Spirits rise as rain falls

NEEDTOBREATHE and The Oh Hellos perform at Liberty’s annual Block Party

There is a song by NEEDTOBREATHE that goes like this: “Even when the rain falls, even when the flood starts rising, even when the storm comes, I am washed by the water.”

energy — Attendees participated in carnival rides and games throughout the evening as Christian musicians performed on stage. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

Energy — Attendees participated in carnival rides and games throughout the evening as Christian musicians performed on stage. Photo credit: Courtney Russo

Those words could not have been more apt than they were at this year’s Block Party.

The annual event, hosted by Student Activities (SA), began at 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23 and featured games such as cornhole, a pushup contest, rides, campus clubs and organizations, food trucks and a concert with The Oh Hellos and NEEDTOBREATHE.

“The Ferris wheel in the rain was really fun,” Liberty freshman Mallori Ware said. “I really liked that you could see the concert from there. When you were going around, you could still be watching the concert.”

Attendees showed up in the thousands, with some waiting in front of the stage for more than two hours in order to secure a good spot for the concert.

Liberty students were not the only ones who came out for the Block Party, however.

Blake Driskill, a mother of four from Lynchburg, came with her husband to enjoy the show. She said that The Oh Hellos, a band whose music has helped her through some difficult times, were the main attraction for her.

Around 7:30 p.m., The Oh Hellos kicked off the show with one of their most popular tunes, “The Valley.”

Nathaniel Smith, pastor and tom player for The Oh Hellos, said this was the band’s first time playing in Virginia.


“The show was awesome,” Smith said. “(It was) probably the most fun show of this tour so far because we got to interact with the crowd a lot. We’d definitely love to come back.”

After The Oh Hellos finished their set, which included the songs “Trees” and “The Truth is a Cave,” NEEDTOBREATHE fans pressed in close to the stage, yelling and cheering.

The southern-rock band from South Carolina preformed on a stage decorated with teepees and oriental rugs, giving the large concert a homier, intimate feel.

Immediately following NEEDTOBREATHE’s initial appearance on stage, the clouds broke open and drenched surrounding fans.

The band played hit songs from their newest record, “Rivers in the Wasteland,” as well as old favorites.

A couple of times during the show, Bear Rhineheart, lead singer for NEEDTOBREATHE, spoke about the story behind “Rivers in the Wasteland.” Having been together for 15 years, the members of the band have spent much time together — most of it in cramped quarters. After a significant fight within the band, the members of NEEDTOBREATHE weren’t sure whether they wanted to do it anymore. God, however, had other plans.

“We ended up calling the record ‘Rivers in the Wasteland,’ which comes from a verse in Isaiah, which talks about the river,” keyboardist Josh Lovelace said. “And the river happened to us. No matter what you might be going through in your life, dark days or struggles, … there is hope.”

That hope was evident Saturday evening, as the band played songs from the new record.

“We hope people walk away realizing that not all is lost, that there is a light at the end of whatever you’re going through and that hope can be found in any circumstance,” Lovelace said.

A grand fireworks finale closed out the show. One student was overheard saying she felt that everyone was very “connected” during the show.

It is this connectivity and a sense of community that The Oh Hellos and NEEDTOBREATHE hope to cultivate among fans.

“I think that now in our society, with social media and all this, … we don’t disconnect and have conversations with people, and I think you can learn a lot about someone when you sit down and talk to them,” Lovelace said. “For college students, especially, it’s learning to set yourself up for a lifestyle of that, a lifestyle of saying ‘yes’ to things, trying new things and being open to new experiences and to relationships.”

For more information on upcoming SA events, visit liberty.edu/sa.

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