TobyMac at Roanoke Island Festival Park in Manteo.

It would be hard to imagine a better way to spend a June evening under the stars than to be at a TobyMac concert at the Roanoke Island Festival Park outdoor theater.

TobyMac is a Christian hiphop artist, but that’s at best an imperfect description of his music and the show he puts on.

His lyrics are framed around his faith, but unlike many musicians in the Christian music world, he is more focused on his journey and how it makes him feel. As a consequence the message that goes out clearly is one of inclusion and if the lyrics didn’t make that a definite statement, the name of his band—DiverseCity—seems to underscore his philosophy.

Leaving aside the faith-based message, it was an amazing evening of music. Although his is classified as a hiphop musician, after performing for more than 20 years, TobyMac’s music contains an extraordinary range of influences—blues, jazz, ballads…it’s all part of his sound.

As good as the music was—and it was truly memorable—the theatrical quality of what he does really set the evening apart from almost anything else that has been seen on the Outer Banks.

He travels with a tractor trailer…no doubt to haul all of his equipment, which includes a runway that takes him and his DiverseCity band right into the heart of the audience. 

There are spotlights, flashing stage lights, some special effects and the result is a theatrical production with great music.

Best part of the whole experience, though, may have been seeing multiple generations at RIFP. It looked like there was every age from seven to 70 on hand.