Just Go to the Concert

Have you ever listened to the band NEEDTOBREATHE? Even after over twenty years of incredible music, they're sometimes described as the "biggest band you've never heard of."

I've always wanted to see them in concert. A few months ago I had the chance. My oldest daughter texted me when the band released their upcoming tour dates, asking if I'd be interested in going with her and two college friends to see them. The catch? The concert was scheduled for a Wednesday night in a city three hours away. Even so, I checked my work calendar. It was the worst potential Wednesday of the semester to do such a thing, but after a few minutes, I texted her back:

"Absolutely. Get the tickets."

Was it a long day of work, followed by six hours of round-trip driving? Of course. Was I tired the next day? Undoubtedly. After gushing for a half hour about the concert, did the three teenagers with me fall asleep in the car on the way home, leaving me alone with my own thoughts for the rest of the long drive? Yes, they most certainly did.

Was it worth it? Absolutely.

Even now a few months later, I occasionally reflect upon that night. It's the only Wednesday evening of the entire fall semester I specifically remember. It would have been easy to skip if I based my decision on convenience alone, but really, how could I have passed up the opportunity? 

Of course, I've missed other opportunities, like one night in college when my roommate asked me if I wanted to go Christmas caroling at Joe Paterno's house, which was slightly under a mile from our dorm at Penn State. Of course I wanted to go, but it already was late and I had been studying for a final exam I had at 8 the next morning.

I still remember how my roommate and friends stomped snow off their boots as they entered our dorm two hours later. I hadn't moved from my desk. "How was it?" I asked.

The group was so excited that each person talked over the others:

"It was amazing!'

"We were so nervous to ring their doorbell that we stopped at three other houses to practice."

"Sue Paterno opened the door and she was in her bathrobe. She stepped outside in her slippers to plug in their Christmas lights!"

"Coach Paterno asked where we were from and we all said, 'Penn State' at the exact same time. He laughed and said, 'I gathered that. Where are you girls actually from?'"

"I can't believe it started snowing as we were singing. It was magical!"

This took place over two decades ago, but I still remember particular details, like how Joe draped his arm around Sue's shoulder as they stood in their front doorway, backlit from the warm glow of light in their house, and snow started to fall while my friends sang Silent Night.

For the life of me, the one thing I can't remember is what class I was studying for.

Sometimes you need to choose the less convenient, but better, option. I don't remember the final exam that happened then, and I won't remember run-of-the-mill Wednesday nights that happen now. But I'll always remember this one particular Wednesday night when I traveled to Pittsburgh to watch NEEDTOBREATHE in concert with my nearly nineteen-year-old daughter and her two friends. 

If there's ever another opportunity, I hope I'd do the exact same thing again. Just go to the concert.

Never heard of NEEDTOBREATHE? It's high time to remedy that. They've released too many incredible songs to list even a fraction of them, but you can't go wrong with this sampling of seven. Seriously, pause everything else you need to do today and do this first. Do it. Do it now.

Brother (perhaps their most widely-known song, for good reason)

West Texas Wind (sung poetry that'll make you feel all the feels)

Banks (a love song with a growl at 2:56 that's absolute perfection)

Hard Love (amazing vocals, amazing lyrics)

Carry Me (sounds like a prayer I want to pray daily)

Lay 'Em Down (one of their oldest, but what a wildly satisfying drop at 2:15)

Multiplied (also from the archives, and one of my personal favorites)

Actually, let's make it a sampling of eight songs, with this incredible, stripped-down, ruggedly live version of Survival (featuring Drew and Ellie Holcomb) that, as the kids these days say, absolutely slaps:

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