Music: Go Fish

About ten years ago, some friends of ours in Michigan introduced us to the music of Go Fish. The group quickly became a favorite with our family, especially my husband and older son. I’ve always preferred instrumental music to vocal, and I have more trouble appreciating the close harmonies commonly used by acapella groups, but I certainly preferred Go Fish to some other contemporary Christian groups.

A few years ago, my husband was thrilled to find out that Go Fish was performing in the Quad Cities, and we purchased tickets for him and our older son to go to the concert. They returned with a pile of CDs they had purchased and the surprising news that Go Fish now creates music primarily for children. I would have said exclusively, but while it is aimed at children it is also intended to be enjoyed by the children’s parents. As they put it, it’s “great music for kids that won’t drive parents bonkers.”

When we found out they were giving a concert in Muscatine, naturally we wanted tickets. As the tickets were free, that was even more of an incentive. Of course, when tickets are free, a concert like that is quickly “sold out” (we got three of the last seven tickets). We made a point to arrive half an hour early for the concert yesterday, and the line of people waiting to get in already stretched half a block.

I had expected local families to come with their children, and perhaps groups from local churches. I hadn’t realized just how many groups would drive from an hour or two away with a large group of children. I’m sure well over half the audience was children, many of them with name tags hanging on a string around their necks to help the adult leaders keep track of them all.

Later, I found a description of their concerts at ChristianMusic.com, explaining that “For children, Go Fish may be their first real concert experience, complete with lights, backdrops and fog machines.” Hmm, I never knew that real concerts required fog machines. (My first impression when I saw the strange white mist coming up from one machine was that it had overheated or otherwise malfunctioned.) My idea of a “real concert” has more to do with an orchestra conductor wielding a baton (and usually wearing a tux, but I would consider that optional).

I was disappointed to see that the group was not performing a capella. They had a drummer (whose drum set must be illuminated from inside – it would occasionally light up in different colors) and two guys playing electric guitar. I have nothing against instruments – as I said above, I prefer instrumental music – but somehow drums and electric guitars always end up being too loud. I could barely make out more than a few of the words on most of the songs.

But the kids were clearly having a great time. Many of them knew the songs, probably from having them played over and over in the CD player in their parents’ cars. (One of the Go Fish guys explained that is one big reason they make these albums, since parents are going to have to have some kind of music for the kids, and so much of the kids’ music is so annoying to the parents.) They sang along, did motions to the songs, and went nuts at some of the extra special effects.

I was curious, when one of the Go Fish guys gave a brief salvation message, whether it was aimed more toward the kids or their parents. As brief as he was, I suspect he had lost a lot of the kids’ attention by the time he got to that point (after telling the parents a bit about why they do what they do). But it was very clear that this is definitely a ministry to them, to reach children with the truth of the Gospel. They emphasized the importance of the Bible, to the point of saying at one point that if there was one song that kids were going to learn the lyrics of, they wanted it to be the one that simply lists the names of all the books of the Bible.

If you have kids, check out the group’s music for children. They also have put out some VBS curricula, which I suspect have much more “singable” songs than a lot of VBS programs I’ve been involved in. While I can’t say I really enjoyed the concert yesterday, I think the albums they have put out are good, and their message is certainly good.

I have to wonder, though – was I the only one in the audience who had to keep shutting my eyes when one of the spotlights (there were four of these which frequently changed color, and instead of being trained on the singers were constantly moving around the room) was aimed right at me?

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