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At home around seaside campfire

Bangor’s Rend Collective have brought their sense of Irishness to the world’s biggest venues, MSG included.

By Colleen Taylor

Religious celebration and cool music don’t often mix, but when it comes to one Northern Irish band, they are one in the same. Rend Collective fuses Christian themes with energetic, fresh folksy rock. Within the last few years, Rend Collective has exploded onto the international stage, raking in millions of YouTube hits and top spots in the Christian Music Charts. Still, the band resists categorization, jumping from instrument to instrument and genre to genre. Despite their growing fame, at the end of the day, Rend Collective is most at home with their music around a campfire at the Irish seaside.

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If you just heard them while surfing the radio stations, you wouldn’t automatically classify Rend Collective within the Christian music community. I confess I enjoyed listening to their tracks for some time without making the connection. But that’s just what constitutes this band’s character and success: the youthful reinvigoration of the Christian music scene, old themes with new, energetic beats. Since the release of their alt-pop project “Homemade Worship by Handmade People,” Rend Collective have become the forerunners of their transatlantic musical community, paving the way with their modern sounds. This band incorporates raspy vocals, powerful rock rhythms and even some electronic reverb. They have become renowned for their animated live shows, drawing in fans in Ireland, the UK, and the States alike. Their musical energy has enlivened crowds in some of the biggest world venues, even Madison Square Garden.

Irishness is something this band celebrates too. The landscape of their country informs not only their folksy style, but the very atmosphere of their music. For instance, they recorded an entire album live around a campfire on the beach in Ireland. That album, “Campfire Christmas” is due for release in a matter of weeks. The band also embarked on the far more challenging task of recording a music video on a fishing boat on the rocky Irish Sea. An Irish backdrop is omnipresent in all their videos and multi-media projects. These recurring odes to seaside in Ireland make sense: the band, or as they like to think of themselves, the family, all hail from Bangor, a coastal town in County Down.

Their most recent album is “As Family We Go.” It has not only affirmed the band’s international status but it has proven their cross-categorical appeal as well. The album reached number 19 in the overall UK album charts, making it the highest ranking Christian album debut in the UK. If you’re skeptical, I suggest giving their latest hit, “You Will Never Run,” a listen. It’s just plain, feel-good modern folk music and it’s a song that can be enjoyed in any context. Like “You Will Never Run,” “Every Giant Will Fall,” another track on the album, is infectiously jubilant and travels from group to group like kinetic happiness. Rend Collective have mastered instrumental jamboree and folksy euphoria.

If this sounds like your kind of jam, learn more about the Bangor band at Rend Collective is spending their winter season in the States before heading back on tour in the UK and Ireland. They’re touring the Northeast this next week, stopping off in Fairfield, Conn., on Sunday. No doubt they’ll bring the good vibes with them.