tobyMac: Live last night


Live Last Night

By Mark Jenkins

Remember when so-called Bible thumpers considered rock-and-roll the devil's music? That rebuke was inoperative Saturday night at the Patriot Center, where Christian performer tobyMac delighted a sell-out crowd with a different sort of thumping. He calls his style "urban rock," and it blends brisk rapping and slamming guitar with strands of funk, reggae and pop-gospel.

(Dropping a joy bomb and "wearing tighter jeans than Elvis ever dared," after the jump.)

A Northern Virginia native who came to prominence 20 years ago with dcTalk, tobyMac fronts a crack band and runs an energetic show. Four of the six musicians accompanying Mac were on a high riser, so as to not get in the way as he and three other vocalists rocketed around the stage like a slightly better-choreographed Beastie Boys. Wearing tighter jeans than Elvis ever dared, Mac explained that the group was there to "drop a joy bomb on Fairfax, Virginia."

Aside from praising God, Mac extolled understanding and inclusiveness -- his mostly African American band is named for one of the songs it performed, "Diverse City." Indeed, Mac seemed to embrace almost everything, from the Ohio Players' "Love Rollercoaster" to the identity-theft-protection company whose video ads ran alongside snippets from timeworn holiday TV shows. One of the evening's biggest ovations was not for Mac's new single, "City on Our Knees," but for Linus's "Charlie Brown Christmas" reading from the gospel of Luke.

The headliner was preceded by three acts that record for his label, Gotee: hip-hopper B.Reith, goth-rocker Stephanie Smith and emo-punk band Relient K.

Smith announced that her "favorite way to praise Him is through music" and then performed not "Amazing Grace" but "I Love Rock and Roll." Relient K interspersed its originals with testimonies to Jesus and an arrangement of "Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas" that recalled Sid Vicious's "My Way" -- but without the snarl, of course.

By David Malitz |  November 23, 2009; 2:40 PM ET Live Last Night
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