Back just after Thanksgiving when I heard about the concert and determined that it was the night before I was leaving for SMOFcon and could easily go, I cleared it with Tara and bought myself a ticket. I'd have loved to take her, but she has to work very early in the morning and wouldn't have been able to stay up until after 10:30. Similarly, we still cannot leave Derrick alone at night, and there was no way we could take him to a concert that starts after his weekday bed time.
I got to the church well before the concert, and was quickly directed to the parking. The concert was held in the smaller (by a bit) of the two "mega-churches" in the Northwest Suburbs -- Life Changers, which is smaller than Willow Creek. Their main auditorium probably holds about 3,000-5,000 (or at least some of the comments at the concert lead me to believe that they sold about 3,000 tickets and the house was mostly full). I found a seat in the center a few rows back -- I'd paid more to sit further forward which my eyes were glad about, even if my ears weren't.
On time the Jars of Clay portion of the concert began. I was somewhat disappointed since they just seemed to play through their new Christmas Album in order. While their playing was solid, and sounded very good, there wasn't as much energy as I would have liked. The audience sat though their entire set, and there wasn't much raising of hands in praise. (If you aren't familiar with Christian Concerts, it is very common for members of the audience to become what my mom refers to as "trees" by raising their hands in praise during some of the songs).
After intermission and the necessary reset of the stage, Third Day came out and did their set. They were on and the spirit was present. Although they mostly did stuff from their Christmas Offering album released last year, it was interspersed with many of their classic praise songs. Mac Powell -- their lead singer -- was encouraging the audience to sing along (and lyrics were provided for many of the songs). At times it almost felt like they'd stop in a song or two to allow the preacher to come out.
After the Third Day set, both bands came out together for an encore (except for the drummer for Jars of Clay). In the encore set, they performed a medley of an older Third Day song I'm not familiar with and Jars' first big (Christian) hit, "Love Song for a Savior." However, the lead vocals swapped. Since I wasn't familiar with the Third Day song, it didn't sound that strange with Dan Haseltine (Jars' lead singer) taking lead, but "Love Song for a Savior" was a bit odd with Mac Powell on lead. (Mac Powell has a distinctively gruff baritone voice).
Knowing that the concert would probably be louder that I'm comfortable with, I brought some hearing protection along in the form of 2 pairs of ear plugs. I put them in right at the beginning of the Jars of Clay set, and removed them at the beginning of the intermission. I started to put them back in for the Third Day set, but discovered that I cannot sing comfortably with them in. I'm not sure if it is because they block my own voice, or because they alter it oddly. I did, however, notice a similar effect recently when I had to use the old ClearCom full (single) ear muffs during a service, so it isn't just caused by having something inside the ear.
Now, if I could just get the iPod to sync so I can shut down the computer and go to bed.