DC Talk Concert

By Victoria Moon

Essays could (and should) be written about how the metamorphosis of CCM is reflected in the microcosm of CCM that is DC Talk. The band has moved from teenybopper, white-boy rap-lite to an amalgamation of complex styles that, in reflecting several genres at once, manages to be none of them at all. DC Talk is the quintessential Nineties rock band, a postmodern blend of rap, rock, techno, folk, R&B, classic gospel, grunge and punk that every year seems to grow more seamless.

The band's live performance at Louisville Gardens March 19 was an excellent showcase for the band's evolution. Opening acts The W's and Jennifer Knapp, reflecting the new trends in ska and powerful female singer-songwriters respectively, were strong statements that CCM is no longer as white bread as it used to be, nor as easy to disregard by secular critics. But it was DC Talk that sent that message loudest and most clearly to the sold-out arena. With a stage show that rivaled - and in many cases surpassed - secular shows of the same caliber that have passed through here, DC Talk proved once and for all that Christians can rock with the best of `em.

Mixing video clips with an outstanding laser and light show as they walked the length of a stage that resembled nothing more than a fashion runway, the show delivered its ancient message in a postmodern light easily accessible even to the most die-hard of atheists. The band included clips of songs and melodies from sources as diverse as the Beatles, KC and the Sunshine Band, Van Halen, and Beck and the concert flowed as quickly and entertainingly as a two-hour music video.

It would be difficult, however, to ignore the fact that this is a Christian band first and foremost. Despite the fame this band has won in secular circles and its techno-slick, rock-star trappings, this band insists on making it clear that God is the center of its existence. I found their commitment to this message refreshingly honest in a time when many other so-called Christian bands rush to water down their messages to make it acceptable to a crossover audience. There was an acoustic break halfway through the show that was as close to church as one could get in a noisy arena with huge beach balls bouncing by. I especially appreciated the band's touching musical tribute to the late Rich Mullins, although the more poignant moments of the band's set were lost in the sound of adolescent girls screaming "I LOVE YOU!!" to the band members.

Occasionally during the show, I must admit I found myself thinking, "this is pure product": the vocals were perfect, the stage show was excellent, the moves choreographed and the musicians the best that Nashville studios have to offer -- perfection so obvious you know it couldn't exist in the real world. But then, DC Talk has always known how to put a killer show. And they do it so well, and have taken CCM to such a better place, that any criticism pales in light of that. It may occasionally get a little too CCM-perfect, but there's no denying that every moment of a DC Talk show is exciting, innovative, energetic, and proof that if any band can break the mold of what it means to be a Christian band, they can.