Garrels talks faith, sings to a packed-out Eddy
Looking out upon a sea of over 1,000 faces, Josh Garrels plays for a captivated crowd at the Eddy. | Emily Arnold/THE CHIMES
The stage is set. The lights are up and running. Event staff is testing the sound equipment as people begin to fill the few chairs set up into rows in the courtyard over an hour before the concert is to begin. Students mingle around the fire pit and others place blankets on the grass to reserve a comfortable area. They’ve brought food, homework and other activities to pass the time as they chat excitedly about The Eddy’s first artist of the semester: Josh Garrels.
As this Christian artist warmed up on stage, students, families and even those from outside the Biola community gathered to kick off this Biola tradition.
“It feels like he fits here,” said senior art major Kourtney Jackson. “I think he’s the number one artist that Biola would desire to have here.”
Jackson’s assessment seems fairly spot-on, judging by the sheer number of students, faculty and non-Biolans that flooded the ground space in front of the Student Union Building at Monday night’s event.
Huge numbers take in the show
“Right now we’re pretty crowded and it’s just sound check and we have an hour and fifteen minutes before the show starts … I think it’ll pack out, I would say 300 [people],” said senior Lauren Bailey, Associated Students’ music and arts coordinator, before the concert.
But this number was far under the mark.
Bailey said later that more than 1,000 people in attendance.
By the time 8 p.m. rolled around and Bailey introduced the opening act — Biola’s own Carson Leith, a senior English major — fans were shoulder to shoulder, out to the streets, and there was standing room only.
After a few original songs from Leith, Garrels made his way to the stage to much applause and cheering. His friendly banter between songs spoke to his personable, genuine character. The blanket hush as Garrels played indicated the respect for him as a musician from those who gathered to support him Monday night.
One attendant was Camden Crane, a University of California Los Angeles graduate, who recently returned from serving in Ethiopia for four years with “Change for Change: Ethiopia.”
“He quickly became my favorite artist and he was a huge reason why I was even able to hold it together while I was out there, because his songs spoke very deeply to my soul.” she said. “[His music] is real, it’s so full, and it’s full of enjoyment.”
Garrels imparts wisdom and musical delight
Garrels did not stop with merely performing his music; he spent a good amount of time between songs encouraging and challenging Biola students.
“Come to the one who gives purpose … life without the purpose giver is vanity … he [Jesus] is the only one that can give you purpose,” Garrels said. “But you can’t just learn about him.”
Directly following his last number, Garrels spent over an hour talking with, praying for and pouring into Biola students and concert attendees, regardless of the time of night.
A post-concert interview with Garrels gave more insight on the musician’s walk with the Lord through music.
When asked how he would describe the journey of his musical career in one word, Garrels called it a desert.
“It’s always just felt like I’m sort of wandering in hope that we’ll be okay, like we’ll have manna each day,” he said.
With The Eddy’s first event of the semester closing out successfully and with much student approval, Biolans should look forward to future Thursday-night venues and guest artists.
“I thought it was incredible … Biola did a great job putting it together and it was an awesome time,” said Anthony Gudenau, a junior from a local community college.
Keep your eyes peeled for event postings, because this year’s schedule has already started off with a tidal wave of an artist and the talent level doesn’t look to be ebbing anytime soon.