For a couple of years now, I’ve known that three of my grandsons, plus two other friends, had formed a ‘contemporary-Christian’, hard-core, heavy-metal band. Many times at family gatherings, birthdays, holidays, etc., I’ve asked them to tell me about their music and that I’d like to hear them play sometime. I usually get smiles, guarded glances between them, snickers, and stuff like that. Their answers were comments such as...“It’s loud, Papa! You probably wouldn’t like it!”. To which I usually say things like, “Well, would I hear a melody?”, “Does someone sing, and if so, who?” They always look at Eric (Marty’s oldest son, age 20) and again with twisted, but smiling, facial expressions, say something like, “Well, Eric is the ‘singer’. I wouldn’t let up, though, saying, “Good. Tell me about Eric’s singing.” It was Jonathan (Jen’s youngest - 16, who likes the band but tells things like they are), that first blurted out to me...”ERIC SCREAMS!!!”
Now Eric plays the piano, and composes most of what he likes to play. His songs are very ‘musical’, harmonious and quite pleasant to listen to. I’ve often heard Jacob softly strumming a guitar in his bedroom (Jake is Jen’s ‘middle’ son, age 18). He also spent a couple of hours with me one day this past Christmas and played 12 of his ‘made-up’ songs on the classical guitar, which I recorded. I’d never heard Matthew (Marty’s youngest, 18) play at all. That’s a thumbnail sketch of all I had seen and/or heard musically from my grandsons. Until last night!
Jen called me this week telling me that THE SECOND CHANCE (the band’s name) would be competing with two other bands this weekend and would I like to come?. So, I told her ‘absolutely’. Jen, Josh (Jen’s oldest son - 21), Lindsey (Josh’s friend) and I went out to dinner prior to the concert. (Josh plays the piano beautifully, but is not a member of the band.)
The concert was held at Cornerstone Baptist Church in Dixon. “That’s cool!”, I thought. However, I was surprised when I entered the sanctuary. The room was bare except for the stage up front. No chairs. That’s it!
For the next half hour, the room began to fill up with tons of youth! All of them talking loud, laughing hilariously at each other’s comments, poking one another, most of the guys dressed with “pants on the ground!”, weird T-shirts galore, some of the girls had multi-colored hair, all cute but perhaps a bit overly-made up...got the picture?
There would be 3 groups in competition. As the first band warmed up, the crowd’s voices got increasingly loud in order to hear one another. So, I decided I’d better turn down the level of my hearing aids. At first the band members warmed up individually, but then they started doing a few practice jabs on their instruments together. I then realized the sound pressure was going to be too great, even with my hearing aids turned all the way down, so out they came. Next, as the MC introduced this first group (from the Oakland-SF Bay-Area) and the band began to vigorously respond instrumentally to their call, I thought — “This still isn’t good enough! My natural hearing seems to have come alive!” So, I went to the men’s room to get some T.P. , with which I fashioned two ear plugs.
When the band really got into their first ‘song’, I could feel the room shaking, somewhat like an earthquake. (Seriously, living here in California, I have experienced earthquakes before; this didn’t feel all that different!) The sounds were at ear-splitting volume levels, which would definitely compete with several jets taking off simultaneously at an air show. It was at this time I recalled and understood what my grandsons had tried to tell their Papa about their ‘music’.
After 2 or 3 of their first numbers I entertained thoughts of leaving. Let me explain why by putting this in even clearer perspective. As the guys played their ‘music’ (without a hint of recognizable melody — to me, it could only be called rhythmic noise played at deafening levels)...all those young people I told you about earlier became a huge, tightly-knit group of gyrating, pulsating, flailing ‘hunks of protoplasm’, almost violent, throwing and knocking each other all over the place. It appeared that others would attempt to jump in different directions at the same time — arms and legs going one way, their bodies going another way! You’d have to see that to understand what I’m trying to describe. I suppose they call this ‘dancing’. (? for the experts: Is this where the term “break dancing” came from? If not, that’s an appropriate name for it.) I’m amazed that there were no serious injuries (at least, I don’t think so.)
At one point, I suppose due to the expressions on my face, Jen leaned over and said, “Dad, you don’t have to stay. Leslie can take me home.” But I said, “No, I’ll stay.” I wanted to see ‘my boys’, who were scheduled to play last.
