Almost 6,000 strong packed the Verizon Theatre at Grand Prairie this past Saturday night, October 22 to experience the Tour de Compadres 2016 concert event headlined by high-energy Southern Christian rockers NEEDTOBREATHE, featuring Dove-award winner Mat Kearney and including up-and-comers Parachute and Welshly Arms. Tour de Compadres is a tour concept created by Christian rockers and multiple-Dove award winners NEEDTOBREATHE in 2015.
The nearly 4-hour show got underway about 7 p.m. with Welshly Arms greeting the growing crowd filtering into the Verizon Theatre. Since opening in 2002, Verizon has become a local mainstay featuring intimate live concerts. The 6,350-seat indoor venue is anchored amid Lone Star Park and the Ballpark at Grand Prairie, home of the AA minor league baseball team the Texas AirHogs.
Hailing from Cleveland, Ohio, Welshly Arms is a six-piece group mixing their passion for blues with infectious rhythm, a dose of soul, and plain old good rock and roll. Their fresh sound and songs representing their Midwestern roots can be heard on songs like “Legendary,” “Bad Blood,” and “Hold On I’m Coming.”
The eclectic sound of Parachute provided the second leg of the warm-up leading to headliners NEEDTOBREATHE. The Virginia rockers got the crowd jumping and singing along with songs like “She Is Love,” “Without You,” and the groovy “What Side of Love.”
Mat Kearney, a native of Eugene, Oregon, nearly brought the house down during his third leg of the night’s rock-n-roll relay. Backed by a tight group of consummate musicians, Kearney electrified the crowd with “Air I Breathe,” “One Black Sheep,” “Closer to Love,” “Hey Mama,” and “Ships In the Night.” Kearney’s soulful voice, hip-hop beats, and contagious personality elevated the crowd to an ecstatic high in advance of the night’s headline act. In a highly anticipated performance, the 2006 and 2007 Dove Award winner delivered in full, taking no prisoners.
Two plus hours into the show, after the crowd had been warmed up into a frenzy, NEEDTOBREATHE exploded onto the stage with a sonic boom announcing their presence in the building. Brothers Bear and Bo Rinehart led the charge of the South Carolina rock-n-roll onslaught that also featured longtime bandmates Seth Bolt and Josh Lovelace. Playing several songs from their newest release “Hard Love,” the Christian rockers answered the call, doubling down on what the warm-up acts had antied up earlier that evening. The crowd sang along to favorites like “Happiness” and rocked out to a set including “Money & Fame,” “Testify,” “Multiplied,” “Don’t Bring That Trouble, “Hard Love,” and an encore featuring “Brother.” The rockers poured it all out on stage, leaving nothing behind.