Thursday, May 2, 2013

Concert Thoughts: NEEDTOBREATHE in Dallas - April 27, 2013

Why is NEEDTOBREATHE one of my favorite bands? I am still asking myself that question. For a person who spends most of their time with worship music and singer-songwriters, why do I love this band so much? Why does The Reckoning affect me at such a deep emotional level?

To be honest, I have been asking myself that question since this album came out sometime in the beginning of 2011. Is it the lyrics? Bear Reinhart's voice? The way they weave the instruments together so flawlessly?  I really don't know. After two years of pondering why I love this Christian band turned mainstream band so much, I still don't have a definitive answer. All I know is this - in my humble musical opinion, The Reckoning is a brilliant album that truly stirs my soul. I loved The Outsiders from 2009, but I have been stuck on The Reckoning for 2 years now and it will forever be one of my feel good favorites.

So when I found out Needtobreathe was going to be in Dallas again (I missed them during The Reckoning Tour), I had to be there.

I took one of my 16 year old youth from our Fort Worth church and we had a blast. What a night!

Here are a few of my favorite highlights:

#5 Stones Under Rushing Waters

The opening band for this concert was great - Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. They are an independent country (singer-songwriter) band - with inspirational songs. Their set was moving with spirited songwriting, incredible vocals, and catchy stage energy by both Drew and his wife, Ellie. My favorite songs were Live Forever, Tennessee, Fire and Dynamite, and The Wine We Drink of their opening set.

But when Ellie Holcomb came out and sang one of my favorite Needtobreathe songs with Bear, it was beyond awesome. She put everything she had into it and Bear Reinhart of NeedtoBreathe took it over the top. This duet was worth the price of admission. Period!

#4 The Subtle Way The Band Weaves Their Message Into Their Songs

For years I wasn't a fan of what we now call crossover music - Christian artists going mainstream for the purpose of putting a message out there more subtly. But now after living in the "mainstream" world in politics - I am the point where I understand it. If God calls artists to go into dark places for the purposes of shining some light - why shouldn't they? Needtobreathe had the door open for them to open for Taylor Swift all over the nation - Wow! Open Doors! Needtobreathe weaves some incredible deep messages into their songs - like in A Place Only You Can Go. I loved every moment of the truth shining out in a Southside club in Dallas.

#3 How the Christians in the audience responded to Something Beautiful

We were in a club, but when the band announced that they were going to do some "oldies", the crowd went wild. And when Needtobreathe finally broke into Something Beautiful - Yes, hands went up and people reached out for "something beautiful to touch them". It was beautiful and I was one of them!

#2 The Cross-Cultural Rebellion in their Songs

When we pulled into the parking lot at the club, I saw two bumper stickers that described a good snapshot of the Needtobreathe audience. One bumper sticker said "Ron Paul for President" and the other one said "DBU Patriots". Ron Paul lovers and Dallas Baptist University students were just part of the people that feel the rebellion in the cross culture of people who can shout out the song The Outsiders, so fully with such passion. To these people (I am included in the DBU alumni) - Needtobreathe sings an anthem of godly rebellion against a culture that has forsaken the reality of truth.

#1 The Perfect Ending - The Difference Maker

Their real encores were The Outsiders and Keep Your Eyes Open and then they shut everything down and came out with a song just acoustically that Bear described as a song that "means alot to us as a band and will be one of the highlights of our new album".

The Difference Maker is a song about people who think they are difference makers but have really built their influence with their own two hands and their own arrogance and pride.

Here are a few of the lyrics.

"Yeah, isn't it amazing how a man can find himself alone
Call into the darkness for an answer that's he's never known
Yeah, isn't it amazing how God can take a broken man
Yeah, let him find a fortune, let him ruin it with his own two hands

And he climbs on up the hill on the rock on which he stands
He looks back at the crowd
He looks down at his hands and he says
I am a difference maker

Oh, I am the difference maker
Oh, I am the only one who speaks to him
And I am the friendliest of friends of God"

This song and this concert ending made the night for me. My biggest respect and appreciation goes out to NEEDTOBREATHE.

