The house lights are dark as bright beams of electric blue scan the crowd. White strobes pulsate to the uhn tiss uhn tiss beat. A pre-chorus of snare-drum 16th notes gradually builds into a turbo-spooled climax of drum machine rapid fire.
Everything is wound in anticipation. The bass drops.
People in the crowd dance, clap, and sing. Others stand statuesque, as if wondering what’s happening.
The Crossing, a non-denominational church in Tampa with a weekly attendance of roughly 3,500 people, is one of many congregations now incorporating electronic dance music (EDM) into its regular worship repertoire. It’s not a full-on rave, and you’ll see more “traditional” instruments like drums, electric guitars, and keyboards. But infused with more familiar modern worship stylings are characteristics of the EDM aesthetic: layers of computer-programmed electronic backing tracks, quarter-note bass thumps, and cycles of musical “builds” and “drops,” much of it set to a tempo around 130 beats per minute.
EDM, once the underpinning of the all-night rave scene, has now become one of the most popular mainstream musical styles, and it is influencing both studio-recorded Christian worship music and live congregational performances.