'Awestruck' spreads spiritual rock on campus

Western students hold Christian rock concert at the Spoke

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Jeff Jonusaitis, Graham Drummond, Ben Doner, Matt Simmonds and Paul Jenkins

Lauren Pelley

YOU'VE BEEN - "AWESTRUCK." Jeff Jonusaitis, Graham Drummond, Ben Doner, Matt Simmonds and Paul Jenkins (from left to right) will be rocking out at the Spoke this Saturday with their mix of modern spiritual music.

There is an immediate misconception that modern spiritual music is a solemn church-like experience, but according to singer and guitarist of Awestruck, Jeff Jonusaitus, not many people realize how many popular bands are Christian rock.

Jonusaitus points out there are spiritual undercurrents in the songs of bands like U2, Mute Math and Switchfoot.

“These bands are featured on everyday radio. They have broader moral messages, practical moral application. They make social commentary,” Jonasaitus says.

“A band like Switchfoot is Christian, but their music speaks a more universal language,” bassist Matt Simmonds adds.

This Saturday at the Spoke, a group of Western students will hold “Awestruck,” a modern spiritual concert meant to reach out to others who might not otherwise attend a Christian rock event.

“One of the main objectives [of the concert] is just to have fun. We want a lot of people, Christian and non, to come and enjoy the music,” guitarist Paul Jenkins says.

Last year, Jonusaitus held succesful a spiritually-oriented rock show at Elgin Hall residence. This year, the band chose a more exposed venue for its concert.

“We made a few changes. We tried to expand the scope to all of campus. That’s why [we’re doing] it at the Spoke. It’s not a residence program this time around.”

The two-hour set will consist of more popular cover songs while the second set is Christian worship music.

“The Christian thing to do isn’t to just sit in a church. The show’s going to be rocking and it should be fun,” Jenkins says.

As Campus for Christ members, the band agrees it is difficult to maintain its Christianity on campus, starting with O-Week onwards.

“It’s not how it was back home,” Jenkins says. “Coming to campus makes it more difficult to have faith in God.”

“There’s always a lot of pressure to follow the crowd,” Simmonds adds.

“Awestruck,” however, doesn’t aim to exclude students who aren’t as spiritually inclined, but instead celebrates Christianity through rock music.

“The focus is not on us " we want the focus on the music and the event,” Jonusaitus says. “What the lyrics are saying [is] what we’re trying to communicate.

“We feel like we’ve all been blessed with talent to play music and do it well. I think each of us is really skilled at our own instrument. We use these talents as a way to give back to God and glorify Him.”

“Awestruck” is happening this Saturday at 8 p.m. at the Spoke.

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