Each of the sessions lasted about 40 minutes, with a 15 or 20 minute break between them.
Some other interesting and somewhat surprising observations:
Watching the young people interact conversationally before the ‘concert’ began and during the break times, I observed, gladly, that they were all pleasant and kind to one another. Except for fun-poking and that sort of stuff, they didn’t appear at all wild or crazy. There were no indications of drugs or drinking. In fact the MC had made it very clear at the onset that this was to be a God-honoring activity and that any kind of foreign substance-abuse was absolutely forbidden.
And, let me tell you of an incident that illustrates the character of one young fellow. We had tickets and there were drawings during the break times. Well, on the last break, I actually had a winning ticket. But by the time I made it to the stage through the crowd, they had given up on that number, called another and the prize was given to someone else. So, I just smiled at the MC and walked away. A bit later, a young man came up to me and handed me his Itunes prize card, acknowledging that he knew that I had won it before him. I looked at him, and handed the prize back to him, saying that I wanted him to have it. His face lit up with appreciation. An old guy and a young guy had made a memory at this ‘blast’.
Band #2 was a little more laid back. Now don’t misunderstand me, I was now wearing a pair of store-bought ear plugs which Eric’s girl friend, Ashley, had provided me. The sound level was still huge! (I don’t know the origin of this group.) The ‘dancing’ wasn’t quite as lively. I think once or twice I could actually hear a trace of melody trying to squeeze into one of their ‘songs’. (On the other hand, maybe Lance was actually adapting a little bit to this stuff! Oh no, could that be true?! Ha!
In both of the first two bands there was a leader continually yelling into a microphone at the top of his lungs. Not one word could I discern intelligibly. And of course the musicians were all over the stage, bouncing up and down magnificently, with their instruments swinging up and down constantly, and their fingers sliding up and down the fret-board at lightning speed. Can you see it? I know very well that many who read this know exactly what I am trying to describe with thoughts like, “Lance, where have you been for the past umpteen years?”
Before the concert started, Jen and I were kinda hoping our guys would be first, allowing us to possibly not stay for the whole event. Well, actually I’m glad it turned out the way it did. For it allowed me to compare and contrast the three groups, which might very well be the only time in my life that I would have any desire to exercise this opportunity.
Your Second Chance is the name of ‘my boys’ band. As they began to prepare and set up the stage with their instruments, I couldn’t help noticing a different attitude was sweeping throughout the place. I wasn’t sure as to why this was happening, but it was clearly observable. It seemed like the anticipation was rising among the young people as the guys worked to make the stage ‘theirs’.
Eric, Jake and Matt had all made it clear to me before the concert started that they were not going to hold back anything just because I was present. They would be ‘doing their thing’ to the full. “Oh my! What am I going to see?”, I thought. I mean, after everything I’d already seen, and with the crowd appearing to be becoming increasingly excited as the clock ticked away, what outlandish things am I going to witness next???
Well, from measure 1 till the end, a whole new level of power erupted from the stage, and flowed out to the young people in front of the stage. I’m not kidding or exaggerating. The crowd was not only responsive with their kind of ‘dancing’, but it was easy to see just how much they loved Your Second Chance. Well, since this group lives in Dixon, I’m sure most readers would simply say, “Well, Lance, most of the crowd here is already very familiar with Your Second Chance, and therefore are going to be more supportive of them than the other two groups.” There’s a certain logic to this conclusion, to be sure. But, I believe in exercising objectivity, even if three of my own grandsons are part of YSC. Whether one likes the kind of ‘music’ these three groups presented or not, YSC was unmistakably operating at a higher level of coordination and performance than groups 1 & 2.
Incidentally, a few days after the concert I learned that the difference in attitude towards Your Second Chance and other bands is experienced by the crowds wherever they go, Sacramento, Vacaville, Fairfield etc, not just Dixon. I was told that they are a very popular, well-liked band by many parents and kids in other cities.”
Oh, don’t get me wrong! The ‘music’ was still unbelievably strong and loud. The ‘dancers’ were more all over the place than before. At times, many of the guys dancing would go up, take Jake or Matt into their arms, lifting them high into the air and passing them around the room from hands to hands, with the boys still playing their instruments and never missing a beat, occasionally even inviting someone in the audience to strum while he kept fretting the chords!!! It was incredible to watch!
