NEEDTOBREATHE performed at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul Oct. 27. Pawlyshyn and friends were down front and up close. | Photo submitted by Madison Pawlyshyn

NEEDTOBREATHE is more than a band

Bethel students find meaning in the folk-rock band that recently played a show at the Roy Wilkins Auditorium in St. Paul.

By Maddie Christy | Royal Report

For Madison Pawlyshyn, NEEDTOBREATE is more than just a band. They are a group that reminds her of jam sessions in the car, comfort in the face of family loss and a way to connect with her dad every time she has a chance to go home

“We definitely bond over music a lot,” she said of her dad. “A lot of times when I come home we’ll listen to old CD’s and he’ll show me some of his favorite songs and I’ll show him some of mine. The song Brother is a song I have listened to for a long time kind of as a pick me up and when I need some encouragement. When my uncle passed away, my dad’s brother, me and my dad would always play that song because it reminds us of my uncle a lot. There is definitely significant meaning in it for us.”

In the crammed bar in downtown Minneapolis, the middle schooler overlooked the band from the edge of the balcony. She saw one of the first showings of the South Carolina based folk-rock band. Her uncle first introduced her to the band when he brought his family and hers to the small gig years ago. Pawlyshyn’s dad was the first member of the family to really get into the band. He fell in love.

“My dad just started buying every CD. He is the one who always plays them in the car. My dad definitely got me interested in them,” Pawlyshyn said.

Over the past six years, Pawlyshyn has grown to love them almost as much as her dad. Although, she isn’t sure which one of them is the biggest fan-girl. Their common love for NEEDTOBREATHE has been something they have been able to bond and connect over for years.

“The overall atmosphere of the concert was breathtaking. It was very beautiful. It’s something I’ll always remember. It was hands down my favorite concert ever. It was just so personal because it was a compact venue, and they were such great crowd-pleasers.”–Maddie Pawlyshyn, Bethel sophomore.

To Pawlyshyn, NEEDTOBREATHE will always be a band that reminds her of him.

On Thursday, she got a chance to see them in concert again. The band is currently wrapping up their Tour De Compadres, traveling with fellow acts Parachute and Mat Kearney. The show features their newest album, HARD LOVE. In the Roy Wilkins Auditorium, they played their dance-inspired album to an excited crowd that was bigger than any other they had ever performed to before.

“The overall atmosphere of the concert was breathtaking. It was very beautiful. It’s something I’ll always remember. It was hands down my favorite concert ever. It was just so personal because it was a compact venue, and they were such great crowd-pleasers,” said Pawlyshyn.

Fellow Bethel concert-goers echoed Pawlyshyn’s sentiments.

Claire Swenson, a freshman at Bethel and a fan of 3 years, said, “I would rate this concert a nine! I am a really big fan of NEEDTOBREATHE, so this was the third concert I have seen, and it was the best so far!”

Likewise, Carmen Syverson, a freshman at Bethel, said, “I have to give it a 9, but if I had been on the floor I would for sure give it a 10.”

“I think if they called themselves a Christian band, it would scare secular listeners into running away.”

For all of these fans, NEEDTOBREATHE gives them a way to worship through music. They are not just another rock band to listen to. It has been debated by many whether the group is Christian or not, even though they don’t self-identity as a Christian band. Fans patrol the internet to defend naysayers who discredit the spirituality of the band. Interviewers directly as the band to label themselves. The members always manage to avoid boxing themselves into a certain stereotype. Many wonder in a packed-out stadium, how many people are there to hear Christian music, or just good music.

“I think if they called themselves a Christian band, it would scare secular listeners into running away,” Syverson said. “By just being a rock band, they have a more diverse audience, but they definitely still sing about Christian themes. It’s kind of a way of ministering really.

NEEDTOBREATHE is a good old soulful, relatable band. They are growing rapidly as they pick up more traction in the secular world. New fans love their uplifting songs that make a person want to dance. While, old fans hold on to the love of the acoustic songs that hold deep meaning. Either way, it’s clear this is band that will stick around for a while, because they are more than just the average band.

“Their music is so relatable. They are a pick me up. It doesn’t matter what your religion is,” Pawlyshyn said.