Hopper Gymnasium was bursting at the seams Friday night as students and Simpson’s surrounding community crowded in to hear the smooth vocals and intricate guitar melodies of Shawn McDonald.
More than 150 seats were set up on the floor, but the balcony had to be opened to allow for the unexpected turnout of about 320 people.
“We were just hoping to fill 200 seats, so I think this is good testament to the campus’ need for Christian concerts,” said sophomore Jason Kramme, president of the Christian Concert Committee.
McDonald performed for more than an hour.
“He’s amazing,” junior Lindsay Wood said. “No word is great enough to describe Shawn McDonald.”
Friday’s concert drew audience members from a multi-state region. Small groups of McDonald followers came from Nebraska, South Dakota, Minnesota and Missouri.
“The concert was definitely a success by my standards,” McDonald said.
Many RLC members were involved in preparation for the concert.
“Others have been working on this a long time, but I was here to decorate and run the merchandise,” junior Jess Bowen said.
According to junior Libby Ehrig, McDonald gave Simpson more than just his music.
“We tried to do a battle of the bands last year, but this just all came together,” Ehrig said. “We actually made some money.”
Even though McDonald was in town only on Friday, he said he enjoyed his short stay in Iowa.
“I didn’t get a chance to see much of the campus, but I was surprised at how big it seemed,” McDonald said.
After the success of its first big endeavor, the Christian Concert Committee plans to make this a more regular occurrence on campus.
“We will definitely approach RLC for more money and opportunities,” Kramme said. “I think the turnout speaks for itself.”
Opening for McDonald was Simpson’s own “Wallace,” featuring senior Greg Dolmage.
“It was exciting to perform for someone with a label, and everything surpassed my expectations,” Dolmage said.
The location of the concert was a main concern for Dolmage.
“We could have had a nightmare acoustically with all of the brick in Hopper, but it went really well,” Dolmage said. “Everything sounded excellent.”
In the future, other locations may be considered.
“It just depends who we have as a performer,” Kramme said. “Hopper worked really well for this artist and the coffee-shop atmosphere we were going for. We’ll see who we bring in next; our concern is that Simpson doesn’t really have any good acoustics anywhere.”
The concert was promoted on local radio stations and in surrounding churches.
“This was great publicity for the college, but more importantly, it was just great to see God moved here tonight,” Kramme said. “Above all, this was for the students to help build a Christian community through music.”