You know what? Those travelogues are boring. So I’m not going to finish it. The next couple days I did the Chicago thing, with the hot dog, lakefront, and all that. I was glad Sarah and Joe got to hang out with us. They’re very cool. The weird thing about the Hong siblings is that they’re all completely different, both in looks and character. It’s bizarre. But seriously, they’re all so different it’s weird.

As Dave mentioned, I yelled, “Chicago!” loudly at pertinent sites. Also, at the Sears Tower, I started singing “I Want It That Way” pretty loud. Anyway, the two men in front of us in line, when I started singing, turned around and gave me the most hateful look I’ve ever seen. Oh my goodness. Total fear.

Another highlight was the phalluses. We went to this one museum and they had exhibits on ancient Egyptian art. Anyway, there were a couple small statues there called: man holding his phallus. And these phalluses were huge, like larger than their body. The statues just had the men hugging their phalluses, with a ridiculous grin on their faces.

So being the dorks we were, we recreated the pose on one of the columns at the museum. Then at the Sears Tower, with the Sears Tower. That is one big phallus. Ohmy.

The other thing is, I think Joe thought I was hilarious. Well, maybe not. But there was this one time me and Dave were shooting the breeze, and as usual, I got onto an absurd track, and Dave as usual is goading me on, saying like, this better be good, etc. And all I remember is my upshot involved oily nipples. And you know, Dave and Henry would typically give me nothing for that. But Joe was dying for about 5 minutes. It was a great feeling. Joe Hong and Matthew Hsu are the biggest fans of my humor. I should have gone to Brown.

I got back on Wednesday, at night. On Friday, I drove down with Kevin Lee, George, and Phil for Keren Ji’s wedding. Again, I’ll spare you the boring details, but one interesting thing is George had car trouble. It’s like a theme of my driving.

So driving to L.A. was good for several reasons. I had a good talk with Kevin, which I haven’t done in a while. We actually drove to San Diego the next day for Susie and Dave’s wedding, then back up to L.A. for Keren’s on the same day. Then we drove up that night. Pretty crazy. I drove like a madman for that week. Insane amount of driving.

So L.A. was good because 1) I got to hang out with Jieun the love of my life, and 2) I got to hang out with the FiCS class of ’99. I’ve said this before, but I’ve always felt that that class was the heart of FiCS. In terms of numbers, this is irrefutable. But in other ways as well. At any rate, it’s a cool group of people and I had a surprisingly good time hanging out with them.

As you may or may not know, I just got back from a mini-retreat, a la Henry’s San Diego excursion from last year. It was good. The only really pertinent thing to mention here is that I’m not starting a cell church right away. But I have a plan. I’ll keep you posted.

By the way, every single person I talk to about starting a cell church finds it very compelling. They’ve often said that they’d go to that church. I have two goals for this page – to write why I’m into the Asian American church idea, and to outline why I find the cell church paradigm so compelling. But we’ll see if I have time.

As part of my little trip, I went to one night of Spirit West Coast. It was the opening night, the cheapest, and had a worship emphasis so I thought it would be good for me.

And it ended up being pretty dope. I just had a really good time there.

The bands I saw were: The Kry, Sonicflood, Plus One, and Delirious.

One thing I really don’t like about Christian concerts is that it seems like a big rally. Like, what people want is just a big cheerleading event, where they give big cheers for Jesus and feel good about themselves. I don’t know if that makes any sense. But it just feels a little shallow, and a little manipulative to me. But it’s what the people want, I suppose. I just feel like there can be another use of music.

I don’t know, it’s hard for me to trust the sincerity of people sometimes. When I was in high school, it really bothered me when, say after a really intense time of prayer (we were into the yelling and screaming method), people would immediately be laughing and joking around by the campfire. I mean, I suppose that’s fine, and as I matured, it didn’t bother me as much. But on some level, it still doesn’t sit right with me. I guess with me, it takes a bit, a while to get into something, and it takes even longer to get out of something, if that makes any sense at all. And I can’t see how people can get in and out of it so fast. It just makes me cynical.

So say with worship, which as is popularly said today, is a lifestyle, not an action. It takes a little time and effort for me to really get into a worshipful attitude. But once I’m there, it’s hard for me to get out of it. So I don’t get people who can immediately raise their hands and close their eyes at a song, then very quickly start laughing and joking around with their friends, and then go back really quickly to the worshipful posture. I suppose it’s possible, but I’m just cynical about it, which is probably my problem. Just for me, I’m slow getting in and slow getting out.

If you get to the heart of it, I suppose how I really feel deep inside is that a sincere worshipful attitude only happens like it happens with me. It takes time to get there, and once you’re there, it’s deep. And, I’m probably wrong, it’s just this is my gut feeling about things.

I guess that’s why I feel like what people want at these concerts is an emotional cheer, not a true worshipful attitude. That’s terrible for me to say. But it’s the feeling I sometimes get. Just because people get in and out of this worship attitude so quickly, it’s bizarre to me. It seems to me what people want is a little emotional pick me up, not worship. Not that that’s bad, there’s a place for that with music. Just call it what it is.

