Walking into Calvary Community Church at 8 p.m. on a Wednesday, I feel uneasy. I’m not the biggest fan of churches, and the thought of willingly subjecting myself to a few hours in one doesn’t sit well—even if it’s supposed to be for music.
Luckily, 15 seconds after walking into Anthem, the new all-ages venue inside this church, I see a teenage girl wearing a low-cut halter-top with the back ripped nearly to shreds. This punk-rock glam is definitely not church attire; I breathe a sigh of relief.
Anthem is about the music, not converting nonbelievers, says organizer Chris Stahl, so fears like mine are unfounded. “We’re just happy to be providing another all-ages venue,” he says. “They are so few.”
Tonight is Anthem’s second show, though Stahl says the church held similar concerts regularly about two years ago. Only one of the three scheduled bands, Texas-based The Red Airplanes, labels itself a Christian band. The two local bands, And She Whispered and Tragic Hidden Story, don’t. Stahl says the venue welcomes all genres and doesn’t want to focus exclusively on Christian music. All he asks for is limited profanity—after all, this is a church.
- Anthem inside Calvary Community Church
- 2900 N. Torrey Pines Drive
Tyler Simmons of And She Whispered says adhering to that demand wasn’t difficult. Tonight, his band changed only one word in one song. He adds that playing at the church provides a better experience than other all-ages venues have. “People are nicer here,” he says.
This nicer environment might be a result of a love-thy-neighbor creed followed by most of the attendees. Or, it could be that the audience just feels more relaxed in a venue that’s well-ventilated, carries sound decently and provides seating for weary feet to rest.
Either way, it works, as long as you can get past the pews.
Stahl thinks kids can and will. Tonight’s crowd peaks at more than 100 during the main act. He believes that if he keeps the entertainment fresh, word will spread, and teens will latch on to these church rock shows. “It’s definitely a new environment,” he says