Pet peeve of the day

From a charter member of Avery’s Friends, the ever observant SR writes to vent:

have you been to a lot of shows where the groups have implemented multimedia (basically souped up powerpoint or video clips)? i went to the second one of these last night and confirmed that i absolutely hate it. when i pay to go to a concert i am paying to see the artists sing, not watch a powerpoint presentation or some clips from a previously released religious film. i find it INCREDIBLY distracting and last night, as during the last concert i attended with this little innovation, i left with a terrible headache. the most awful thing last night was that in one of the slideshows whomever had created the presentation neglected to look up the spelling of “Ezekiel” and thus it was there on a huge screen in bold letters as “Ezekial.”

i found this annoying at nqc, but there are screens up there with images of the artists flashing constantly anyway so that wasn’t nearly as bad as being in a church or an auditorium with less than 200 people and having to deal with it. and last night was worse because the standard auditorium house lighting was on the entire time and so there was a terrible glare on the screen throughout. also if one group is going to use it then so be it, but turn it off when the other groups aren’t using it. the group with the slideshow was third on the program and so i had to sit through two other groups who had no visuals but the projector was left on and through the first group there was a blue screen with an occasional error message popping up and on the second there was a stock Microsoft screen saver which really almost drove me into a fugue state. and what is worse, i was told that the non-visual groups had no control over whether or not this projector was left on.

i realize we can’t go to church now without looking up on the wall to sing our songs and hear our announcements and whatnot, but if the whole point of a southern gospel concert is to HEAR the singers perform, why do i want to look at a screen the whole night?

I blame the Hoppers. They may not have started this nonsense, but they sure did flog it shamelessly, most recently at NQC last year with their self-congratulatory “making of The Ride” video montage. They’re certainly not the only ones though. The Talleys have done it. The Pfieffers too, if I recall rightly. Most recently in my experience, Karen Peck and New River munged up their set at the Harmony Honors in April with a poorly synced series of video clips from Mel Gibson’s crucifixion porn Passion of the Christ playing along while KPNR sang “Last Night.” (Aside: do you think these groups pay royalties on the use of copyrighted film footage?) Note to KPNR: when you’re singing about the resurrected Savior’s victory over death, try not to show pictures of him being nailed to the cross and writhing in bloody pain and gory agony. Sort of undercuts the song’s ultimate victorious conclusion.

My own sense is that these videos are just another way for increasingly automated southern gospel acts to distract from the fact that very little live music is happening on the stage in front of the audience.

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Comments

  1. Adam wrote:

    I first remember the Talley Trio doing this at NQC a few years back. It was distracting then. It is annoying now.

    I applaud groups trying something new… However, you know that next month all “Flat Freddie and the HalfTones” groups will be trying the same mess at their local concerts. Local groups should stick to ripping off Gaither/Lowry/Younce jokes.

    Regardless, think of the money that groups like the Hoppers sink into those montages to “supplement” their concerts. How could that cash be more wisely invested?

  2. Tim wrote:

    People have been wanting more innovation in Southern Gospel Music and now that something new is being tried, people are knocking it. Some folks just can’t be satisfied.

  3. Charles Brady wrote:

    If it is done well I think it can add to the concert experience. I have seen the Hoppers use it and to be honest I think it was done very well. Michael Hopper is excellent at video production work and I think the Hops have done a first class job at every event I have ever seen them at.

    Something else to consider is that some of the lighting/audio companies are beginning to use this type thing when shooting for the live screens. Again done tastefully it can add to the experience but I do often wonder how much of the time we spend watching the screen VS watching the stage?

    That said I have seen some that made me cringe and hang my head in shame that a group would use such low quality equipment and poor quality video. Note to groups… Youtube quality video doesn’t work well when blown up on the big screen with a low budget projector. If you’re going to do it please do it right. Sometimes less really is more. And please don’t distract from another groups set with your blank screens. If I were the promoter or pastor you wouldn’t be invited back again. That is just rude.

    You know back in the day ole Dale Shelnut could hold you spellbound for his entire set and I could never imagine a time when extra video would have made it any better than it was. Those guys knew how to get it done! Without fancy orchestrations or special lighting effects or digitally enhanced music they held this (then 25 year old) spellbound with just four voices a piano & a bass guitar. And when I was leaving the concert I bought every album I could get my hands on!

    We’ve come a long way but sometimes I do wonder about the roads we took!

  4. quartet-man wrote:

    I have made and used some PowerPoint presentations for choir songs or special music on special occasions. It can add to the song, but like said before if it is done right. I also think use it sparingly when it will add, not all of the time because you can. Out of 2 songs a week at church for about 5 years, I’ve probably used it way less than a dozen times total and maybe even less than 6. (Excluding single picture slides for each song in a cantata.)

