Downhere performs its final concert at Youth Quake
By Julie Cole
Members of the Christian rock group downhere gave their final performance in Caronport, the place where the band started.
Briercrest alumni Marc Martel, Jason Germaine, and Jeremy Thiessen along with band mate Glenn Lavender gave their final farewell performance as a band last Saturday at Youth Quake.
“This is really cool,” Martel said during the concert. “Today feels not only like a homecoming but it’s a really cool bookend for us as a band because . . . this is where we started.”
“I’ve been looking forward to being on campus,” Thiessen said. “I think maybe just the opportunity to reminisce.”
“Marc and I went for walk this morning after breakfast,” Lavender chimed in. “We walked around the whole (campus) perimeter and went past the trailer (Marc and Jeremy) were living in like 12 years ago almost to the day.”
The band’s beginnings happened when Martel, Germaine and Thiessen were freshmen at Briercrest in 1996.
“We started playing together as a worship team, really a chapel band,” Thiessen recalled.
During that time, Lavender came to Briercrest sound studio to record an album with a different band. Germaine helped to make that recording.
“Jason mixed the CD for us, so I got to know Jason well through that process,” he said.
While Lavender kept playing in a different band, he remembers watching the trio of Martel, Germaine and Thiessen as they decided to make the career move to Nashville, Tenn.
“I went home and was telling my wife, ‘Well, the guys in downhere are moving to Nashville,’” he recalled. “’They’ve signed a record deal and they’re there now.’ We were joking and she said, ‘I would never want us to move to Nashville.’ I said, ‘Yeah, me neither.’ Within about three months I had left my band and joined downhere and we had moved to Nashville.”
With multiple GMA Canada, Dove, and Juno awards, the foursome has proved to be a winning combination throughout its 12-year history.
Last Saturday, the band was presented with another award at their final performance. Martel, Germaine, and Thiessen were awarded Briercrest’s Young Alumni of the Year Award by President Dwayne Uglem.
“We are absolutely thrilled that you did your last performance at our school,” he said. “You have been the savour of Christ all around this continent. Thank you for the creeds you’ve given us. Thank you for pointing us to our King.”
Thiessen expressed how important Briercrest’s support has been for the band.
“The love and support that we really have felt from Briercrest in large part has been institutionally,” he exclaimed. “The school and the staff and then our old professors who are still here have walked this journey with us. They’re telling us they’re praying for us in this next season and exhorting us, ‘Well done. You did us proud.’”
“Then the alumni – the people who were students with us during their time here,” the downhere drummer continued. “Some have made crazy treks to be here today. It’s really pretty humbling.”
Laura Harris, who graduated from Briercrest last year, flew all the way from Moncton, N.B. to see downhere’s final performance.
“They came to Moncton when I was probably in Grade 8 and I’ve been kind of a crazy fan ever since,” she said explaining her history with the group. “Marc, Jason and Jeremy stayed at my house in Moncton. I wish my family could be here. (Downhere) has been a big part of our whole family’s life. We’ve all been huge fans.”
The decision to end the band was shared by all four band members. Their journey these last few months has been about finishing well.
“At the end of the day, it was a decision of the downhere family to wrap it up,” Thiessen explained. We wanted to end well relationally. That’s been really key for us the whole time as a band. Ending well for us was ending where our families were happy. We didn’t want to be holding onto this dream and have our families suffer as a result of it.”
Perhaps the statement on the band’s webpage says it best.
“We have always wanted to finish well. We believe that means finishing together, as a band . . . and that is what we are going to do.”