Words Move Mountains: McMillan and The Brilliance bring lyrical life to Dallas

John Mark performing at The Door in Dallas, November 12 2017
photo by Morgan Reynolds

After three hours of anxiously waiting, sore feet, and stuffy air, the lights went out.
The building beat of the drum brought the tiny venue to life.

It was an indescribable feeling looking up at my long-time favorite singer, John Mark McMillan, illuminated by stark blue light, only 5 feet away at The Door in Dallas..

His voice, steady, yet seemingly unsure, led the crowd to believe, it was alright to wonder.
Two hours before, he stood eye to eye with a crowd of thirty or so of us, and discussed his life, his music.

During the Q&A time, a man from the crowd raised his hand, “I read somewhere you recently went through a crisis of faith, could you expound upon that a bit, on how you came out of it?”
Without blinking an eye, John let out a deep laugh, “Well that’s to assume I have.”

He was strikingly honest.

John continued, “I think it’d be a bit weird if at 20 I thought the same things I did at 7, or if at 30 I still had the same mindset I did at 20.”

He spoke on about perpetual motion, how we are always going forward, on, and on, and on.

“I think we are like a river, always in motion, and what really matters is the angle toward the world we choose to take, yeah, I think that’s what Jesus cares about the most.
I’m in the middle of the Narrative,” he said, “Just living in the Mystery.

There were more questions, more responses. All of his words spoken with a rugged elegance.
Hours later, he took the stage.

His performance presence was just as strong as his personal presence.
He opened with a few hits from his latest album, Mercury and Lightning.
The crowd cried out as he asked us to sing the lyrics “I don’t wanna live like this, somethings gotta give.” These words, from a song on his recent album called, “Unhaunted”, resounded throughout the building.

Minutes later, he played “Enemy, love”, a personal favorite. Tears flowed as he softly cried, “But I think I’m losing my head.”The emotion in his voice suggested an overwhelming sense of uncontrolability, a familiar feeling for all.

The entire show was filled with moments like these; moments where the distance between the audience and the stage seemed lacking. Moments where the lyrics resonated deep in each viewers’ heart.

The Brilliance performing at The Door in Dallas, November 12 201

After an hour or so, McMillan seemed to be closing. He took out his acoustic guitar and played a few songs, then walked off the stage.

Moments later, McMillan and his band reappeared on stage accompanied by the two openers, “La Peer” and “The Brilliance”

The performance was ecstatic to say the least.
McMillan jumped off stage and closed with an energized performance of “Heart Won’t Stop” off of his You are the Avalanche EP.

It was a magical moment, as each person in the room, cried out the lyrics with hands raised.
McMillan’s performance was exceptional. However, his opener was not quite as impressive.
LaPeer, a singer/songwriter from Michigan, opened with a fairly disappointing performance.
LaPeer’s songs lacked lyrical depth, and were quite a contrast to McMillan’s poetic masterpieces.
Furthermore, the auditory quality itself was fairly lacking.

After LaPeer left the stage, the audience was relieved to see two musical masters, John Arndt and David Gungor. The two musicians make up the band called “The brilliance.”
Their music was a relief to everyone’s ears.

Before starting, Gungor took time to address the crowd, and the tragic events Texas has been facing.
“Texas, your strength inspires us,” said Gungor.

They played with a passion and a purpose, opening with a few classics, including, “See the Love” off of their album Brother, a moving piece addressing the struggle and process of “seeing love” in the midst of a tragic world.

The two grew up together and have been family friends their whole life.
Gungor disclosed to the audience they have been experiencing financial difficulties. “Neither of us intended to be musicians,” said Gungor, “To be on tour, traveling around, but we’ve been given these songs, and we have a responsibility to sing them.”

From peace to politics their songs gave a sense of hope and reconciliation. Filled with lyrical depth and astounding vocal beauty, their performance was short of breath taking.

To hear the story behind the songs made each lyric so much stronger. By the time The Brilliance stepped off the stage, they had a room full of faithful followers. Their music had done its purpose; it had brought people together, united hearts in the pursuit of a higher purpose: Peace.

The Brilliance and John Mark Mcmillan have chosen to reject the sensationalist society which surrounds them. They have set a higher standard for not only themselves, but music as a whole.

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