Derek Webb Rocks My Face Off!!!

So, for any of you who don't already know, I went to one of the coolest concerts ever on Sunday night. Probably my favorite Christian band is the folk/acoustic/pop/rock group Caedmon's Call, and in February of 2003 one of the band's two songwriters, Derek Webb (Aaron Tate was the other), decided to leave the band in anticipation of the release of his first solo album, "She Must And Shall Go Free." Fast forward a few months ahead, after the release of SMASGF; Derek Webb has just become AJ's new favorite rock musician of all time. Fast forward again to October of 2005, aka The Present Time. DW has released 2 more albums and a DVD, and has still not toured in Southern California. Until NOW. He played 3 shows in as many days over the weekend, and I caught the show on Sunday night in Oxnard. Stay tuned for the full concert report, coming up next....

After church in the morning, I headed back to the apartment and packed my backpack with all the homework I planned to accomplish that afternoon. They were only selling the tickets at the location of the concert--Calvary Chapel of Oxnard--and not online, so I wanted to get to the church early to make sure I got a ticket and a good seat, although I was relatively sure that the concert had no chance in _____ (name your own obscure place here) of selling out since nobody knows who the heck Derek Webb is. So I thought I'd head up early, then just do homework all afternoon, get my ticket when they opened the doors and then see the concert.

I went to the newly-opened Chipotle on State College and Chapman for lunch. I'd been to Chipotle in Redlands before, but this one in Fullerton just opened; and I thought: On what better occasion than a DW concert to have my first meal there? And concurrently, what better way to start off my trip to a DW concert than to eat at this Chipotle for the first time? A good catch-22--not often you see one of those. Anyway, I had 3 soft chicken tacos (good stuff), then headed out and began my journey to Oxnard.

On the drive up, I got in some good praying time, thanks to my screwing up of something, dumping of responsibility on a friend of mine and feeling bad about it. I felt bad after I called her, so I prayed about it and ended up praying for about 45 minutes. Beautiful how God can work through our sin and bring good out of them.

[Switching to present tense because it’s more interesting...] I make it to the Calvary Chapel in Oxnard in about an hour and a half, and arrived at 3:20. There was only one other car in the parking lot. I promptly go to try to gain entrance to the church, since I need to go to the bathroom. One door locked. Two doors locked. Go around the building--three doors locked. Four doors locked. Go around to the other side--five doors locked. Go around the final side--no doors there. Curses...

So I wait, hanging around the parking lot, wondering when the guy with the keys will show up. Finally a car drives up, and then stays parked with no one getting out of it. I go over and start talking to the driver, and find out he’s a DW fan from LA named Cliff who went to the show on Saturday night at The Master’s College and came today to help DW unload and set up. But, of course, he doesn’t have keys either.

So we both wait, we chat for a while, and finally a red Chevy Outlander drives up which Cliff identifies as DW’s traveling van. So it parks, and out step Derek, his wife Sandra McCracken Webb (who is also a singer/songwriter and who often tours with him), and his manager Davejac, who has his own indie website. And of course, none of them have keys either. So Cliff and I, being the fans that we are, go over to talk to them while we all wait for the freakin’ people with the keys to get there.

So I finally got to meet the venerable Derek Webb. I must confess I was a little star-struck at first, especially to see him in real life. They always look different than they do in the pictures (just like, you know, the burgers at fast food places. They never look like the pictures on the menu). Derek is actually about half an inch shorter than me, and just as skinny. And Sandra’s gorgeous (too bad she’s taken). Craziness. I was a little disappointed at first, because he was tired and unenthusiastic about playing the show, and Sandra seemed like she was a little sick. But he talked to Cliff and I for a half hour while we stood outside waiting. We talked about his new album coming out in December, which will be called “Mockingbird,” talking about how he recorded it, what kind of songs were on it, whether or not it’s a “concept” album. Finally somebody from the church showed up at 4:00, and let us in. Derek invited Cliff and I inside, so we got to sit in the sanctuary and watch while he and Sandra did their soundcheck. That was cool. I tried to start my orchestration homework, but that didn’t work too well, and I decided to put off all homework-related activities till that night, after the concert. Why spoil an only-once-in-who-knows-how-many-years event with stupid homework?!

After they were finished soundchecking, I went to go buy my ticket, then hung around the merch table while Davejac was setting it up. I finally bought DW’s DVD “How To Kill And Be Killed,” which is the concert DVD of the release party of his latest album in Nashville; Sandra’s first CD, “The Crucible;” and an EP of Sandra’s called “Grace Upon Grace,” which is a taste of her upcoming CD “The Builder And The Architect” which consists purely of old hymn lyrics set to new music. That comes out in December; expect to hear a few of them when we start our Crusade meetings again in the spring. :) So altogether, with my ticket and all the merch, I spent $37 (not including my lunch at Chipotle). But hey, he hasn’t been to SoCal since going solo—it’s worth a splurge!

The concert itself started at 6. Unfortunately there were only like 30 people there, but at least I got to sit in the very front and get lots of pictures. Davejac came up and explained that the concert was a benefit for some organization called Youth For Orphans, which I didn’t hear about at all any more for the rest of the night somehow. Then he brought Derek on, he said a few words and started with “I Want A Broken Heart.”

