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No thread for Amy and Emily? I guess that surprises me a little. 

Anyhow, Cindy and I caught their latest concert in Durham last night. I'll leave for more honed music critics to discuss the music. I was struck, not for the first time, by the palpable, powerful positive energy in the center. I would hardly be the first to comment about how the modern rock concert has easily supplanted church (or the evangelical "crusade") as the mass meet-up for a "spiritual" experience. (Nick Hornby includes the sports arena in that equation, and I don't think he's wrong.) The things that are supposed to happen in church but rarely do seem to happen a bit more frequently. People come together with shared purpose and shared experiences to....well, commune. Commune with "what," is a valid question. The answer would take longer than I have at the moment to explore deeply. 

I just know that when they sang Galileo as part of the encore that the audience cosigned more so than I've ever heard a congregation cosign a hymn. People seemed to come not just to be entertained but because the music expressed something in and about them that wasn't finding expression in other venues. (Emily spoke about this tangentially before introducing a new song for a forthcoming album about growing up gay listening to country radio.)

I don't quite have the same emotional pull to the music. For me the IG is a "like" not necessarily "love" relationship. I understand the sentiments of "Closer to Fine" :

There's more than one answer to these questions
Pointing me in a crooked line
And the less I seek my source for some definitive
The closer I am to fine, yeah
The closer I am to fine, yeah

I suppose I've felt something akin to that, though on an emotional level I always *feel* it more authentically when, say, Billy Joel sings "Shades of Grey"

Some things were perfectly clear, seen with the vision of youth
No doubts and nothing to fear, I claimed the corner on truth
These days it's harder to say I know what I'm fighting for
My faith is falling away
I'm not that sure anymore
Shades of grey wherever I go
The more I find out the less that I know
Black and white is how it should be
But shades of grey are the colors I see

I suppose on one level, the IG attention to Galileo makes "Closer to Fine" feel more like a repudiation of orthodoxy rather than an embrace of doubt (which is itself a step removed from a reverence for mystery.) There's a difference between saying, "I'm not sure of the truth," and "the truth in unknowable," and "the truth is just a construct created by the church as a social control mechanism." That said, listening to Emily sing about being gay and listening to country radio, a song that felt on-the-nose to me, I couldn't help but observe how many people recognized and felt deeply the emotions she was talking about. They were a deep longing for love and acceptance and a desire to reconcile one's own self to what had been a source of comfort -- spirituality, religion, God. I felt like I understood that *some* bitterness of gays towards Christians wasn't as much about personal rejection (you don't like/approve of me, so I dislike you back) so much as a fierce sense of loss and withholding (you are trying to keep from me something that I need to be whole). There's definitely a sense of envy in the song...I wish I could be like everyone else. But I'm not. 

Aside from the whole island of misfit toys vibe, there is often something else at such concerts that I too often find missing from church, or really any Christian communion: joy. The joy of musicians playing together, taking pleasure in one another's talents, spurring one-another to do better and go higher. Joy in finally releasing or giving expression to something that has been held in or held in check. Emily mentioned being thankful because the IG had played Durham "not that long ago" and yet "you came back." So it's not just joy in the audience, it was the joy of performing and of being welcome, being wanted. That's a powerful lure, whether you are famous or just a person.

Anyhow, it was a delightful show, and I was surprised to find going home that the IG had done a cover of "Romeo & Juliet" from Dire Straits on their fourth album, so I think I need to order that. 



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