Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Christian Music Festivals

This is as close to talking about religion as we're ever going to get here so don't get nervous. For the purposes of reading this article the only thing you need to understand is that there are Christians in the world. You do not need to believe anything in particular nor will I try to get you to believe anything related to religion. This post is about a music ecosystem.

I just came back from mixing a date at the local Christian music festival which takes place in and around an amusement park. When I got home my Facebook page was full of pictures and comments from folks from church that all had a wonderful time and enjoyed the music and the sights and the general experience. Then there was one from a friend who just happened to be at the park as a regular patron and didn't even realize there was a music festival going on. 

His post went on at length about kids sporting t-shirts from the local Christian college running around with foul mouths, making out in public,trampling small children to get where they were going and whatnot. There was also a video clip posted of a drummer on the main stage who had an elevated, panning, tilting, spinning drum riser a-la Tommy Lee. A couple of the comments on that were that it was money that could be better spent elsewhere.

Which brings me to the point of this post. The only thing I'll say about the poor behavior of the event patrons is that college freshman are idiots no matter what school they go to. As for the behavior of the rest of the patrons it can be hard to tell who's there for the event and who's just there for the water slides so I won't say anythng.

But beyond that, if the Church is supposed to be acting like Jesus would, why are they spending all this money on a big festival? The first reason is that in rich countries church is often just one more thing that people consume and not something you actually participate in. So blame consumer culture and be done with it. But it goes even deeper than that.

There are artists who want to make music that is geared toward church people. That can be anything from music actually written to be used in church services to pop oriented stuff that's more for musical enjoyment. That simple act excludes them from pretty much the entire existing music ecosystem. 

Regular venues don't want to book a Skillet or Thousand Foot Crutch because what church parent is going to let their kid go out to a venue that serves alcohol to see their favorite act? Also, except in rare (very rare) cases, nobody outside the Church cares about going to see those acts. So a venue is looking at a very limited box office night where they're not going to sell any drinks.

Hence the Christian Music Festival Circuit. It's quite simply just a vehicle for people that want to see Christian acts on stage. Apart from a few big churches that bring in acts it's the only vehicle, really. Christian music has to create its own ecosystem. That actually works out pretty well for the regular ecosystem because they don't have to even think about it.  
It's a shame that those weekends are often the least favorite for venue staff and locals. Jerks come in all shapes, sizes and colors and there are plenty of them that go to church and don't come out any better for it. It's a shame that in a crowd of tens of thousands of people the ones who are acting poorly are the ones that stand out and leave a bad taste in your mouth when the vast majority of them are just quietly enjoying themselves. But I guess that's true for any group of people.

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