Tag Archives: Rend Collective Experiment

GUEST POST: A Night Like No Other at The Cove

By Tiffany Jothen

I’m not sure I have ever seen my dad clap along to a worship song, but Saturday, I witnessed the phenomenon TWICE when Irish folk band Rend Collective Experiment took the stage at The Cove.  I don’t think anyone can see them in concert and not move around.

I first saw Rend Collective in Buffalo, N.Y., last fall when they performed at Rock the Lakes, a BGEA youth event.  Listening to their music is like a holy band room exploding in your soul — a Jesus jamboree.  It’s the kind of band that makes me want to learn an instrument so I can be in it, too.  My parents and husband gladly came along Saturday when I showed them a few of the band’s YouTube videos.

A couple of weeks before the concert, I ordered Rend Collective’s latest CD, “Campfire,” so I could sing along on Saturday.  I don’t like playing my music loud when I drive with the windows down, but this CD I want to share with everyone.  Seeing it live was even better.  They truly know how to honor God’s majesty and creativity.

One of the best things about Saturday’s performance — besides the high-energy band itself — was the audience.  More than 20 states — from California to Florida — were represented, with a few people under 10 years old and several over 70.  Some people wore sundresses or khakis; others went with the cutoff jean shorts and beanies.

An older woman who sat next to me at dinner before the concert said she knew nothing about Rend Collective, but was in the area and thought they would be good.  A group of 20-somethings who sat behind me during the concert called them a “sweet” band, and one guy in the group said a concert doesn’t get much better — a delicious dinner beforehand, no crowds to fight and not a bad seat in the house.  Outside, it poured down rain, but inside everyone eagerly anticipated the next song.

“When it rains this much in Ireland, we’re all just grumpy,” band member Gareth Gilkeson said in his Irish acccent.  He put up his hands in his vest pockets, wore a red tie and hat and used words like “wee li’l” and “shindigery.”  (His wife and fellow band mate, Ali, said after the concert that if you eat enough Lucky Charms, you’ll get the same accent too.)

Throughout the show, the band used all kinds of instruments, including an accordian, xylophone and trash can.  I was impressed with Ali’s ability to switch instruments multiple times during a song.  Lead singer Chris Llewellyn picked up a ukulele toward the end.

“It’s mostly played by little girls, but that doesn’t bother me,” he said.

RCE from TiffanyI was sad when my camera died about half an hour in, but I decided it was better to experience the concert first-hand anyway.  The lyrics on the screen made it easy to sing along, and it’s always moving to witness an entire room of people praising God together — voices and sometimes arms raised.  For one song, we put an arm around our neighbor and jumped in sync.

(Check out this video another person in the audience posted on YouTube!)

Other highlights included the band letting the audience lead “10,000 Reasons” and sharing their rendition of “In Christ Alone,” which I LOVED.  (Next CD maybe?)

This is a picture of me and my family, taken in my parents’ inn room after the concert.
RCE concert Tiffany and family


Win Tickets: Eclectic Irish Musicians at The Cove

By Tiffany Jothen

Rend Collective Chris LLewellynChris Llewellyn was “aggressively opposed” to Christianity. His dad was in a Christian band, but Chris wanted nothing to do with God – or music. Today, he sings with Rend Collective Experiment, an Irish folk rock band seeking an authentic connection with God through organic worship.

Chris, 28, reflects on his teenage years when he shoplifted, drank too much and partied hard. He played rugby and wanted to go pro, but an injury at 17 forced him to hit the brakes.

“I had to take stock in my life,” he said. He realized that everything he was putting his hope in was temporary.

“For some reason, I felt compelled to read the Bible … not because I had any interest in God at all.”

Chris had always enjoyed literature. He started reading the Bible in the back, in Revelation, and surrendered his life to Christ by chapter three.

He remembers Christ’s words in Revelation 3:15-16: “I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm – neither hot nor cold – I am about to spit you out of my mouth.”

“I realized that you couldn’t respond to this Book … the way that I wanted to, which was to read it indifferently,” Chris said. “It was either a complete waste of time or something to throw your whole life into. I really felt the presence of the Holy Spirit – what I recognize now as the Holy Spirit.”

He was home at the time and didn’t know what to do next.

“There was no appeal [to repent], no keyboard playing. … It was just me and the Book and the Holy Spirit,” he said.

The following Sunday, he attended his parents’ church where he raised his hand to show his decision to follow Christ. He joined a college movement called Rend and started leading worship. That’s where he met Gareth Gilkeson, another member of what’s now Rend Collective Experiment.

“It’s kind of hard to tell where it began. … We’ve been friends for such a long time,” Chris said of the group.

Rend Collective has five core members: Chris, Gareth and his wife Ali, Will Herron and Patrick Thompson. (Watch Ali’s story here.) The group has included different members and collaborations over the years. Band members used to play secular music in pubs, inviting students from their college group to pray for opportunities to start faith conversations with people in the pub.

Rend Collective 2013Today, the internationally recognized band has toured the United States for more than two years, performing at Franklin Graham Festivals and Will Graham Celebrations, and sharing the stage with Chris Tomlin, MercyMe, Tenth Avenue North and Lecrae. The band’s goal is to bring a new approach to congregational worship. The song “You Are My Vision” was an old Irish hymn the group modernized for today’s audiences.

While there’s nothing wrong with polished people playing polished music under great lighting, Chris said, “the kingdom is all about bringing people who are different together,” and sometimes that requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach.

Rend Collective, currently based in Atlanta, Ga., is known for using a hodgepodge of instruments: accordions, banjos, trash cans, a bouzouki – similar to a mandolin – and the jingling Johnny, a percussion stick that Ali made herself.

Folk music has always been for the people, Chris said, and the group wants worship to be the same way.

“We are all handmade people, each one of us unique and important, crafted delicately by divine hands,” Gareth says on the band’s website. “Above all created things, God calls us a work of art.”

The group emphasizes God’s creative nature in its music.

“He doesn’t make us the way Starbucks makes coffee,” Chris said. “We’re not mass produced. … We are each His masterpiece.”

Concert information

Rend Collective Experiment will perform at The Cove in Asheville, N.C., on July 6. Tickets are $50 including dinner, or $28 for concert only. The band will sign CDs afterwards. For more information and to register, click here.  Overnight lodging is also available.

To win two tickets to dinner and concert, just leave a comment below telling us how music has inspired you or blessed your life.  A winner will be chosen on June 19th.

UPDATE: Thank you for all of the comments. We were truly inspired reading how music impacts your walk with Christ. Congratulations to Crystal and Brandon King from North Carolina, as they were the selected winners of the tickets to see Rend Collective Experience on July 6. Please stay tuned to our blog for other opportunities like this in the future!