I’m being harsh, and it sounds like I had a terrible time, but I really didn’t. In large part because some bands transcended this. As superficial as the attitude might have been, sometimes the sincerity of the bands rose above it.

So the Kry has kind of changed. It used to be a trio, and the lead singer played bass. Now he plays guitar, and they’ve added a new bassist. Partly because the lead guitarist is leaving to do other ministry somewhere, which kind of made me sad. Anyway, they said the typical Christianese stuff, and whatever, but their sincerity as people just struck me, and encouraged me. I don’t know how to explain it, but they just didn’t seem fake, nor were they manipulative, and I appreciated and respected that. I actually also heard them in a late night tent in some tent, and I heard the very last performance of Take My Hand live with the original band members involved (it was the guitarist’s very last gig). I just thought that was kind of cool.

Also, I just wanted to confirm that for the most part, I play the song correctly.

Sonicflood was loud. Really, really loud. I don’t know, for me personally, it’s hard to “worship” to stuff like that, but other people were getting into it. Different strokes for different folks. But for me, I just can’t do it. One thing is, they have a rock-star swagger about them. I’m sure they’re great guys, but I just can’t reconcile having a rock-star swagger with being a worship oriented band. It’s just a strange juxtaposition to me. And, the way they play their songs, it just puts a slick sheen on everything. It’s loud and everything, but it sounds too slick, not raw enough. I can’t really explain that. But for me, worship just can’t be too slick or it loses something, it becomes something else.

Musically, though, they were pretty tight. I’d say I enjoyed it a lot, on an emotional level. I enjoyed their set a great deal, purely on a musical level. They were pretty good. And, I should mention, loud.

The next band was Plus One. You’ve probably never heard of them, but they’re an ‘N Sync knockoff. A Christian boy band. It was pretty lame, and honestly, the crowd was pretty antagonistic. Most of them were standing around so that they’d be in good position for Delirious. And they were pretty out of place in that lineup, which was definitely more rock oriented.

At any rate, it was pretty amusing, seeing the bubble-gum pop songs complete with choreography in a Christian context. I can kind of see why they might do that, but it was still pretty lame. But to be honest, no lamer than ‘N Sync et al. The funniest thing was, some Delirious people were in the back setting up, and you could see them checking it out and semi-jokingly bopping to the music.

I will say that I respect them, though. The crowd was pretty antagonistic, and they had massive technical difficulties throughout the set, but they maintained a pretty good attitude about it all. Plus, when the music would die in the middle of a song, the vocals would continue, so they were actually singing. I don’t know, they seemed like pretty good guys, so, I was impressed by that.

Delirious took about 1 hour to sound check. My back was killing me at this point. It was the effort of having to stand up straight to see for 5 hours. I’m not used to that. The annoying thing was, I started standing early, so I could get a good position for Delirious. Then all these punks started filtering through and working their way to the front of the crowd, as if everyone else there weren’t as big fans as they were so they were justified. I was freaking standing for Plus One to get a good place, and these punks were just coming through ignoring me.

I guess what annoyed me was their attitude like they were the only real Delirious fans there. Because I was the only real Delirious fan there. Well, that’s not true, but in some way I kind of felt like I had a right to be at the very front more than anyone else (I didn’t make it there, though), because no one could appreciate Delirious on as many levels as I, nor as deeply on any on of those levels as I. It simply wasn’t as important for other people to be in the front as it was for me. I needed to hear them clearly, see them, and see what/how they were playing their instruments. People in the front were closing their eyes. How can you close your eyes when you realize that Martin Smith is picking his guitar with humbucking pickups and a deep fuzz with his fingers, no pick, and no fingernails? And that he employs drop D tuning with his acoustic? Argh.

I’m not saying my claims to the front were justified. I just felt that way because I was annoyed that people were shoving to the front. However, all my claims are in fact true.

At any rate, Delirious was really good. They’re just a very musical band, and very good live. It’s fascinating to me to see how they duplicated their studio work, which has layers and layers of guitars and effects, live. Surprisingly, they often did so with just a single guitar, as Martin Smith frequently sang without a guitar. And the guitar parts Stuart played were also interesting.

A side note. I need to get a Marshall Amp. The guitars people used differed from band to band, but every single one used a Marshall setup, the exact same preamp-cabinet stack. There must be a reason for this. Interesting thing is, every band comboed this. I only noticed that Sonicflood used a Fender amp with it, while Delirious used a Vox(?). But this is only interesting to me.

The cool thing of course was to see the definitive version of Did You Feel The Mountains Tremble. And of course, they played it to perfection. I mean, it’s obvious, since they wrote it, but a lot of versions just miss the nuances and touches that make the song cool. The way Delirious played it wasn’t exactly like the studio version, but obviously they know the nuances perfectly, and it was deeply compelling.

He also played a bold version of I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever with just a fingered acoustic guitar in D. Very very bold. Plus slightly different chords.

Anyway, I wrote about this before, but I love live music, especially when stuff all comes together and they capture energy. There’s just something magical that happens when it all comes together and it’s something I never ever forget. I don’t think any of these concerts achieved the magic of my top concert moments, but it was good. I could listen to live music all day, so it was a great day.

Hope this wasn’t too boring. I just had to write about music because it’s what I love.

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