Rend Collective Performs at EU

On Friday, Jan. 15, Rend Collective rolled onto Eastern’s campus, bringing with them enough contagious exuberance to share with a crowd, enough musicality to make you pay no mind to the rising temperature of the gym or the strangers stepping on your feet, and Irish accents thick enough to leave you with a lilt leaping off of your own tongue well into the evening.

“We were never really concerned with calling ourselves one thing or fitting into a neat little box,” drummer Gareth Gilkeson explains. If there is a box in life, these musicians are nowhere near it, with their homemade instruments and bubbles erupting from the stage. Rend Collective wholly embodies Psalm 33:1: “Sing joyfully to the Lord.”

“We’re a worship band. We want our music to be able to be played by a 15-year-old worship leader in his youth group as much as by a professional team in a church. We just want it to be able to translate. That drives a lot of what we do. It’s a mix of both: just having a good ol’ shindig as well as writing hymns and songs for people in church,” says lead guitarist and vocalist Chris Llewellyn. While sharing their Irish culture with Eastern, they brought an opportunity for our school and community to gather together as family in Christ’s name, at the end of a stressful syllabus week, and worship with all we could muster from within our weary bodies as we danced and sang.

“We’ve always called ourselves a celebration band,” drummer Gilkeson explains. His bandmate, Llewellyn, adds, “We do stupid things and have fun and try to be creative, because those are all aspects of worship as well. But really, when it comes down to it, the simplicity of it all is just left in our songs. It’s right in the core of what we’re about.”

Moments of worship are often concluded with a prayer, and that prayer is sometimes shaken by Christ in such a way it whittles itself down to a mere whispered, barely audible “amen.” This night emulated that in the loveliest of ways. The robust beginning rattled the bleachers and the audience’s bones, but that wasn’t the whole show. Rend Collective knows know how to come together and make noise. However, they showed us that worship does not always have to leave your ears ringing. Through a quiet, simple encore of “In Christ Alone” appropriately paired with their original song, “Simplicity,” a hushed understanding of what it looks like for hundreds to gather in His name settled over us.

In the words of Llewellyn, “We’re really just there as prompters, trying to stir up worship redirect people’s thoughts. We’re trying to call out worship, to create an environment where worship’s possible; to remind people that we’re in the presence of a God who can do literally anything in that space, that there are no restrictions on any time that the Holy Spirit is present. That’s almost your job as a worship leader: just reminding people where they are, and then people just instinctively respond to that. It’s not a very hard job, honestly. The Holy Spirit does it all. We just play the music.”

The most beautiful aspect of this evening with Rend Collective was that it reminded us where we should be. It wasn’t a life-altering event – it was a bunch of college students spending their Friday night praising in a gym. God can do literally anything in a space where two, or where hundreds, are gathered in His name, and this was just a perfect example of that truth.

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