Lady Jane and I attended the Mercy Me concert at Parkview Field in Fort Wayne last night. It's the first "Christian" concert we had been to in quite some time. Not that we haven't been to other concerts by "Christians" or at "Christian" venues, but if you've ever been to a "Christian concert" you know what I mean. People were there with their "Christian" apparel on, and big church groups and youth groups and whatnot; people acting strange. And I'm sure it was just our imagination, but we both commented to one another that we seemed very *conspicuous* there. It was like everybody kept looking at us. I don't know if they could read our minds or what, but it was weird; and I felt bad about my attitude.
I had debated on whether to even go or not. I already had the Christian-concert bias, and I knew there might be a chance of rain, so I waited until Thursday afternoon to buy the tickets. At least they were only $11 (unlike the $75 for some other Christian artists). And, I really don't know any Mercy Me songs other than "I Can Only Imagine" and one other one that I can't remember the name of. But I've kinda always liked what I've heard about them, and I thought it might do us good to go to something like this. I just didn't really want to hear the preaching blah, and have to deal with an altar call and all that crap that used to go on at so many of these things.
Anyway, we went out to eat; and of course it started drizzling rain as we headed downtown. So I thought I would kinda drive around and try to get us a good parking spot. Geezaroo... a half hour before it was to start there were just people EVERYWHERE. Well, I finally figured out that they were only using the main entrance. But still, people were there EARLY. So, since they were only using the south entrance, we headed south of the stadium. I didn't want to park in the garage, and several of the lots were either full or blocked off, but just to the west of C2G we saw a little lot that was $3. As soon as we pulled in the guy told us it was full though. So we drove through to turn around, and as we were leaving he said, "Hey, wait a minute. I'll go move my car and you can park there." That was mighty nice of him, so we got a primo spot that was even kinda out of the rain.
I had brought a blanket for sitting on the field, but since it was raining we left that in the car. Instead we broke out the old $1 ponchos. Jane's was red and mine was orange. We were quite a pair. But at least we stayed dry. I still could not believe how many people were inside when we got there. I guess I just didn't think very many people would come to this. But we walked in, stood under the canopy for a bit, then walked down the first-base side of the concourse. There were two benches along there (beside the indoor batting/pitching cages), and someone just got up as we were getting there, so we sat down on a bench the entire time. It was great. We were just under the eave of the building, so we didn't get wet, we had a good view of the big screen, and sometimes we could even see the stage. Plus the first base restrooms and concession stand were just past us, so we got to do a lot of people-watching.
I did see quite a few people I knew. And Mark Mellenger (from channel 15) had on the same shoes as me. :) But still, this is when we finally commented to one another that it seemed like everyone kept looking at us. And I don't just mean glancing, it was like every time I looked up someone was STARING at me. I thought it might have been the ponchos, but there were plenty of other people wearing them too. So I don't know what was going on. In fact, at one point, one of the security guards stopped and sat down beside us and just said, "How are you kids doing?" We chatted for a bit, and he was nice, but I didn't see him stop and talk to anyone else. It was just a very bizarre feeling.
Anyway, the opening band was Attaboy (or something). I had heard of them. They're from Huntington University (Carrie's alma mater), although they must have a song on the radio now or something. I'm not a very good judge of such things, but they kind of reminded me of the Jonas Brothers or something - even though I wouldn't know the Jonas Brothers, or their music, if I saw/heard them. That's just what I thought of. I guess they were ok. Then they did all the hokey giving away of prizes and stupid stuff while re-setting up the stage for Mercy Me. I thought it took an awful LONG time. But Mercy Me finally came out. And it was actually better than I expected. They did talk quite a bit between songs, and they had to take an intermission, but they seemed pretty down to earth. They talked about how they made a conscious decision to keep ticket prices low, and all their cd's were only $5 and stuff. They said it would seem odd to ask you to come worship God with them, but then not be able to pay your phone bill. And I can really appreciate that. They seemed fairly real about things. I liked that. And even though the guy did a fair amount of preaching, it wasn't all hokey and contrived like so many of these things used to be. Not too much anyway. And, at one point, they shut down the music, and it was just getting dark, and from where we were you could look out over the lights of downtown Fort Wayne, and they had the audience sing "Amazing Grace" accapella... And my heart was warmed. It was one of those holy moments. There is nothing like a stadium crowd singing in rain and darkness one of the most beautiful songs of all time. It was then that I was glad I had come. Interestingly enough, while we were all singing Amazing Grace one of the hospital helicopters flew by. So I hope a few prayers went up as well.
Later on they sang the other song I had heard of... something like "Word of God, speak" or something. I like that song. And when they started singing "I Can Only Imagine" m'lady and I knew it was about over, so we got up and left before everyone else. It had been good, we didn't want to ruin it.
There was one point though where we were totally bad. When Mercy Me started, these three ladies got up just behind the seats - and right in front of us across the concourse walkway - and they started DANCING. And these were middle-aged women, who should not have been dancing; and they were jumping up and down, and running around in circles, and high-fiving each other, and raising their arms up and all this stuff. And we kinda lost it. I felt the bench start to shake and Jane had to cover her head with her poncho she was laughing so hard, and so was I. It was hilarious. But we felt bad just openly laughing at them, especially because no one else seemed to even notice. Man... it was bad though. I thought we were going to have to leave for awhile. Maybe that's another reason everyone kept looking at us, I don't know. Anyway, it was funny.
All in all it was a good night though. It quit raining partway through the show, and it was a beautiful night for an outdoor concert. And let me say again - whoever decided to put this baseball stadium downtown is a GENIUS in my book. I think this is one of the best things that's happened to Fort Waye in a long, long time. Kudos. I love it! I can't wait for more concerts at Parkview Field.