A Bittersweet Evening: Saying Farewell to Downhere

This week, the band downhere came to the end of their Living The Dream Farewell Tour, and I could not be more grateful to have been able to attend their second to last show of the tour in Williamsburg, VA on October 14th.  Since July, when the band announced their plans to finish touring and recording, I almost never even tried to wrap my mind around the reality that it was coming to an end.  I doubted I’d even be emotional at the Farewell show.  It shouldn’t come as any surprise that I was quite wrong about that!

It was such a delight to reunite with my dear downhomie friends, who have been present every time I’ve seen downhere live, and who I wouldn’t know nearly as much as I do if it wasn’t for downhere.  I met new friends as well; some who I’ve come to know online recently (again, because of downhere) and couldn’t wait to meet in person, and others who I’d only come to know for the first time that evening.  One of the many emotional aspects of the evening was looking back on how many special friendships of mine have been formed through mutual interests in downhere.  Friendships that have brought me so much joy, laughter, fun, encouragement, prayer, growth, and upbuilding fellowship.  I talked later with Jeremy Thiessen (drummer) about that special, instant community that comes with downhere fans; how it wasn’t the doing of the band, but God working through the band to create something huge, valuable, and lasting among people.

Performing live in Williamsburg on the Living The Dream Farewell tour

(Photos from the concert can be found here)

The show itself was completely incredible; everything we could have hoped for.  Everything sounded positively great.  The band gave it their all in every performance and played with maximum excellence, as always; I’ve never heard anything less from them live!  It was so exciting for us fans to hear them open with the classics “Starspin” and “Larger Than Life” (the latter being one of my personal favorites), and for me, to hear them play so many of the same songs they played the first time I saw them live two years ago.  Another thing that added to the emotion of the evening was simply watching and hearing the set;  being that this was my very last time seeing downhere in concert, I was compelled to ponder and take in each song that was played.  It would be the last time I would hear all these songs live, and I wanted these last times to be savored and thoroughly enjoyed.  This was where my denial of emotion came to an end.  The inclusion of “All At War” was the first thing to begin bringing me to tears (for which I was later teased by co-leadsinger Jason Germain), but I lost it when they played three songs back to back that have been of great, great comfort to me in trials and struggles; the tears came, doubled, and tripled when “Calmer of the Storm,” “Hope Is Rising,” and “Rest” were played.  I was moved again by the personal impact of the lyrics, and reminded of how God has used these songs in my life; reminded of his faithfulness in difficulties.  I could continue to go on and on about the excellence of the whole set, but I’ll wrap that part up by fast forwarding to my favorite part: the final song of the set was the beautiful and worshipful “Great Are You,” during which emotions definitely began to arise in the room.  The whole song and show were ended with the singing of the Latin words we’ve heard in “Reveal The Kingdom:”

“Exsiccatum est foenum, et cecidit flos; Verbum autem Domini nostri manet in aeternum.

(“The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God will stand forever.”)

I couldn’t help but come to tears at this point, pondering that verse.  These times of downhere and their wonderful shows have been absolutely incredible and adored, and will be remembered with so much fondness by us fans, and while we’re watching these things come to an end, what lasts is all God has done through it.  Apart from his own work, a song is only a song.  His word will stand forever.

I am beyond grateful to have been able to see downhere live these four times.  I have been immensely blessed during each experience on so many levels.  The sets, the stories shared, and the encouragement given.  Another blessing is having been able to meet and spent some time with Jason, Marc, Glenn, and Jeremy after the sets with my friends.  I’ve enjoyed the short but sweet conversations; the deep, mundane, and the humorous; from the color teal, to photography, to dealing with stress.  I’ve also been amazed by their exceptional memory; I never really expected them to remember me from show to show, but even with a good amount of time passed, they’ve remembered me and immediately greeted me with enthusiasm and kindness.  This is how they treat all their fans; they are always eager to show welcome and warmth to everyone at the shows, and make a true effort to connect.  I am just one of many who have been blessed by this!

“Bittersweet” has to be the defining word for that night, but it was more sweet than bitter.  Though much sadness was experienced among everyone at the show, including myself, over the ending of such a sweet era, it was both intertwined and overwhelmed by joy and gratitude.  I am endlessly grateful to God for how he has used the music and ministry of downhere in my life;  I have learned that I am not alone in the struggles I face.  I have learned that God’s forgiveness is final and that his grace is abundant and available.  I have learned, that even in my doubt, God’s love for me is greater than I can possibly imagine.  For these things, and more, I will forever be grateful.  Thank you, and farewell.

Setlist:

  • “Starspin”
  • “Larger Than Life”
  • “Cathedral Made Of People” (with “Protest To Praise” chorus)
  • “All At War”
  • “My Last Amen”
  • “A Better Way”
  • “Calmer Of The Storm”
  • “Hope Is Rising”
  • “Rest”
  • “Living The Dream”
  • “The More”
  • “Let Me Rediscover You”
  • “Here I Am”
  • “How Many Kings”
  • “Bleed For This Love”

(Encore)

  • “What It’s Like”
  • “Great Are You” (with Latin verse)

Comments

  1. This was a bittersweet gathering, indeed! It was a wonderful time, though, and felt more like a reunion than a farewell in some ways. Thank you for writing your thoughts out and sharing them with us… love your photos, too!

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