NEEDTOBREATHE gives us a reason to exhale

Liz Youngs

South Carolina has produced another incredible musical ensemble, this one in the form of Southern rock band NEEDTOBREATHE. Brothers Bear (vocals, guitar) and Bo (guitar, vocals) Rinehart and Seth Bolt (bass, vocals) hail from Possum Kingdom and Josh Lovelace (keys, vocals), who comes to the band from Knoxville, Tenn. round out the group. These super talented, chart-topping, Grammy-nominated musicians performed in front of a sold-out crowd Sunday night on Daniel Island as they closed out their 37-city Forever On Your Side Tour in Charleston. 

We were on the floor, standing with the crowd closest to the stage and it was awesome. The band delivered a dazzling show of lyrics and lights, which included countless hits such as "Washed by the Water," "TESTIFY," "HARD LOVE," "Multiplied," "Brother," "The Outsiders," "CLEAR," "LET’S STAY HOME TONIGHT," "Great Night," and so many more.  They’ve polished not only their stage presence with additional risers and ramps for the members to walk around while performing, but also enhanced the backdrop and light show to include giant screens with animated drawings and images by Bo, various photos and close-ups of each artist. Built in to the stage set are rays of light which added a unique vertical element throughout the show.

A more poignant part of the evening was their pre-opener video clip of OneWorld Health, an organization that works to to provide quality, affordable healthcare to people in East Africa and Central America. Over the last eight years, NEEDTOBREATHE has partnered with OneWorld Health and helped to open two NEEDTOBREATHE Medical Centers in Tola and Jinotega, Nicaragua. It’s nice to see a popular musical group showcase an organization like this prior to taking the stage.

When the show started, the lights go out, the large screens show stunning close-ups of horses running wild, their manes flowing, their hooves pounding the dust – this seems to be an ongoing theme – not just the wildness of the horses, but the power and beauty they inspire. Earlier in their career, they released Live Horses, a 5-song collection of live recordings following the release of The Outsiders. A fabulous line in “Great Night” pays homage again with lyrics: “I'll be the cowboy on the white horse/And if we don't drown when we're swimming ashore/I'll be the first in line to get us some moreMaybe they like the freedom of the Outlaw life.  Or, maybe it’s freedom of expression through music.  Either way, the horses are a beautiful, powerful opening visual.

And so, these guys have really perfected their show. Bassist Seth Bolt is one of the most amazing bass guitar players to hit the music scene, having found his niche with this special band. Delivering intense and beautifully melodic riffs, Seth’s talents have surely helped solidify NEEDTOBREATHE’s unique sound. 

Bo Rinehart struts around the stage with his guitar as though the music has taken over his body, wriggling and dancing throughout each song, slamming through some serious riffs. He plays a mean banjo as well. The audience reacted in enormous cheers and applause when he took to playing.

Josh Lovelace is the piano man, his keyboard artistry and super talent evident in the musical mix, and he also supplies his serious backup vocals. He’s the one slightly in the back. You have to look a little harder for him, but make no mistake he’s every bit one-fourth of this fabulous band.

Bear Rinehart is the lead vocalist, with a voice so powerful that he’s a version of Joe Cocker meets Bruce Springsteen.  He not only plays a killer guitar but he heightens various songs with his soulful and emotionally charged harmonica skills.

The band has a finely tuned sound of vocal harmonious perfection, instrumental synergy and overall delivers crushing music with crushing lyrics. Several of the people around us had driven as far away as Boston to see this particular NEEDTOBREATHE show, wanting to be a part of the last stop on the tour. Another group of people had seen them three times on the tour, including at Red Rocks. They have faithful followers passionate about a various member of the band, or the band as a whole, or a particular song that was meaningful to them.

NEEDTOBREATHE delivered 100% on every song they played for the Charleston audience. Certain favorites brought enormous cheers, applause, and screams with most people singing along to just about every song. One of the most memorable stage elements was Bear singing “Difference Maker” from above the stage, in a silver sequin jacket that reflected bright rays of light out across the audience. This special sight delivered its message in a way that just standing on the stage would not have done. I am not sure who came up with that idea to be a shining star, or the North Star, or the star of Heaven, but it was powerful and unique and mesmerizing.

The NEEDTOBREATHE Members-Only Facebook group has been posting fun videos and photos before, during and after every concert, including the one here in Charleston. Many people express joy over the positive messages that infiltrate the music, such as on "HARD LOVE," "hold on tight a little longer/what don’t kill you makes you stronger/get back up cause it’s a hard love” Another posting indicates how the gorgeous song, "BE HERE LONG", has helped through loss, with beautiful and touching words including, “close my eyes and think of you/go to sleep and dream of you/we don't get to be here long... I know you found the promised land /but I’m still here and I’m missing you.”

The Grammy-nominated "Brother", co-written by Bear and Bo, is a heart-stopper, especially when you watch the two brothers share their message of love and support for each other. That song resonates across the world with its message to help one another through good times and bad.  Other emotionally charged and uplifting songs “TESTIFY” and “Multiplied” remind us of a higher power and to stay strong and keep the Faith.  The lyrics alone could be a prayer anyone would feel better saying.

Recently the Rinehart brothers have relocated from Charleston to Nashville, but the native South Carolina foursome are on their way to becoming a household name. It’s nice to be able to see them now before they are that famous. They are beautiful, humble, grateful, sincere guys – family men, friends - driven to deliver great music with meaningful, soulful and beautifully delivered lyrics.  Next time they are in a town near you, put it on your calendar to go and see them. 

You can Google the band’s name to see dozens of articles, countless video interviews and photos from numerous tour locations – which by the way include Red Rocks in Colorado, the Greek Theatre in Los Angeles, and so many more. We are just so lucky they originated from the great state of South Carolina.