The Lo-Fi David Crowder Band

David Crowder* Band rocked 1st Baptist in Huntsville last night. It was an awesome time of worship and hanging with my team. Oddly enough this was actually my first time seeing DC*B live. Going into the show, I didn’t fully know what to expect. What I saw both amused and inspired me.

These Hi-Fi Guys

David Crowder Band is known for being avant garde. Not only do they push the boundaries of how to compose a worship song but they also make use of a random smattering of instruments not normally known in the realms of rock. The list includes a keytar, turn tables, a Mac running Ableton Live, a theremin, violins, a modded guitar hero controller, and the mysterious blinking noise box. In fact, their drummer runs an online forum dedicated to the strange sounds produced by the technological wizardry of David Crowder Band. All of this musical geeky know-how leads one to ask,

What about the lights and media?

Surprisingly enough, this super teched out group went ultra sparse when it came to lights and media. A mere 16 PAR cans adorned the lighting racks; 8 up top to front light, and 8 on stage as blinders and back lighting. A single old-school pull down screen showed a super lo-fi version of lyrics, with no visuals at all, simply white words on utilitarian black. Noticeably absent were any type of smart lights or real-time manipulatable graphic displays.

After witnessing this barren state of tech a few thoughts come to mind:

  • Maybe they scaled down for a small venue Huntsville show.
  • Maybe the real gear broke down moments before I arrived.
  • Maybe after paying for Ableton Live and a Noise Box they ran out of money.
  • Maybe I shouldn’t expect hi fidelity lighting from a guy who blogs on xanga.

Although there are many options, I believe their choice of minimalistic visual tech was more intentional.

3 Benefits of Less Visual Tech

1. Less visual tech accentuates the musical prowess.

I’m sure if DC*B put out an ad for a visual effects designer they’d get responses from all the top guys in the field. But then you’d leave the show all excited about the cool lights and not so impressed by the keytar. The plain white words on a poorly run power point underscores the instrumental mastery on stage.

2. Less visual tech equals more power.

Simple doesn’t mean powerless. In fact in Crowder’s case simple made a deeper impression. I found myself thinking more about the words and being more impacted by the words because they were so simply displayed. Even a classy background graphic would have distracted from that, never mind a wild-ADD-inducing video.

Because the lights were used sparingly for effect, when they were used they created a dramatic impact. There was slight coordination between the lights and the music throughout the set, but during “You Are My Joy” the lighting really made the song. The first three repetition of the line “You are my joy” were sung with building music to low light and then on the fourth “joy!” the blinders kicked up to full as people screamed at the top of their lungs. My view of the band was hidden by the silhouette of raised hands. This less-is-more moment became one of my favorite all night.

3. Less visual tech means a more creative Crowder.

Going slim on the visual tech allows the guys in the the band to focus on what they are truly good at: musical creativity. If they spent time inventing ways to create a cool visuals they’d probably come up with amazing stuff, but they wouldn’t have as much time to tinker with audio loops and video game controllers.

The Local Church Implications

  • Ditch the fancy graphics in favor of white on black text for a powerful focus on the words.
  • Do a few things great instead of many things mediocre.
  • Don’t let a lack of resources stunt the creativity. Much can be done with little and less can be more.

10 Responses to “The Lo-Fi David Crowder Band”

  1. 1 Jay Sellers June 14, 2008 at 7:07 pm

    Read his books yet? Dude is way more A.D.D. than your average 100 pound fro headed worship leader. Even the least amount of lights keep him shocked enough to focus on finishing a set.

  2. 2 Billy Chia June 14, 2008 at 8:23 pm

    No, I haven’t checked out any of Crowder’s books yet. In which one does he talk about the lights aggravating his ADD?

  3. 3 Jay Sellers June 14, 2008 at 11:00 pm

    Totally made that up. That’s the impression that I got from reading the books. I started with Praise Habit: Finding God In Sunsets And Sushi. I actually like the “web” style of thinking. He writes the same way on his blog. He’ll change the subject mid…hey, there’s a chicken!

  4. 4 Daniel Tomlinson June 15, 2008 at 1:58 pm


    I love you brother. Thanks for letting God use you the way He does. That blog really encouraged me.

    It inspires me in my own desire to lead people in worship. I am seeking to draw people into the presence of God. I can do that with Chris Tomlin, Matt Redman and Michael W. Smith, or a campfire and my guitar can draw them and me equally as powerful as an incredible powerpoint display at Willow Creek.

    Keep it up my bro!

  5. 5 Brody June 16, 2008 at 5:27 am

    You nailed it. Crowder does that all intentionally. He’s a pretty brilliant guy. Careful on the “poorly run power point” though. His wife runs them… every show.

    Amen to the Xanga comment though… I’m still working on him.

  6. 6 Ryan June 16, 2008 at 8:39 am


    Thanks for this recap. Great stuff. I especially loved your implications for the local church.

  7. 7 Peter Park June 16, 2008 at 8:53 am

    David is an awesome worship leader. I will take your words of wisdom to heart as I plan future services.

  8. 8 Jan Owen June 16, 2008 at 9:25 am

    I think we try to do alot of things we really are not good at either. David Crowder and his band have learned to focus on their strengths – music and leading worship. I think we could learn from his doing what he’s good at and letting God speak. To be honest, as a worship leader, I get really tired at times of having to worry about all the other stuff. It boxes me in a bit and I wonder if we give people too much visual noise when what I most want is for them to hear from God, not me. Makes me think…..

    Sorry I missed you at the show. I looked for you.

  9. 9 Billy Chia June 16, 2008 at 12:24 pm

    Right on, “poorly run” is probably harsh and not quite representative of what occurred. What I saw throughout the show were times when the words didn’t sync or were late on the screen. For the most part it was on.

    Actually Mrs. Crowder did do some tech stuff that I thought should be emulated. When a “wrong” slide went up she left it there. Instead of flipping quickly through 5 slides trying to find her place, she left the wrong slide up and then caught up on the next slide. This seemed way less distracting and a much better way to handle mistakes than “fast clicking” to the right spot.

    Yeah I was looking for you guys too. We’ll set up a Huntsville Worship Leaders meeting soon.

  10. 10 debbie d June 16, 2008 at 3:02 pm

    Hi Billy,
    Just wanted to shout out to you, and express my thanks for you using your gifts in a remarkable, and so informative way. I look forward to your blogs, and also checking out the other blogs of people committed to Christ in the most real ways. We haven’t been to church in a few weeks, but look forward to worshipping with you this coming Sunday. Thanks for the hard/dedicated/excellent work you do. That scripture”Be excellent in all you do”, totally applies!

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