Stay true to who you are, guys, and keep being amazing musicians, songwriters, and rebellious Christians who want to make a difference in the REAL world. You truly are difference makers. God will give you wisdom of how to communicate the TRUTH in a relevant way.

Grab their albums on ITUNES here.

The Reckoning

The Outsiders

The Heat


(This post has been edited based on the comments of danacreative and JT to correct the record and get it right)


  1. Actually, the song Difference Maker is not at all about being a difference maker. It was born out of Bear's frustration with people who consider themselves more righteous than others because they - and only they - are in tune with God. It's meant to mock the individuals who see themselves as 'difference makers', and it's a shame that the meaning of the song is lost in translation, most likely because it is such a beautiful song to listen to.

  2. danacreative is right. In the lyrics, he talks about how the man looks "at his own two hands" as in a proud, arrogant manner saying, "look what great things I've done."

    Similar to the way someone might say, "half the audience were drinking and other half were not," to infer that the good Christians were not drinking and the rebellious heathens were.

  3. You gentleman are absolutely correct and I have corrected this blog post to communicate the truth. Thank you for bringing this to my attention. Great song! Can't wait for the new album to come out. It is pre-ordered.

  4. It's interesting and a little disappointing that the song "Difference Maker" is nearly the opposite of what it sounds like because it's a pleasant song to listen to and also inspiring to those of us who do actually want to make a difference (as big or small as God would will) in the world to the glory of God. But, when broken down and translated the way you have expressed, I can see it. I almost wish they had added another verse to portray what it looks like to be a real "difference maker." Maybe something about a man who loves, suffers, goes on loving, receiving no recognition, serving til he dies without anyone even knowing he passed...

  5. I absolutely agree, Nathan. If we live like Jesus sacrificially, we will be real difference makers. If you burn for God, they come running to watch you. It isn't a pride thing - it is what God has called us to walk in.

  6. I see your both sides here... maybe there are a lot of people out there thinking they are a difference maker and God lets them shine, but when man gets too arrogant then it can be swept away in an instant as if God is saying it's not you who makes the difference. It is Jesus who was the difference maker and people need to remember where their fortune, strength, blessings, family, etc. comes from. So in a way, it is depressing and mocking to those who are fooled, but there is a wise message from Jesus in it. Helping us all to be cautious about who gets the credit. But you are right that is a beautiful song to listen to! So we will appreciate it for what it is... stirring.

  7. and yes Nathan, that would have been great! Somehow I dont think Bear will ever sum it all up like that. Part of the intricate greatness of lyrics is how they are woven and are open to interpretation. He wrote it out of frustration, but others take it from their p.o.v. and can use it as inspiration to not be a man relying on his own talent, but to give the credit to whom credit is due, for everything...

  8. I asked Bear about this during a very brief meet & greet. Bottom line is he said it's about every one of us, and I've been reflecting on that. With that in mind, here's what it means to me...

    Yes, it's about what danacreative & others posted above. But the song comes together too beautifully for something so ugly as self righteousness. It's hard for me to articulate this, but another way to interpret the lyrics is within the framework that God loves me (AND each one of us) so powerfully and so personally, even when I sin, even when I lose my faith, it's as if I'm the only one He ever created, and He put me here to make a difference. I've come to interpret it to be about both things at once - the ugliness of self righteousness and the beauty of God's love. Kind of like the brainteaser sketch of a woman who is either a witch or a princess, depending on how you look at her.

    The song really speaks to me because I feel like it's giving me TWO important messages, depending on what I need to hear when I'm reflecting on it. I would have loved to have had time to explore those themes with Bear. As a previous poster pointed out, the beauty of good lyrics is that they can have different interpretations to different people.

  9. I just heard "The Difference Maker" for the first time, and I was on the search for what the artists meaning was behind it. It is a sort of oxymoron as Janet Albert pointed out. I want to sing, and rejoice in being a difference maker because of the tone of the song, but the lyrics are off. In reality I think this is our struggle every day. We want to be the difference makers, we want the glory, and we want to rejoice in that. But in reality, we cannot do anything. We are never to be difference makers, God alone is the difference maker, and to Him all glory should be given. I absolutely adore this song. Its my new found favorite, just because of the complexity of it. The depth behind it, at least what I gain from it, is beautiful.