Needtobreathe delivers stellar DC set

The group is currently touring for their eighth studio album

Rock group Needtobreathe took the stage at Anthem in DC on Friday night (Nov 10th) for a genre-bending set.

The band is currently on their caves tour, promoting the album of the same name. Needtobreathe (stylized NEEDTOBREATHE) opened with the title track before launching into the southern rock “State I’m In.”

Lead singer Bear Rinehart and recently added guitarist Tyler Burkum engaged in a shredding duel before launching into a revivalist “Don’t Bring that Trouble.”

Bear’s voice is a chameleon. It can deliver a growling hard rock tune (“Hard Love”), soften for a tender ballad (“Let’s Stay Home Tonight/You Can Always Come Home”) or the South Carolina native can twang it up for some country flavor (“Bad Decisions”).

Style may vary, but Needtobreathe never strays from the core sound cultivated over 20 years. Nothing feels out of place as the band stays true to themselves. There’s a strand of joy and hope in even their most pensive works and a knowing wink in every song about getting rowdy.

It’s clear that their authenticity is the secret to being able to straddle the line between a secular and Christian rock band. Songs like “Everknown” don’t come off like Hillsong schlock for two reasons: 1) the religiosity is barely present, and 2) they mean it. The group is not trying to force a message. They’re just telling you how they live and about life as they see it, hoping a little of that attitude will rub off.

Needtobreathe does put their lives on the big screen for all to see during a particularly fun moment. During the new song “Wasted Time,” comedic TikTok-style videos showed a slice of each of them killing time in various ways.

An acoustic set of numbers from Caves (stylized all lowercase) followed. The most personal song was “West Texas Wind,” which Rinehart wrote in 2020 and which he considers a prayer.

After “Fall on Me,” which highlighted their partner charity For Others, the group kicked it into high gear again with fan favorite “The Outsiders.” They plowed through about eight more songs before ending the night with their biggest hit, “Washed by the Water.”

At the Anthem on this night, Needtobreathe played their biggest DC-area show ever, having hit the region over 40 times, according to Rinehart. Throughout the night, Rinehart told the crowd, “This night is whatever you want it to be.” But it’s obvious from the way the crowd let immersed themselves, that Needtobreathe’s music is whatever they need it to be, too.

Matt Bailey
Matt Bailey

Matt Bailey is podcast producer and writer located in the Northeast. Since 2013, Bailey has produced more than 160 episodes of his own online radio show, Talk For Two. In 2016 alone, he interviewed Kevin Bacon, Crystal Gayle, Bob Barker, and Gilbert Gottfried, among several other stars. As a Correspondent for The Music Universe, his focus is Broadway, country music and concert reviews.