And yes, just like Jonny said, Eric was the SCREAMER! But he was not only yelling, there was a cadence to his method — all the band would act in unison to his ‘commands’. Their arms would go up simultaneously in perfect performance, like a military drill team acting in response to their commander. Reminded me of my boot camp training in the Navy. Loved it!
But later, Eric began doing something else; something we had not heard or seen all night. He was preaching the Gospel of Christ as the band continued playing! Did they become soft? Absolutely not! Eric’s words over-rode their instruments (obviously by design). He was not only sharing the Gospel to the young people, but he and the others were all lifting their arms and faces upwards towards heaven as a gesture of unified praise to God, again in perfect and harmony with one another. It was a sight to behold. Psalms 100:1&2 came immediately to my mind:
“Make a joyful shout to the LORD, all you lands! Serve the LORD with gladness; come before His presence with singing...”
And of course I must include a few verses from the final chapter of Psalms which says...
Praise the LORD? Praise God in the sanctuary: ...
Praise Him with the timbrel and dance; Praise Him with stringed instruments...Praise Him with cymbals; Praise Him with high sounding cymbals; Let everything that has breath praise the LORD.”
Praise the LORD!
This is a brief accounting of what I saw and heard last week when, for the first time, I witnessed my grandsons sharing their method of reaching out spiritually to young people. I have learned that when they perform, their objective is to win souls to Christ. They tell me that they often give an opportunity for those present to receive forgiveness for their sins by accepting Jesus as their Savior. Their explanation to me as to why they use loud, hard-metal music is because that’s what the youth of today listen to. It’s where they ‘live’. Young people will come and watch and listen to them because they understand the kind of ‘music’ they are playing. So, they go where they are, hoping to reach some and draw them to salvation through Christ Jesus. Is there any Biblical basis for such doings?...
“For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more: and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win the Jews; to those who are under the law, as to under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, But under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men, that I might by all means save some.”
1 Corinthians 9:19-22.
The strategy of ‘my boys’ seems to be in agreement with the apostle Paul. That’s pretty good company.
Also, I learned that they want to impact the members of other bands, most of which are not Christ-centered or Gospel-based.
When the concert was over, I went to each of my grandsons, hugged each of them, and whispered in their ear, “That was awesome!”
Let me close this by quoting from a local newspaper article:
Scream for Joy — By Chrissy Hahn
Sitting in on their practice was nothing like relaxing to the soothing sound of a soft song. Instead, energy was pumping through my veins. The rhythm was beating in my heart, as the smell of incense trailed through-out the garage. Which band had the ability to create an atmosphere? None other than Dixon’s very own Your Second Chance.
After two hours of fun and music with this hardore band, practice ended leaving me with soft ear drums. Beginning the interview with how Your Second Chance started, Curt explained that he ‘saw Jake wearing a Norma Jean (band) shirt in P.E.’, so he went up and talked to him. Curt met the rest of the guys through Jake. Matt informed me of how they ‘needed a drummer’ and Curt filled their criteria. Since March of this year, four songs have been made and friendships established. The band contains five members; Eric Johnson, unfrills the fibers of his vocal chords, while Matt Johnson and Jake Eilers are ‘schneddling the tweedledees’ (guitars), Evan Ferguson is ‘huffing the humferdinkle’ (bass) and Curt Bolcelli is ‘banging the boom-boomers’ (the drums). Evan says that their songs include Carousel of Fate, Shadows, Sustaining Pre-destined Victory, and Wasted Legacy.
When asked to describe their band I received a few humorous responses such as ‘cheddar cheese’, ‘different’, and ‘mules’. However, when Jake said ‘purple’, everyone agreed. As their serious side came out they said that “Your Second Chance” meant life. Eric explained how ‘Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life’, and that they are not here to reach out to Christians but to show the world what drives their band to play this music.
In fact, their key verse is Philippians 2:10: “that at the name of Jesus, every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth.” (NIV).
God Bless you, & God bless Your Second Chance,
P.S. A few days after the concert I learned that this was the semi-finals of the Battle of the Bands. Many bands had competed up to this point to be in the semi -finals. And, Your Second Chance did win this ‘battle’ moving them into the finals.
The End (honestly)