  5. Aaron Swain wrote:

    I imagine groups would have to pay royalties to use clips from movies and such, that is if they were going to use decent quality video instead of Youtube crap. Anything for the film industry to get a bit more cash.

  6. RF wrote:

    I often wonder why we have to have something other than the music? I often wonder why people singing isn’t enough?

    The local Easter Cantata featured a Power Point presentation and as I looked out at the crowd, everyone was watching the big screen and discussing the show and not listening to the music. Kind of defeats the purpose, don’t you think?

  7. St wrote:

    This reminds me of what a former Kingsmen musician told me. He said the Goodmens used to come on with the house lights off and using spotlights. Then when Hamil and the Kingsmen hit the stage, Hamil would say, “Turn the house lights on and turn off that spotlight; this ain’t no night club!”

    I agree that the whole powerpoint presentation is annoying. It is especially annoying when the singers are singing with dead singers on the video.

    Full-time singers are singing so much that they get bored with their own program and the programs of other groups that are doing the same things basically. So they come up with these “cool ideas” that makes them different and stand out. BUT - when everybody starts doing the latest “cool idea”, we’re back to getting bored with it because we’ve been there and done that — next new side show please!

  8. CVH wrote:

    With regard to the use of any copyrighted work, certainly one as prominent as ‘Passion of the Christ’, a licensing agreement and usage fee would absolutely have to be in place for any clips to be used legally. Let’s hope the Hoppers did it the right way.

    It’s no different than local churches using clips from TV shows or films as sermon illustrations, etc. They often claim the ‘fair use’ exception in the copyright law. But ‘fair use’ does not cover many of the ways churches (or groups) often use copyrighted material, and the notion that they would have to seek permission and possibly pay royalties either doesn’t occur to them or is a legality they blithely ignore because, as I’ve heard it put several times, “we’re doing it for the Lord.” Tell that to the $250 an hour LA lawyers who come knocking on your door with a copyright infringement suit. A simple C&D letter may work but often I’ve seen Christian entities thumb their nose at copyright issues as though they’re somehow above the law. It’s especially ironic in the case of groups who then get mad at people who burn copies of their product for friends, etc.

  9. GospelMusicFan wrote:

    Don’t blame the Hoppers.
    They are good people and creative, too.

  10. Diva0427 wrote:

    There is a write way and a very WRONG way to use media during a concert setting. Unfortunately, people do not take the time to educate themselves on the proper use of media. I say this b/c I did media for our church for a number of years, and it burns me up every time it isn’t done correctly. If you want to use a video/picture behind your song, make sure that it adds and not detracts. Case in Point: As much as I LOVE the song “Preach the Word” by Gold City, the video that they used to go with it SUCKS. But that’s just IMHO. It is not at all well made, and when they start flashing pictures up of pastors that have gone on to be with the Lord, or are still out there preaching, it really made no sense with the song. I mean, I get it…but it was extremely distracting. And folks, when using Power Point, QUIT with the twirling or animated graphics. Seriously…those aren’t cool.

    *stepping down off soap box*

  11. Diva0427 wrote:

    And I cannot spell today…there is a RIGHT way, not write. My bad.

  12. apathetic wrote:

    Once again, this is an appeal to a younger audience. Secular music has been doing this for over a decade with much success. Some SG acts are just trying to enhance the concert experience. It is something that has to be done well. But I suppose that most of the old cratchety crowd would still gripe and whine about it then too.

  13. Casually Unobservant wrote:

    I don’t know that the contemporary or secular acts are copying the cheesy powerpoint thing, or at least I haven’t seen many of them. I’ve seen them use the actual music videos (not ripped-off Hollywood footage) on occasion, but most are investing in light arrays, fog machines, pyrotechnics (in the bigger arenas), and (gasp) live musicians. If they do have video screens, they’ll run a live video feed of the stage to the screen so people in the nosebleeds can see the show.

  14. Jason K wrote:

    I’m sure the misspelling of “Ezekiel” would drive anyone insane, leaving them with a wreathing headache….?

  15. Not Ernie Haase wrote:

    I saw Gold City use a powerpoint presentation once, but they only did it during “Preach the Word” and the screen was dark before and after that one song.

