The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
Since 1888
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.
The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University

The Vanderbilt Hustler

The official student newspaper of Vanderbilt University.

My love for NEEDTOBREATHE ‘Multiplied’ with their performance at Bridgestone Arena

NEEDTOBREATHE not only performed their “Caves” tour but also displayed the true healing power of music with the honesty in their words and their lyrics.
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Sara West
NEEDTOBREATHE performs at Bridgestone Arena, as captured on Nov. 15, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West)

During the fall semester last year, I attended a One Republic concert with a couple of girls from my dorm floor. We were expecting to be blown away by Ryan Tedder’s voice, but what we did not expect was how much we would love the opener, NEEDTOBREATHE. After that concert, I was hoping I would see NEEDTOBREATHE again, and on Nov. 15 I got that chance. This year, NEEDTOBREATHE headlined Bridgestone Arena, bringing even more energy to the stage than the last time they performed there. 

The band has been together since 2001 and has performed in Nashville for over a decade, starting at venues like Exit/In. The Christian rock band has released nine studio albums, with five of those skyrocketing to No. 1 on the Christian album charts. Their stop at Bridgestone Arena showed that they have no plans to slow down, performing songs from their album that came out on Sept. 15 of this year. 

NEEDTOBREATHE’s opener Judah & the Lion was also not a stranger to Nashville, with the band members being Nashville natives. The band was formed in 2011, when the members met at Belmont University.

“This is our hometown show, we are going to give you guys everything we have,” Judah Akers said. 

Judah & the Lion showcased their personality throughout their hour-long set with a cover of “My Own Worst Enemy” by Lit. By far my favorite moment was when each member stood side by side on center stage and danced to “Snap Yo Fingers” by Lil Jon. The group showed their versatility, going from ballads to high-energy rock tracks like “Take a Walk.” The set ended with “Take It All Back,” where the audience was taught the chorus by Akers before he jumped in the pit to high-five and hug fans. Judah & the Lion held nothing back while performing and made Nashville proud with their electrifying songs and talent. 

Judah Akers of Judah & the Lion smiles after finishing a song, as captured on Nov. 15, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West) (Sara West)

Moments later, thunder erupted from the speakers, the arena went black and everyone in attendance went onto their feet as NEEDTOBREATHE made their way to the stage. The first three songs flew past, but Bear Rinehart — lead vocalist — slowed down to introduce the next song about his wife.

“Years ago, I moved to Charleston, South Carolina, and they have a lot of nice restaurants there. The first couple of months we were there we were going out what seemed like every night. So after a couple months of this, I got a novel idea. Maybe this weekend we just stay home,” Rinehart said. 

Rinehart then backed away from the microphone as he and the rest of the band started to play “Let’s Stay Home Tonight.” I was prepared for their classic rock ‘n’ roll sound, but I was surprised by the more melodic sound of “Let’s Stay Home Tonight.” Shortly after, Rinehart mentioned that the band had been together for 20 years and how he has seen music bring people together during that time.

“I don’t care what you believe, I don’t care who you voted for, I don’t care about the color of your skin. Music is one of the last places in the world where we can come in and not care about all that,” Rinehart said.

This intro led to “Who Am I,” one of the band’s most recognizable songs.

In Nashville, special guests are a common occurrence, and NEEDTOBREATHE followed suit surprising the crowd with Matthew Ramsey from Old Dominion. Ramsey joined the band to sing “Wasting Time” and the crowd was thunderous for the unexpected collaboration. NEEDTOBREATHE followed Ramsey off stage, as the arena went black to set up for the next phase of the concert, with the members of the band meeting at the center of the stage. When the band was settled, Rinehart spoke about his gratitude to be playing at Bridgestone Arena to a crowd of fans.

“Our band has no business playing somewhere like this. And I’m not trying to knock on our band. I’m just saying, we don’t have hit songs, we don’t have any celebrities in this band,” Rinehart said. “But we have over 20 years of making music that we care about, and somehow it’s turned into y’all showing up. It means the absolute world to us.”

NEEDTOBREATHE’s Bear Rinehart passionately sings into a microphone, as captured on Nov. 15, 2023. (Hustler Multimedia/Sara West) (Sara West)

They then proceeded to play “Everknown,” “Banks” and “West Texas Wind” before returning to their previous positions to finish the last leg of the concert. Rinehart sat at the piano and elaborated on the band’s work with One World Health, which began 12 years ago. Rinehart spoke more about the band’s efforts to positively impact the cities in which they play.

“We all have kids of our own, so foster care makes the most sense to us [as a charity to support] because it’s a messed up system,” Rinehart said. 

He continued to explain their relationship with the charity For Others and how they plan to give back. 

“[For Others] promised us that all the money we raise in this entire tour will stay in the cities that we’re playing in. A dollar of every ticket that you bought to a NEEDTOBREATHE show over the last 12 years has gone to charity, including tonight,” Rinehart said.

While the For Others information stayed on the screen, the group started to play “Fall On Me” and halfway through Rinehart stopped to introduce Carly Pearce who joined him by the piano. Pearce is known for her self-penned song “Every Little Thing” which elevated her career to the next level. The two sang the rest of the song while the other members of NEEDTOBREATHE continued to play. It was a truly heartfelt moment by all involved and the speech accompanied with the song moved many in attendance, including myself. 

NEEDTOBREATHE brought excitement, joy, tears and everything in between for their show. The group has a timeless message and love for music that could fit into any decade. NEEDTOBREATHE is not a band I listen to every day, but when I see them live, it’s like I have listened to them all my life. I’d encourage you to experience their performing power and adoration for music for yourself.

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About the Contributors
Chloe Pryor, Staff Writer and Photographer
Chloe Pryor (‘26) is from Fort Smith, Ark., and is double majoring in psychology and communications studies. When not writing for The Hustler, you can fund her reading, drawing or running late for class. You can reach her at [email protected].
Sara West, Senior Staff Photographer
Sara West ('25) is majoring in psychology in the College of Arts and Science and human and organizational development in Peabody College. Sara loves going to concerts, thrifting and exploring new places. She was previously Deputy Photography Director and hopes to enter the music industry after graduating.  She can be reached at [email protected].
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