Relient K, The Rocket Summer, Maxeen

If all Christian-rawk groups were as good as The Rocket Summer, we all just might have to go and find Jesus. Bryce Avery, the multi-instrumented singer/songwriter behind the band, writes straightforward pop songs that are irresistibly catchy and tend to incite sing-a-longs. The ebullient 22-year-old (and Colleyville native) has been turning up his energy lately, shifting towards a more rocking approach that blends emo and indie rock with just a dash of the friendly New Age-y Jesus stuff. His latest album, 2005's Hello, Good Friend, brought the shift, somewhat disappointing loyal female fans who want nothing more than his sweet falsetto. But chances are good that both the rock and the falsetto will be preaching to the choir when he lands in town at the new Warehouse Live.

At the top of the bill is another kick-ass Christian band (can I say that?) that's been having a field day with its pop-punk approach to worship. Relient K dropped Mmhmm last year, showing off a fantastic blend of piano-driven pop, New Found Glory-style punk and just a bit of plaintive emo for good measure. One interesting thing about both these bands is the fact that if the Jesus connection weren't known, they'd just seem like a bunch of reflective kids, since there are usually no explicit religious references, only talk of second chances, being true to yourself and standing up for what's right. As Relient K's lead singer Matt Thiessen puts it on the band's Web site, "We've...found it to be the hardest thing in the world to say 'Jesus' in a song and not be cheesy, so we definitely have our own way of singing about spirituality. But in the end that's who we are and what we believe in." Which is probably for the best: The unknowing heathens get a little J-man in their lives, and the Christ-core kids finally get to listen to good music.

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Ray Hafner