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Singing about girls and God

by Archives October 30, 2002

Christian pop/rock band JAKE played their first ever Montreal concert to a crowd of over 250 people at the Salvation Army Citadel on Drummond Street this past Saturday.

Before the three brothers from Three Hills, Alberta took the stage, Starfield, a Christian alternative band from Winnipeg, opened up with some songs from their second album Tumbling After.

“We, on our faith journey, have encountered Jesus, and He has altered how we see things,” said Tim Neufeld, the lead singer of Starfield, before launching into ‘Alive In This Moment.’ “We’re Christians, and we sing from this world view [about] when we encountered God.”

When JAKE took the stage, electric guitars in hand, lead singer Toby Penner, along with his brothers Marty and Josh opened up with ‘Army of Love,’ the title track off of their new album.

The crowd cheered when they launched into a song by one of their favourite bands: ‘The Middle’ by Jimmy Eat World. They roared when Marty Penner spoke some phrases in French with the “help” of Zooks, their current drummer, who is half Quebecois. “Ma mere est sur la lune” was not “My mother is my biggest fan,” the crowd told him.

Following ‘Waiting,’ ‘The Right Time’ and a rocking worship version ‘God Is Great,’ Toby Penner introduced their next song ‘Let Me Know,’ a love song that has received secular airplay.

“We’re Christians. We love God and Jesus, but we do write about girls. This is what happens in our lives and you write about what happens in your life. Girls are a lot more confusing than guys.”

Before singing ‘Believer,’ Marty Penner spoke about something very dear to JAKE. “All four of us on stage follow the teachings of Jesus Christ. The most important question is if you belong to Jesus or not. We’re all on a spiritual journey [and] it’s the most important journey in life.”

The show ended with a praise-and-worship song entitled ‘God of Wonders.’ According to those in the crowd, the concert was well worth it. “I personally listen to R & B and gospel, but I enjoyed it. It was really fun,” said Melissa Vezina, a 20-year-old health science student at Dawson and a member of Evangel Pentecostal Church. “Also, I liked the way [Jake] integrated humour into their show. I thought they were really good.”

Beginning the band in 1999, the brothers admitted their name came about because most of the Penner men have been named Jake and since none of them were, they wanted to keep the name alive. While Toby Penner is 26-years-old, twins Marty and Josh are 23.

After being asked how being family is an advantage, Marty Penner said that unlike bands that have only gotten together recently, Jake never had that problem. “It’s an advantage relationally. We’re used to each other. There’s accountability.”

Even though they are Canadian, JAKE is more popular in the U.S. “The Canadian crowds are very different than American crowds. They’re more discerning and harder to win, [but] we’re happy to be home,” said Marty Penner. “Canadians are a little more critical. They don’t get on the band wagon as quickly as Americans do.”

Being Christians, the source of their inspiration is obvious. “The point of everything we do has some spiritual tie,” he said. “We look at the life of Jesus and try to emulate Him. He was an incredible man.”

In regards to the band’s ultimate mission, Marty Penner said that it is simple. “We’re all Christian people. In our culture, people know about Jesus, but don’t have good enough associations with the church and Jesus. They think of the crusades and killing abortionists. We’re concerned with saving the reputation of Jesus. We’re trying to point people to their spiritual Creator.”

As for music fans in Montreal, they hope JAKE will be back sometime soon. “It was amazing. [JAKE] really had it well together,” said Tyler Civico, an 18-year-old employee at Toys R Us who is non-Christian. “I would definitely come back and would pay double. I thought [JAKE was] as good as any secular band. They’re as good as anything else or even better. If you like Jimmy Eat World, you’ll like them.”

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