Rend Collective performs their Good News album at Asbury University
Rend Collective, a folk-rock Christian worship band, hails originally from Northern Ireland. They completely sold out during their recent performance at Hughes Auditorium of Asbury University while on their Good News tour on Saturday.
Rend Collective released Good News, their sixth and newest studio album, on January 19th. The band’s music is distinctly Irish in nature, making it stand out among modern Christian bands. Good News contains 15 original songs that both recognize the challenges of life and celebrate the joys of life in Christ. It was written as a hopeful response to the evident brokenness in today’s world.
“All of us make mistakes and hit the ground feeling like we can’t get up again, that our failure is too overwhelming,” said Gareth Gilkeson, band leader of Rend Collective, “Sometimes we spend so much of our time looking at what we don’t have rather than being thankful for what we do have…God has given us so much and we must discipline our minds to think on our blessings rather than letting them fester on what we think we lack.”
Rend Collective is currently made up of five members: Gareth Gilkeson (band leader, drums, percussion), Chris Llewellyn (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, ukulele), Ali Gilkeson (keyboards, female lead/vocals, auxiliary percussion), Patrick Thompson (electric guitar, banjo, various strings, backing vocals), and Steve Mitchell (bass guitar). All five members made an appearance at Hughes Auditorium on Saturday.
Body Barnes, a well-known Christian worship leader married to Kari Jobe, performed the opening of the concert. The concert also contained brief intermissions during which representatives from World Vision, an international Christian organization that provides humanitarian relief to underprivileged, shared their testimonies and encouraged audience members to consider sponsoring refugee children.
Towards the end of the performance, the lights suddenly turned off and the whole auditorium became pitch black. When the lights turned back on, band members were wearing big panda heads as they danced around to lively music. The audience erupted into laughter and applause at the sudden transition and raised up phones to capture the moment for social media. “The pandas were my favorite part of the whole concert,” said Andy Magrouf, freshman at Asbury University, “I especially loved Rend Collective’s reasoning behind the whole thing. The worship leader explained that the philosophy behind the pandas is the belief that ‘seriousness is not a fruit of the spirit.’” After the concert, audience members queued up to purchase merchandise, and many of the items available for purchase had pandas on them.
Maggie Richwine, Vice President of the Student Activities Board, said the concert was received incredibly well. “Hughes needs a little bit of crazy,” she told the Collegian, the campus newspaper, “I mean we get crazy sometimes, but that was a different kind of crazy. There were so many people who were just so invested in it, and that’s what I like to see. I don’t do what I do for any other reason than to bring joy to this campus. So the fact that I can do that and just be a part of this big production was awesome.”
Preparations for the concert had begun in the Spring but wasn’t finalized until September. The Asbury Student Congress (ASC) and Heather Tyner, the Director of Student Engagement, worked in collaboration with Premiere productions, the largest producer of live Christian events in the country, to make the concert a possibility. The process was long as details needed to be put in place to ensure safety measures were followed.
After this precedent set by Rend Collective, students are looking forward to Asbury hosting more bands in the upcoming future. Maggie Richwine said that offers have already started rolling in for more bands like Rend Collective to perform at Asbury. Having such bands perform also helps promote publicity for Asbury.
Rend Collective is continuing their Good News tour after performing at Asbury. The Irish band travels in hopes “not to shy away from brokenness and suffering, but rather through music and lyric that continues to push boundaries in the band’s own unique way, bring light to the darkness.” Their album is an “invitation to all of us—to lament, to remember, and to share in the good news that belongs to all of us.”