Northwestern welcomed a big-name concert to campus for the first time in over five years. Jeremy Vanderloop, Manic Drive, VOTA and Remedy Drive visited Christ Chapel on Thursday, March 20, as a stop on the March LifeLight Tour. Josh Brewer, the director of LifeLight, also spoke at the event.
Because this is the first big concert NW has had in several years, it is acting as a test-run to see if campus would be interested in pursuing more concerts in the future.
There are two considerations when it comes to bringing a concert to campus. One involves the risk of a high-capital investment. Big name bands often ask for a large fee, sometimes upwards of six digits.
Added to that is students’ general dislike of parting with their precious cash. With debit cards and flex money, students don’t have cash lying around to spend on extra expenses, even if it is just five dollars.
For colleges in metropolitan areas, it’s easier to bring in a band like fun., who charges around $175,000 for a show. It works well because of the available market; along with drawing in the college students, the outside community is usually willing to attend and pay for the more expensive ticket. Financially-speaking, smaller-name bands are easier to bring in.
When looking at a region like Northwest Iowa, bringing in the big names is unfeasible, unless the concert is held in Sioux City. There is a risk of not generating enough interest and ticket sales to break even.
Another concern is scheduling. With only a limited number of tour days, bands are often turned down by campuses because it simply doesn’t work out. Sometimes a day might be available, but no venue is open, or the days don’t work out at all. They might fall during a break or another time when it just doesn’t mesh with the campus calendar.
NW was able to find an opening amidst all the campus activities and signed up for the tour. The previous affiliation between NW and LifeLight was an added perk.
“We like LifeLight’s mission and what they’re about, and we’re partners with them for their festival,” said Aaron Beadner, director of Student Activities Council. “It was a continuation of that relationship.”
According to their website, LifeLight’s mission focuses on “taking the Church outside the walls, bringing LIGHT into the darkness with the life-changing message of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.” The LifeLight festival has been in existence since 1998 and has brought hundreds of thousands of people from all over the world to Sioux Falls, S.D. over the years.
For those who don’t like waiting for the August festival, the LifeLight Tours are a chance to experience the mission and gospel of the organization more than once a year. The tours made a comeback at the beginning of this year.
In a news release on the LifeLight website, LifeLight Ministry Director Josh Brewer said, “The Tours were an effective part of our ministry in the past as we saw lives and communities change.”
Thanks to the pre-existing relationship with LifeLight, NW was able to find the time and resources to bring the tour to campus. Some of those resources included 21 students who volunteered their day to help set up, sell tickets, work at the merchandise tables and act as prayer counselors. One student played an even bigger role in helping with the tour stop.
“I interned with LifeLight last summer and got connected with the staff,” Ashley Van Wyhe said. “Through these connections, I was able to give Josh Brewer some Orange City contacts in case Orange City wanted to host a LifeLight Tour.”
The college leapt at the chance and signed up for one of the dates on the LifeLight Reset Tour. Conversation about the tour stopping on campus began in January, and it only took a few weeks to establish NW as a concert spot.
The day of the performance was busy, with sound checks all day and the event at night. For students who volunteered, they had the opportunity to eat lunch with the bands and received free admission to the show.
The show dropped admission prices to free at 8 p.m., after the opening acts were done and before Josh Brewer spoke. His message about redemption was followed by the big-name band of the night.
“I really only wanted to see Remedy Drive,” student volunteer Kellie Goedken said. “I had no idea who any of the other bands were. I enjoyed it, and it was a fun thing to do. But it sucked it was on a Thursday night.”
The small audience size may have been a direct result of the night chosen. The tour had also made a stop in Rock Rapids, IA, which also might have been a factor in the crowd not being as large as previously hoped.
Even with the small size, Josh Brewer’s message of redemption and grace resounded with those in attendance. When called to sponsor a child through Compassion International, several people stepped up.
“Josh Brewer grabbed a pamphlet and said, ‘This is Maria — I want someone to sponsor her right now’,” Goedken said. “And this 12-year-old boy raised his hand and said, ‘I’ll do it.’ So it was cool that he felt led to do it.”
VanWyhe said she felt the night was a success.
“I think there were people there who had been touched by either the music or the message,” she said. “No matter how small, someone’s life was impacted that evening.”
Even though the bands didn’t have a sell-out show, some good still emerged; students were changed by the message of Jesus Christ, and some willingly sacrificed money and time to bring that message to campus. For more information about LifeLight, their mission and their Reset Tours, visit their website at www.lifelight.org.