A small group of God-fearing men and women are pouring their hearts outs out on a crowded stage playing a bunch of random instruments (some of which you’ve probably never heard of or even seen before) while singing a refreshing high-energy tune. They’re dancing around like they’re on fire and their smiles fill you with an indescribable joy and sense of camaraderie. They stomp clap run around dance and even bang on trash cans all while wearing their Sunday best. You have no idea what is going on but you don’t care. You just want in and you want in right now: In short this could give you a good idea of the musicians from Bangor Ireland whom we know as Rend Collective Experiment.
I stumbled upon the band by accident one day. I was intrigued by a photo of five of them sitting in a boat dressed in nice clothing holding various instruments. The caption simply read “Homemade Worship By Handmade People ” and I remember thinking “how classy” but didn’t put much more thought into it. A few days later a friend asked about one of their songs. Without knowing it was the same band I began looking them up. The more I found the more I liked.
Sometimes a band can feel a little unrelatable. Some seem to be so far surpassing of everyone that you don’t feel like you would even have the guts to approach them. Rend Collective Experiment is nothing like that even though they have unbelievable skills. They are every bit as humble as they are talented and every bit as friendly as they are interesting! They are as approachable as the worship band from your church while possessing the skills and professionalism to sell out huge arenas for years to come.
As it turns out the five members in the photos are about a third of the entire group. Rend Collective Experiment began as just that an experimental student movement of about 15 friends representing different churches. They say they “started in 2004 as a group of confused 20-somethings started trying to figure out life God and community.” They are artists musicians and above all regular people who decided to band together to do something with their talents and the revelations on their hearts. So when I say they’re approachable I really mean it.
Much to my delight I was able to see them perform last month. Two words: Stumpf fiddle! At one point they played a trash can with a stick decorated with colourful ribbons and even rotated instruments a few times (all of this in the course of just three songs!) Everyone plays their instruments very passionately and after the performance they like to hang out with fans and make new friends. They are some of the funniest people you could ever hope to meet (even if you can’t always understand their accents) and they’re also some of the friendliest (even they can’t always understand your accent). I have since become a huge fan of this exceptional band full of regular people with unreal talent!
The album begins with “Praise LikeFireworks”(how can you not love a name like that?) a song that echoes the chorus “You’ve given us a heart given us a home with You.” The album starts with a lot of energy. It sets you up for the whirlwind of beautiful music you’re about to hear.
Perhaps the most talked about track on the album is “You Are My Vision ” a take on the classic Irish hymn Be Thou My Vision. The lyrics paint a calming picture. When commenting about it band member Gareth Gilkeson said “As we translated the song from the Irish and the old English we soon realized the true meaning of the words were starting to get lost in our culture. This is not a song of longing and asking God to andlsquo;be our vision but it is a song of declaration and faith. We say to God with strength trust and humanity that andlsquo;You are my vision You are my wisdomandhellip; You are my battle shield