March 6, 2020 – just over a year ago – marks the last time I stood in a live music venue and joined a chorus of other voices in singing our favorite songs together. No one could have known that only a few days later, the world would go into lockdown and the music industry as we knew it would be put on indefinite hiatus. For the last year, concerts only happened behind a screen, voices sang along in their own homes, and live music was painfully on pause…until last night.
March 12, 2021 – this weekend – marks the first time I stood in a live music venue and joined a chorus of other voices in singing our favorite songs together, post-pandemic. And it was more beautiful than I even have words for.
NEEDTOBREATHE, a self-proclaimed “rock-and-roll band from South Carolina,” though not distinctly labeling themselves as a Christian band, often write songs that talk about the wonder and challenges of faith. While the band wouldn’t necessarily call themselves worship leaders, the few hundred people who (masked, socially distanced, safely) gathered at The Caverns in Pelham, Tennessee, this weekend experienced just that: worship.
With songs like “Garden” and “Multiplied” on the set list, NEEDTOBREATHE used their first night back on a stage in over a year to unite a field full of fans in praise to the God who has carried us through every difficulty of that last year.
I loved the Zoom concerts so many artists turned to after touring shut down because of COVID, and it was absolutely better than having no music during the last twelve months…but it wasn’t the same. Of all the things I’ve missed during the pandemic, the experience of singing together with friends and strangers at a concert is high on the list. And getting to return to that last night, even in socially distanced pods and spread out across a field in the woods, made my heart so full.
I smiled from the first second the band took the stage, and the sound of the crowd cheering nearly brought me to tears. The first time Bear backed away from the microphone so we could hear only the voices, I closed my eyes and just listened. And in that moment, I realized what I had missed so much about the whole thing: the way music unites us.
In a year filled with so much division on every side, music offers us the chance to come together under the banner of a common love. A lyric, a song, a band, a theme. At a show, for even just a few hours, we put all our differences aside and raise our voices in unison. It’s a beautiful thing, and last night it finally got to happen again after far too long of a silence.
It might look different for a while, but live music is slowly returning. And with it, we can all take a collective exhale as we realize the world is slowly returning to some sense of normalcy too.
Sitting in an open field under the Tennessee stars, we lifted this song together: “God of mercy, sweet love of mine / I have surrendered to Your design / May this offering stretch across the skies / And these hallelujahs be multiplied.“
May our multiplied hallelujahs continue to unite us in whatever challenges and victories lie ahead.
How does your March 2021 look compared to March 2020?
What have you learned over the last year?
Have you been able to attend any concerts yet?