For my own purposes of remembrance, I wrote down his setlist as he played it; but seeing as probably only 2 people who will read this know anything about Derek Webb and his repertoire, I won’t bore the rest of you with it. Those two people can ask me to email it to them, if they care. It was kind of cool how they broke it up; instead of Sandra doing an opening set, then Derek coming on and playing for the rest of the time, they did some sets solo and some together. Derek started and played 7 songs, then Sandra came on and did 2 of hers with Derek accompanying; then Derek played another of his, then Sandra come on to accompany him, then he did 2 more solo, then he accompanied Sandra for one and they closed with another one of Derek’s songs together. Very cool. They have a great dynamic when they play together, and their voices blend very well. Good times.

Derek gave several short talks during the set, mostly by way of intros to songs. I won’t copy out all the notes I took on all his talks, but he said some really good stuff. While introducing a song from “Mockingbird” called “New Law,” he talked about art in the church, and said that the first thing we learn about God, His first attribute revealed to us in Scripture, is that He is the Creator—“In the beginning God created.” Thus, as we are made in His image, any art that we create is a mimicry in our small way of His creation, and thus has intrinsic value, regardless of whether or not it’s overtly spiritual or “functionally spiritual.” He also said that instead of separating Christian from secular music by creating those categories, we should instead simply learn to discern beauty and truth. Then we can be free to engage with all different kinds of art, because we’re not blindly looking into anything but we know what we’re looking for. I liked this quote too, along the same lines: “Anything Jesus is Lord of, I can write a song about; and He’s Lord of all.”

He also said some funny stuff about love songs—he’s been trying to write a good love song in the 5 years he’s been married, but hasn’t succeeded yet. He said that he can’t write a regular “radio-style” love song—“I’m great, you’re great, when we’re together it’s great, it’s all so great—have you ever heard a love song?”—because if you’re being honest in your writing, it becomes I’m a screwed-up person and you’re a screwed-up person but we’re committed to each other and to making this work. Very funny, but true. He called them “sabotaged love songs.” I also liked this quote: “The truth will kill a good love song.”

He also gave a long talk about Blood:Water Mission, which is a group founded by Jars of Clay whose goal is to build 1000 clean-water wells in the poorest parts of Africa. It was powerful—even I, ever the cynic, was moved. He talked about the “two sides” of the gospel: 1, that Christ died to save us from our sins, but 2, that we’re to work for His Kingdom on earth. Based on that, he gave the best explanation I’ve heard for why we should “love on” unbelievers with needs and not just fellow believers: by giving food to a hungry man, we’re proclaiming the Kingdom where there is no more hunger, and by comforting the downcast, we proclaim the Kingdom where there are no more tears. Fortotrain! Shiloh, eat your heart out....

I hung around after the show was over to get a picture and an autograph. Derek and Sandra didn’t show up for a while, so I got Davejac’s autograph first and waited. Finally Derek came out into the church lobby. This time, after the show, he was no longer tired and unenthusiastic; how he was all smiles, very friendly, and more than accommodating. I got both his and Sandra’s autographs, then got 2 pictures—one with Derek and I, then one with Derek and Sandra and I. YES!!! Amazing!!! He was so friendly; he hung around and talked to me for a while afterwards too. We all left the church around 9, and despite a few wrong turns on the way back, I made it home by 10:30. I listened to “The Crucible” on the way home, and wrote part of a song in my head after the CD was over (and recorded the melody in a voice memo on my phone). Crazy.

All in all, it was a freakin’ incredible show. I would have liked to see the full band, but I did get the DVD, and the solo show was definitely just as cool. I enjoyed seeing Derek and Sandra perform together and help each other out. I also liked how he played so many songs from the new CD (5 in all); most of the time bands will only play 2 or 3, to get you to buy the album, but he told me he wouldn’t mind playing all the songs from the new record if he didn’t think it would be too heavy and too intense for one set. Plus, I got to hang out with him and talk to him more than I would have if the band had been there. The solo show was simple but powerful. And rockin’ too! Plus I got autographs, and PICTURES with Derek and Sandra! That like makes my year right there!!

So the moral of the story is... if you’ve never heard any of DW’s music, you should. Because every Christian should. Check out his official site (which is hardly ever updated) at derekwebb.com, and his fan site, which is a little better, at derekwebb.net. If you want to listen to any of his music, feel free to ask me to loan you a CD or two. Feel free to ask me to burn you one too; just know that I won’t do it. :) And until next time...

“Love is different than you'd think
It's never in a song or on a TV screen
And love is harder than a word
Said at the right time and everything's alright
Love is different than you think....”
(“Love Is Different” by Derek Webb, from the Caedmon’s album “Long Line Of Leavers”)


faye! said...

so like.. ill read it when you shorten it. but from the looks of your entry.. looks like you had a great time.. props to you! and derek webb.

Darth_Harbison said...

lol . . . if you think that that was long, you'd best stay well away from my blog, Faye . . .

In any case, doesn't "Love is Different" count as a love song? A "true" love song, I mean?

And sure, go ahead and email his playlist to me . . . I'd be curious to know.

maTT said...

I'd love to see the setlist, and I am so excited for you and extremely jealous. You didn't even tell me that there was a concert coming up. I'm very sad right now.

CSUF Rock Star said...

Nah, "Love Is Different" is a sabotaged love song as well. She freakin' leaves him to go to England! That's pretty jacked, if you ask me. He also says that he doesn't know what he wants, and that love came up and slapped him in the face. Plus, this quote from caedmon'scall.net:

"This song is the last of a 3-part series of tunes (including 'Somewhere North' and 'Daring Daylight Escape') that Derek wrote about a relationship he had. This song was written after he and the girl had broken up. It sums up Derek's realization that "love is different" than the things our pop culture promotes. "Love is more complicated than just one song about one great day that you had," says Derek in regards to the song."


Idhrendur said...

$37 is not splurging at a show...it's starting to buy merch.