You probably can’t appreciate the level of excitement when I saw the lineup for this Wednesday’s show at Sam’s Burger Joint. One of my favorite musical acts, Gungor, will headline the show with The Brilliance and Propaganda opening.
If you had asked me to list the five best acts I knew of in music today, I’m almost certain these three would have been on the list. You guys, it is insane that they are all on tour together. It would be a literal crime against humanity if I didn’t do my level best to get you to the show. Especially considering this will be your final opportunity to see the incomparable Gungor.
Here is an overview of the artists on the tour. Best case scenario, this will convince you to join me on Wednesday night. Worst case, you’ll have something new to listen to this week.
The duo behind The Brilliance, John Arndt and David Gungor (brother of Michael), walk the line between indie and worship music. Longtime friends, the two bring a lifetime of collaboration to the project. The result is an ambient, meditative musical experience that can be at times sonically and thematically challenging.
Los Angeles based rapper Propaganda is my favorite kind of rapper. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not an “elitist” fan. I love bubblegum pop. I love silly “hip-pop” rap as well. It’s fun. You dance to it at weddings. It’s great. Still, my favorite rap is conscientious rap. I grew up on rock and roll music. I’ve always felt rock and hip hop were cousins. Like rock, hip hop is at its best when it is a pure expression of the angst and helplessness we can’t articulate well enough without music. It’s an outlet for intense joy and deep suffering. When words fail, we incorporate melody. That’s my favorite kind of rap.
Propaganda doesn’t sacrifice any of the musical elements that make hip hop fun. My kind of music makes you dance as well as it makes you think. Prop doesn’t think like I do on a lot of social issues. His music challenges me as a man and as a Christian. Also, it bops.
I can’t say enough about this band.
When I was a youth minister Life Teen would send our parish “Life Support” boxes a few times a year with curriculum guides, assorted resources, and usually a CD. In 2010 one of those support boxes contained Gungor’s Beautiful Things album. Even in my more zealous days, I never liked praise and worship music. That album set my heart on fire. I was, perhaps for the first time, vindicated in my belief that church music could be, first, fantastic music. The guitar driven rock foundations on that record meant the world to my as a reluctant worship leader who just wanted to be in a garage band.
Some may know about Gungor’s “fall from grace” in the evangelical world. (They never fell from anywhere in my eyes. Always growing. Always improving) In my opinion the group, and the married couple behind the name, departed the “Christian music” world a long time ago with their I am Mountain album. I guess the labels meant more to others than they did to me. Some people hate Gungor. They are seen as heretics. I attended a Gungor show at a Methodist church where the church leadership cut the concert short because a young man struggling with atheism asked a question about belief and doubt during the Q&A. (This decision surely must have convinced the young man that the church remained a good place to be vulnerable and true to himself.) I think this sort of drama may be the biggest reason the Gungors are ready to close the book on the band.
I never had a lot invested spiritually in the band. I just love the music. Michael Gungor is one of the guitarists I most admire and try to emulate. Their live shows are among the best I’ve seen outside of arenas. Their musical talent is right up there with any musicians in any genre from any religious background. I’m sad to see “Gungor” end, but as long as Michael and Lisa are doing creative things, I’ll be happy to follow whatever path they tread.