Named after the acclaimed University of Alabama football coach Bear Bryant, Bear Rinehart and his brother Nathaniel Bryant "Bo" Rinehart were born and raised in rural Possum Kingdom, South Carolina, where their father, a pastor, ran a church camp. After moving to nearby Seneca, South Carolina, the two siblings started playing instruments. The core of Needtobreathe is comprised of Bear on lead vocals, guitar and piano, Bo on guitar, and Seth Bolt on bass. The band has recorded four studio albums, the latest of which is 2011’s The Reckoning.
At the Bowery Ballroom tonight, Needtobreathe started with a bang and the show only got better as it moved along. The band opened with a hard-driving “Oh Carolina,” ultimately interweaving its “squeeze” lyrics with the chorus of the Who's "Squeezebox." The Americana influences became more evident as the show moved on, with a blues inflection on “Wanted Man” and the gospel feel of “Washed by the Water.” Later songs introduced banjo and mandolin for a series of songs that sounded like they were born in the southern hill country. Bear sang with a forceful achy-breaky gut passion, and Bo harmonized well as only a sibling could. Closing the set with “Keep Your Eyes Open” and “Difference Maker” reinforced the message that the musicians are about making uplifting statements, and the music was about feeling positive about oneself. For the one encore, the musicians gathered tightly at the lip of the stage and performed an acoustic version of the band’s popular “Something Beautiful,” singing with no microphones or other amplification. As roots rock and roll increases in popularity, Needtobreathe is the working class band to watch.
Visit Needtobreathe at www.needtobreathe.net.