Worship music from one of Waco’s largest Christian churches moves outdoors when AntiochLIVE, the lead worship band of Antioch Community Church, performs as headliner for Thursday’s free RiverSounds concert at McLennan Community College’s Bosque River Stage.
Opening for AntiochLIVE is the Purple Hulls, the duo of twin sisters Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark, who will play a set of gospel bluegrass music.
It’s the first time a church-related band has headlined a RiverSounds concert, though the Bosque River Stage is no stranger to gospel music. MCC music industry students, too, regularly field a Christian music band each semester alongside student country and rock ones.
Although AntiochLIVE has performed at conferences, organizations and meetings outside the church, Thursday’s concert offers a different audience, the Waco community. “We don’t get many chances to play out in the community,” said Antioch worship leader James Mark Gulley, who sings and plays guitar.
What listeners can expect from the seven-member AntiochLIVE is an evening of Christian rock and progressive rock meant to share an experience of God more so than an evangelical service aimed at conversion.
“First and foremost, we’re worship leaders and want to give people the opportunity to be with God. Even lyrically, that’s our heart,” said Owen Wible, an associate worship pastor who sings and plays keyboards. “Our worship is passionate, and our style is pretty passionate.”
Add the instrumentation of electric guitars, keyboards, bass and drums and that translates, musically, into a rock and progressive rock sound. Joining Gulley and Wible Thursday night will be electric guitarists Thomas Willson and Brooks Whitehurst, bassist Maria Gulley , drummer Zach Solomon and singer Mailey Augustine.
About half of the band’s songs are original — AntiochLIVE has recorded three albums of original songs, available on iTunes, Spotify and Apple Music — with several by Gulley, the principal songwriter from 2000 to 2010, when others were encouraged to exercise their songwriting talents. “It seemed very clear that songwriting was a calling and something we should steward,” Gulley said.
AntiochLIVE is an expression of Antioch’s considerable emphasis on worship, he said. More than 90 people are involved in planning and leading Antioch’s three Sunday worship services as well as weekly ones for college and high school ages. Worship and music also play key roles in church planting, another Antioch emphasis, and Gulley noted that several past AntiochLIVE players and worship leaders have left over the years to start new churches.
AntiochLIVE will follow the Purple Hulls, Katy Lou and Penny Lea Clark, sisters from Kilgore, where they grew up on a family farm. On the advice of their banjo-playing brother, Ben, who had toured with Taylor Swift, the two moved to Nashville after college to pursue a career in country music. When their father became terminally ill, however, the sisters moved back to help with the farm and have built a country and Christian country following from their base in Kilgore.