You See, There's This Band Coming to Town...

...and I'm really excited about it.

Really, really, really excited.

Ever heard of Tenth Avenue North?

You haven't?


*starts throwing random Tenth Ave goodies at innocent don't know*

Here, watch this:

And take a look at this:

Yep. The Struggle Tour. Snazzy name, eh? Vaguely reminiscent of the title of their most recent studio release...

And you know what? While you're catching up on the last six or so missed years of your musical life (Tenth Ave's first studio album, Over and Underneath, was released in 2008), go ahead and watch this:

The Struggle Tour. Happening in a city near me (huzzah!) and, chances are, near you too. Scroll down the list, find the closest city, and skeddadle on over before you miss it. You won't regret it, I promise.

Now, you may be thinking: why should you care?

Ahem. Excuse you for having the audacity to ask that question. *adjusts spectacles to be more advantageous to peering-down-one's-nose*

But now, in all seriousness: that was a valid question. It would be my pleasure to answer it.

Boy-bands (or pop-rock bands in general) are a common cultural phenomenon. All you need is five guitarists (seven if you really want to make an impression), a hunky drummer, a melodramatic keyboardist, and a dynamic front man who can belt it WHILE clutching the microphone on its stand WHILE strumming away on his snazzy acoustic Hohner. I mean, it's so simple. You wonder why we don't have more of these pop icons showing up on a regular basis.

Oh, wait.

Never mind.

(I'm not even going to confess that One Direction just popped into my mind.)

But, all that say: bands these days tend to be overrated. Especially running around in Christian circles. Names like "Rugged Splinter" (an obvious reference to the cross), "Until You" (again, obviously a nudge at the salvation experience of the lead vocalist), and the ever-popular "Light" (because as a Christian, it's all about the light now, right?) are combined with v-neck tees, skinny dark-wash jeans, and I'm-so-cool-I-can't-smile expressions, and there ya' have it. The archetypical Christian band, redeemed and energetic and squeaky clean. They really have some fantastic lyrics, too; they tend to run along the lines of,

"I love You
I love You
I need You
I need You
I'm going to come alive
Because You

Deep stuff, you guys. My toes can't find their way out.

Ahhh, I'm sorry. The sarcasm is just too fun. I promise I'll stop now and get to my point...yeah...oh, no, wait, I've got it.

You see, in the days of stereotypical religion and the same songs that have simply been rewritten in several hundred variations, Tenth Avenue North is something new and fresh that hearkens back to days when quality came before quantity and words had more worth than filling up the next record contract. At the heart of the ministry of Tenth Avenue North is a desire to do something authentic, something real that leads listeners to experience God. Mike Donehey, the lead vocalist, guitarist, and head writer for the band, wrote rather profoundly:

What we’re hoping for with this music that we’re making is to not just entertain people. I think it’s safe to say that we already have plenty of that. What we’re wanting is to see people encounter truth. Remember, we all worked at a church for some time, and there we saw plenty of emotion. We saw plenty of people having a good time, but it wasn’t long until we realized that if emotion isn’t being evoked by truth, well, then it just doesn’t last. And we want this love in hearts to last. I guess you could say we’re done just trying to get emotional from blast beats and hip guitar lyrics. Instead, we desire to be cut to the heart. To be honest, genuine, and faithful to what we believe is truth.
(Source: Tenth Avenue

"Honest, genuine, and faithful."

I'm cool with that idea. In fact, I'm strongly supportive of that idea. When you have a band that says, "You know what? Enough with the emotionalism, enough with the trend-for-trend's-sake, enough with the popular concept of churchiness. Let's just be honest. Let's just be genuine. Let's just be faithful." Faithful to the truth of God's Word, not our concept of it. Faithful to the power of God that can change lives, not our charged emotionalism that squeezes out a tear or two. Faithful to the message of the cross, which demands nothing less that ultimate, overwhelming surrender.

Tenth Avenue North accomplishes this mission very well. Far from generic lyrics about an ambiguous "You" (in which the only indication that it's talking about God is the upper-cased "Y" in the liner notes), their songs are introspective, well-crafted, and insightful. They explore multiple facets of humanity - the struggle with sin; the redemption of our sin and poor choices; the deep love of God for us, His beloved; and forgiveness - with word choices that are reminiscent of A.W. Tozer or C.S. Lewis. They're beautiful, they're profound, and they're remarkable.

So go ahead and plunge into their music. Visit their website, listen to the music, and be sure to check the tour itinerary for an event happening near you!'s not enough to just say, "I believe,"
'Cause truth is that talk is cheap.
So grace, give me eyes to see.
You came to take us back to the start;
You came to touch the hardness of our hearts.
You gave us truth; that truth is Who You are
It's Who You are. 
 (Lyrics from "The Truth is Who You Are" by Tenth Avenue North on their sophomore album, "The Light Meets the Dark")



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