By Patrick Bogans ￼
August 19, 2016
On Thursday night, a nearly sold out crowd of friends and fans packed the Charlotte Metro Credit Union Ampitheatre to enjoy some rock ‘n’ roll from South Carolina’s prolific rockers Needtobreathe. For the second year of their highly successful “Tour De Compadres” tour, the four-piece brought along rockers Weshly Arms, Charlotte’s own John Mark McMillan and folk-rapper Mat Kearney to the Queen City. After lively performances from all three supporters, it was time for the main guys to sweep the Charlotte crowd off their feet.
After an off-beat video introduction from a straight-laced man against a trippy background, brothers Bear and Bo Reinhart, along with bassist Seth Bolt and keyboardist Josh Lovelace triumphantly took the Charlotte stage. What came after was a powerful 17-song set that hit on all many of the band’s notable tracks from their 10+ year career.
Needtobreathe’s sound has diversified with each of their albums, each record slightly stepping away from their anthemic southern rock roots.
Their latest outing, “Hard Love” (released this past July) takes a more experimental approach. It’s a 12-track powerhouse record that incorporates a little more synth and electronic experimentation, but manages to stays true to their genre of faith-based rock.
With every release, Needtobreathe bends their wave in the rock spectrum a little bit to make something new, something vivacious for their beloved fans to fall in love with. “Hard Love” is without a doubt the biggest step so far, and it pays off – especially when it comes to translating this music for a live performance.
“How are y’all feeling tonight?” Bear exclaims, wearing a black shirt with contrasting white flowers. A bold red “THE OUTSIDERS” tattoo on his arm displays prominently.
“You happy? I’m happy!” Holding the mic with two hands swaying back and forth, Bear impeccably belted his sultry, sweet vocals from the start of the show to the band’s final bow.
In a complementary fashion, his brother strummed his guitar and bounced around the stage in his blue smiley t-shirt, himself wearing a smile that put his shirt to shame.
“The combination of them is unbelievable,” Seth Bolt mentions in a short behind-the-scenes video. The Reinhart brothers have been playing music for decades, beginning the Carolinas. During the middle of their set, Bear recalled playing at Tremont Music Hall down the road, saying to the sweaty crowd: “It was ten times hotter than this. Y’all got it easy.”
Throughout the night, a heavily edited and distorted mix of careful aesthetic scenes flashed behind the band on the video board. Bo, the creative mind behind the band’s branding and design, has given the band a look and feel reminiscent to Twenty One Pilots.
The bright lights and bold visuals complemented and represented Needtobreathe’s refreshed approach to their music. Even flashes of their prior live performances appeared on the screen, showing just how far the band has come in their music and on stage since their last tour just last year.
From a triumphant performance of “Happiness” to a soft yet rising rendition of “Difference Maker,” the night transcended from a lively rock ‘n’ roll show to straight up church and worship. For many attendees that night, those two things became one in the same.
With the release of HARD LOVE, everything has dialed up to 11 for Needtobreathe. The renewed approach, the off-kilter and trippy aesthetic, the vivacious stage presence. Calling Needtobreathe’s performance “high energy” doesn’t cut it. Bear laid it all out like never before, attacking the mic with entrancing, grizzly vocals.
The rock ‘n’ rollers are deep into a renewed sound and aesthetic, but still know their roots as a southern rock powerhouse. Bear, Bo and Company are simply having fun with their fans who crave their mystifying and soulful rock music.
“Dance all night, sing all night, maybe do some stuff you’ve never done before,” Bear laughs. “If you do, we will.” Safe to say, everyone did.
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