NEEDTOBREATHE is “the biggest band that none of your friends know of,” said the band's lead singer, Bear Rinehart, during their sold-out show in Irving on Friday.
The group introduced themselves as a rock 'n' roll band, but truthfully they are often categorized as a Christian band. In an interview with Rolling Stone in 2016, they said “any label is limiting. That one in particular is especially limiting. To me, I think people pass over the band all the time because they read that ... I hate the idea that they somehow feel like I didn't make the music for them, that we didn't play music for everyone.”
While NEEDTOBREATHE gets played on plenty of Christian radio stations, they are signed with the secular Atlantic Records and have said they turned down Christian labels to not limit themselves. In fact, they are constantly releasing songs without any mention of their religious beliefs even if their Christian songs seem to gain more popularity.
But Friday night, they proved they're a rock band.
The group toured last year with Faith Hill and Tim McGraw (so maybe they're a little country, too) and are back bigger than ever, selling out shows and performing in iconic venues, like Red Rocks in Colorado and the Greek Theater in Los Angeles — and Toyota Music Factory in Irving.
Recently, the South Carolina band spent some time in Fort Worth writing and recording new music.
“We had a great time," Rinehart told the crowd Friday night. "Spent like 10 days, recorded seven songs, put four of them out right away and we’ve got the other three coming later, I promise."
Friday night, the band played a couple of new songs like the ballad “Darling,” but also busted out some of their bigger hits like “Brother” and “Happiness.”
Christian or not, this concert welcomed everyone. Parents brought their kids, young people brought their dates and groups of friends were all there to hear their favorite band.
NEEDTOBREATHE proved to be incredible instrumentalists, entertaining during guitar solos and in between riffs. There must have been about 20 instruments up on stage from their set. Rinehart was switching guitars every song, it seemed, even switching in the middle of a song at times. Guitarist Bo Rinehart was skilled (even tossing one of his electrics to an enthusiastic fan in the crowd at one point), but he also did a bit of dancing. Seth Bolt, a backup vocalist and their bassist, switched his bass out for a ukulele during an acoustic number. And Josh Lovelace killed it not only on keyboard but also with impressive harmonica solos and breaking out a sax to everyone’s surprise.
But the band could also hold their own with just vocals. They had a few numbers in a more intimate acoustic setting, and the harmonies filled up the pavilion even when the instruments cut out.
An interesting thing happened halfway through the set. Bear Rinehart disappeared behind stage and the place went dark. Soon he was suspended above the stage with his iconic hat and guitar, but this time, he was wearing a jacket with little mirrors on it. Everything was dark except for the light shining on his jacket, thus turning him into a disco ball.
Bear performed a ballad solo as the disco ball before the rest of his bandmates came back out post-costume change. Everyone’s phones were out to record this interesting costume/set choice, but it was hard to decide what to make of it.
One of the band’s openers seemed to have more fans than the headliners. Johnnyswim, a husband and wife duo, was a crowd favorite.
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“They are proving to be incredibly inspiring to us," Bear said. "Not just as musicians but as people, they’re amazing. If ya’ll don’t have their records, go get 'em."
The duo was called back onstage to perform the song “Forever On Your Side” that was featured on NEEDTOBREATHE’s album.
NEEDTOBREATHE proved to be a fun and energetic group to watch. The interactions between band members seemed organic and the vocals were strong and seamless. Yes, we’re not sure about the disco ball, but every band member was very versatile and passionate.
“We are absolutely overwhelmed — and I mean this, we talk about this all the time — that our music somehow plays a role in your life whatever that might be," Bear Rinehart said. "If that’s going to work or helping you get over something, that is a humbling thing. We’re absolutely blown away by it. We do not take it for granted at all. Nights like tonight make that seem completely impossible. Thank you.”