are experiencing. I say experiencing, because it’s so much more than just listening. There’s fist pumping, head banging and lyric chanting, among other things, going on.
Then all becomes silent. A sweet middle aged woman takes the stage, which seems so out of place here, and announces that they are passing around cups for donations. This is how the Cup Of Joy survives, by people paying what they can. There are two cups, one for the band and one for the establishment. We put our money towards the venue. Nothing against Disciple, I’m enjoying this new found metal Goliath, well ok, maybe they’re David aptly suited to take on any metal Goliath. I just appreciate the Cup o’ Joy’s efforts to bring quality music to Green Bay.
After they pass around the cup, and this I was totally not expecting, the lead singer gives a sermon. The thing about this sermon is that it doesn’t sound preachy. It sounds as if a friend is confiding in me. It’s about forgiveness and that God’s forgiveness comes with a price tag. The price tag being that we should, in turn, forgive those who have wronged us. I like it because it sells a harmonious community of Christians living for God and one another. I genuinely feel inspired.
And then they rock our face off again.
It’s the end of the night and the walk back to the car allows for a little inward reflection, that I don’t share with Heidi. My blog, which I had dreamed to monetize one day seemed remotely related to what I witnessed tonight. I know I won’t make millions, but I like the interaction with people around the world. I simply like to write and, whether my attempt may be misguided or not, I feel that what I’m doing is right. That’s the bottom line isn’t it? Find something you like to do, and be the best you can be, no matter how other people think, react or talk.
I sense that same attitude from Disciple. I think that their ‘hardcore metal’ song list, that instead of including lyrics of aggression, angst or hostility, brings God’s message, which they are incredibly passionate about, to youth and men who might not otherwise hear those words. They’re doing what they want in such an absolutely benevolent fashion.
So, before this day, my take on Christian rock was absolutely foolish.