What Happens When The Music “Hits Deep?”

TobyMac “Hits Deep Tour”


Emma Janney

Green and gold and purple confetti explodes into the arena as fans join TobyMac on stage at The Hits Deep Tour 2017.

On February 17, 2017 TobyMac and the Diverse City Band played a concert at the Ted Constant Center in Norfolk, Virginia and I had was able to go and jam out with some of the best Christian artists.

At most concerts the concession are all the same: hot dogs, pretzels, nachos, bottles of water, etc. However, at the “Hits Deep Tour”, the concessions are given a twist. One of the items was called “TobyMac and Cheese”, a pun that I personally admired. This was no ordinary Mac and Cheese dish, it was deep fried in batter (that tasted similar to that of the chicken tenders I had later) on the outside, and on the inside my mouth was greeted by smooth gooey cheese and soft well-cooked noodles. There was also a deal on a sampler platter, which included the Mac and Cheese bites, hush puppies, chicken tenders, and french fries for 12 dollars. The food at the concert was just about as good as the performers.

The show opened with Hollyn, a Christian Pop artist, at about 6:30pm. During her set she performed very well with a lot of energy, but the crowd was not very enthused. She sang three songs and then introduced the next act, Capital Kings. The electronic pop Christian band had strobe lights and smoke that gave their act a very rock-y vibe. After Capital Kings played the crowd was getting excited, anticipating who was next to come. Once the duo left the main stage, Ryan Stevenson took the secondary stage where he sang his hit song “Eye of the Storm.” During the song, Gabe Patillo, background singer to the DiverseCity band, joined Stevenson. By the end of his set almost the entire arena was standing up and singing with the artists. Before he left, Stevenson introduced B. Haley, the drummer for The Diverse City band, who jumped onto the secondary stage to speak to the crowd about a movement he had started called “We Are 1.” The movement was created to teach Christians that they should live a life powered by love. The speech Haley gave led into the next act, a husband and wife duo called Seth and Nirva. The pair sang a song entitled “Brother”; it was about how even though you may be fighting someone, they are still your brother, no matter their background. The song had a powerful message, that I think everyone should hear especially in this day and age with all of the violence and hate spreading throughout the world.

The next act, Mandisa,  performed on the main stage and sang five upbeat and happy songs. During her set, Mandisa had backup dancers on stage behind her, which is something I had never seen before at a Christian concert. It was really cool to see someone, that I have grown up watching, bringing a pop/rock feel to a Christian concert.

After Mandisa, Mac Powell, the lead singer from Third Day, took to his place on the secondary stage. Third Day is a Christian band with over 25 years of experience. Mac Powell sang various genres of music, including one of his own country songs called “Run Out Of Love.” He also sang some songs from Third Day, such as “God of Wonders”, “I Need A Miracle”, and “Soul On Fire.” It was neat to see that even in Christian music band members work on solo projects, like in other music genres.

Then Matt Maher took the main stage to sing with his guitar and piano. Maher sang “Because He Lives”, “All the People Said Amen”, and “Your Grace Is Enough.” Maher is very talented at playing piano, he played so beautifully and his fingers moved with such elegance and grace it was mesmerizing to watch. However, I often found myself looking more at the piano and focusing less on the song.

At about 9:00, TobyMac took the main stage to start his set. He opened with his song “Like A Match” with fun purple, green, and yellow stage lights, they reminded me of Mardi Gras. TobyMac had a very entertaining performance with the Diverse City Band playing trumpets in a synchronized movement. Hollyn came back out to sing “Backseat Driver” with TobyMac because she was featured on the track.”Backseat Driver” is my favorite song by TobyMac because it is a Christian song that does not sound traditional. Matt Maher also joined him on stage, as did Mandisa.

Mandisa and TobyMac have recorded many songs together. “Lose My Soul” is one of their collaborations, in fact TobyMac performed it accompanied by Mandisa. When TobyMac sang “Love Broke Thru” the music video was playing on the big screens behind the stage. The video was really interesting to watch, but I wish they did not put in the bits where the camera was on TobyMac in the video because the video was lagging behind the microphone the singer was using. I think the tech crew should have either taken out the pieces where TobyMac was in the center of the video or slowed down the video just enough to make the mouths move in time with the music.  TobyMac then went onto perform some of his classic hits, including “Eye On It”, “Steal My Show”, “Lose My Soul”, and “Catchafire.” During “Catchafire” the singer sang while doing choreography with Nirva Ready and Gabe Patillo. Their dancing was awesome because they did a wave-like jump and they were all in sync with each other so the dance looked really smooth and clean.

Emma Janney

My favorite song performed was “Backseat Driver.”  The song is about living life in the backseat and letting God drive, which is a good message to young teens because more often than not teenagers think they can do anything without help, but by listening to this song it could show teens that sometimes they need help to see which path they should take when living their life. TobyMac closed the show with his song “Feel It.” During this song he had Hollyn come back on stage to sing with him.

The show ended with a similar set of Mardi Gras themed lights that were present at beginning of the show. For the absolute grand finale TobyMac brought everyone from his “meet and greet” before the show on stage to dance with him. While they were all on stage together, loads of green and gold confetti were shot out in front of the green, yellow, and purple lights, which was quite eye catching.

As a person who has grown up going to Christian concerts, I would have to say that the TobyMac Hits Deep Tour was my favorite. I enjoyed it because it was like nothing I had ever seen before. It was so different than shows like Winter Jam (a concert where 10 Christian artists come and play) and Glory in the Gardens (a summer concert series at Busch Gardens where different Christian artists perform), because the artists had backup dancers and choreography – something that does not normally happen at Christian concerts. My favorite part of the concert was when TobyMac had other artists join him on stage during his set to sing collaborations.