  16. Eric Kaunitz wrote:

    We have to face the fact that we live in a visual world. We don’t live in the world of radio anymore. Studies have shown that most people, and NOT just the young, respond more to visual imagery then ever before. It used to be fine for a male quartet to stand flat-footed around one mic and just sing. Now days we wouldn’t pay to go see two hours of that, although it is nice to see a group do that for a couple song just to be retro. We as SG lovers are always talking about a group or person’s stage presents…isn’t that just another form of ‘eye-candy’?
    Just because a few people have a problem with the reality of the Crucifixion (in reference to the “Mel Gibson’s crucifixion porn Passion of the Christ” comment), doesn’t mean that most others aren’t touched by it. These types of images can and do have a profound impact on people and can enhance the Gospel message…if it’s done right. I will agree that media can be a turn-off if done poorly or too much. You must select your moments carefully…and before you do it, be sure you choose the right software and know how to use the software. Just because you can insert a picture into a PowerPoint slideshow doesn’t mean that you are the next Hollywood movie producer.

    And, by the way, Mel Gibson does or did have a package that churches and other ministries could buy and publically show. So don’t just assume or imply that a group is being unlawful when showing it. The bias is just too obvious.

  17. bbq wrote:

    It’s amazing that Southern Gospel even exists today with as many gripers as we have that seem to follow the genre. Blame the Hoppers? For what? For some second rate group’s attempt to be like them? For some group’s poorly done video?

    HEY CLUADE! Yeah….they’re talking to you…..it’s your fault Claude that “Po Dunk Trio” decided to work up some shoddy video. How dare you Cluade!!!

    C’mon Doug! Give us all a break! Get off your high horse. If someone doesn’t like what someone else is doing I’ve two pieces of advice for you: 1) don’t go back to their concert 2) get off your booty and do something better. If you can’t then shut your mouth and vote with your feet!

    I’ve personally been to The Hoppers concert and The Talleys concert where both groups used video. I liked them both. I thought they were done tastefully and complimented the song and singers. I guess I would though since I’m half the age of the average Southern Gospel Concert attendee. I’ve got a couple of questions for you to pose in your next open thread, Doug. “What will the complaint department look like in Heaven?”…and…”How long do you think line will be when we get there?”

  18. Dexter wrote:

    Well..as a solo artist I find screens very helpful…I don’t care how good a voice you have…a solo artist on stage singing to tracks is the most BORING thing on earth…I don’t care who you are…Sandi Patty traveled with a nice multimedia set up on her Hymns tour and it was awesome…and like a previous poster said..people will complain about ANYTHING! Bunch of old ladies!!

  19. Chuck Stevens wrote:

    I often wonder if anyone else notices this but me. When karen Peck sings “Four days late” the guy who plays Jesus played on the HBO series “Six feet under” he has played some pretty seedy parts on tv. He is just an actor, but that’s all i could think of when i see that video in concert. I only watch the screen more if my seat is farther back. otherwise i watch the stage.

  20. buttercup wrote:

    bqb,
    Open Thread is still open
    qbb
    2 pieces of advice for you …
    bbq,
    Spelled it right once, din’t I?

  21. apathetic wrote:

    #13, you are more on point than I. I wasn’t saying that secular or contemporary acts were using glorified powerpoint presentations in concert. I simply meant the use of visual aides or implementations to enhance the concert experience. Most of your Southern Gospel acts, even those we would consider succesful, can’t touch the kind of budget that it takes Keith Urban or Brad Paisley to do their multimedia show. They are working with what they can afford. They are playing a 2,000 seat church, at best, not a 20,000 seat arena.

  22. Faith wrote:

    Multimedia? This is nothing new, folks. Anyone else remember when Gold City did the song “Only God Knows”? I went to a GC concert in the early ’90’s and they had a whole montage of pictures of kids laughing and playing during that song…
    It was very touching, and obviously tied into the song.

  23. wackythinker wrote:

    The biggest complaint I have with The Hoppers’ video presentation is that it appears to be nothing more than an infomercial. Or at least the one I saw at NQC last year was. It was footage from the recent videos they had for sale, even to the point of having the title of which video it was from along the bottom of the screen. And when they interspersed it with live feed, it was quite confusing. To me, at least.

    Was it live, or was it Memorex?

    At least when Gaither does it, it’s during a tribute to some of the singers who’ve passed away.

  24. gospelman21 wrote:

    I enjoy the videos and the Talley one with Jake Hess is a neat video and cool with him singing on the song with them.

    Another one from the past is Mike Bowlings video on the song “Thank God for the Preacher”.

  25. Kyle wrote:

    I remember Gold City using the projector at a show in Anderson, IN, in 2000. It was at the time that “Signed, Sealed, Delivered” was released.

    They put on a three hour show that night, and not one bit of it was distracting.

  26. studio chick wrote:

    The Crabb Family had screens and video when I saw them back in 1999 or 2000. I think they were the first SG group to have media. It was sparsely used, and I thought it was nice. I have been to see groups that thought more is good. Crabb Family seemed to think less is more.

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