Switchfoot Fading West Tour Review
By Lesa Browning
Switchfoot recently played two sold out dates, back to back, in Washington State. I was lucky enough to attend both. Combined with watching their documentary and attending two meet and greets that included sound check, it was almost like having my own Switchfoot Fading West music festival!
For those who are unaware, Switchfoot set out on a trek around the world, seeking out the best surf destinations and at the same time, the making of their ninth album, Fading West. They did it all while making a documentary by the same name. You can download the documentary on www.iTunes.com to see how they were inspired to write this album, great behind the scenes footage of the band and some phenomenal cinematography. It is much more than a surf documentary.
The concerts were in Seattle and Spokane and I attended VIP sound checks with band meet and greets at both locations. Both concerts were supported by Sweden’s The Royal Concept. (reviewed separately)
As I waited in the VIP line, scoping out the crowd, I was struck by the people waiting. They were quite diverse. In front of me a pair of young adults, sisters who could not hide their enthusiasm as Switchfoot fans. These girls could talk music like true professionals. (I gave them each a business card and hope they contact me!) They were on fire for this band and their excitement was contagious. Then there was the pair from Oregon that came by with a thank you poster and a bundle of neon sharpies asking everyone to sign, a gift to the band. They planned to present it when they saw their second show in their home state. They also told me they were long time devoted fans. We made friends with two moms in line behind us, holding spots for teenage daughters. The teens were the ones who introduced the parents to the music of Switchfoot, a band together longer than these girls have been alive. It seemed everywhere we looked someone had a story to tell about how they were inspired or moved by the music, but for different reasons. It was cool.
The soundcheck was awesome. We actually watched them check the sound, not just mess around for the benefit of the “VIP” guests. The band was very friendly and answered a few questions. When finished we all lined up for photos. The VIP coordinator passed out posters of the band. Because each member signs the poster and actually takes the time to meet their fans it takes a few minutes. This gave a couple of the band members some time to talk to whoever was “on deck.” I noticed Drew was particularly friendly with fans at both venue’s and we were no exception. Soon it was our turn and we went down the line, shaking hands and meeting each member. Getting a signature on our posters and making a little small talk. It was genuine and just plain fun!
*The band photographer took these great photos for everyone in the VIP group, we downloaded them from the band Facebook page. I brought my daughter once and my sister-in-law the other time….. I wonder if the band just thought I was a crazy groupie??
Before long it was FINALLY time for the concert to begin. Let me tell you, if there was any doubt about what “type” of band these guys are, I would be happy to clear it up for you. They are a ROCK band. Plain and simple, these guys know how to preform. Of course they have some experience, it is their ninth album and they have done more than a few tours. Seasoned in this case does not mean tired. Switchfoot brought their A game and I was so proud when I heard a teen near me exclaim “wow! I can’t believe they are so OLD and can still do this!” (we are about the same age…) This was when Jon was climbing all over the rails between the sections of the general admission crowd in Seattle. It was impressive….
They played old stuff, new stuff and everything in between. The show is big. Lots of lights, never a dull moment. The guys have a way of getting the crowd going from the moment they take the stage. I am pretty sure they had everyone on their feet dancing from the start. They have learned to not be shy. Ask the crowd to get up, clap, sway, sing along and the will! It really felt like they could have done they same in a huge arena and gotten the same reaction. They have an amazing ability to just rock out and get the crowd going wild. In Seattle I had a family to my left with two kids, one a young girl just dancing and singing every word. Her mom was beaming proudly. Later I asked if she had a good time and she proudly told me she was ten and it was her first concert, it was “awesome!” To my right a 50 ish dad with his son. The dad was doing some serious jamming, throwing up some rocker signs and really getting into the music. The son was shockingly not horrified to be there with dad. All this was in the “dry” section of the venue, no booze. Later in Spokane we would see a very cool couple who had to be in their 70’s doing some serious rocking out in the upper balcony – they were thrilled when Jon made his way up to the “cheap seats” and stayed for a while.
Bottom line, we all had a great time. The music of Switchfoot is inspiring, positive, invigorating.
I don’t personally know these band members, but I sure feel like I do. They are nice people. You just can’t fake that level of sincerity two nights in a row : )
Switchfoot is an American Alternative Rock band from San Diego, CA. Active since 1996 when the band was started by Jon Foreman (lead vocals/guitar), his brother Tim Foreman (bass guitar/backing vocals) and Chad Butler (drums) the band was originally called “Chin Up” but quickly became Switchfoot. The new name is a fitting one as all members are avid surfers and Switchfoot if a surfing term meaning to switch your feet and change direction. Changing direction is not unfamiliar to the band. Playing mostly to the Christian Rock scene in the early days, Switchfoot gained mainstream exposure in 2002 with the film “A Walk to Remember” where their hit Only Hope was featured by lead Mandy Moore as well as three of the band’s other songs. Exposure gave rise to popularity and Switchfoot’s audience continued to grow and change. Tim Foreman told Rolling Stone magazine in 2003 “We are Christian by faith, not by genre.”
Will they ever play a huge arena as a headliner? I don’t know, they have not had a Billboard top 100 hit since 2005, but who cares? Certainly not their fans. Honestly I am not sure Switchfoot cares all that much. They seem to be very happy to be bringing their music to their fans in the way they choose to do it. I think they have much to offer to a very diverse group of music fans. What I saw on my Switchfoot weekend was all Rock band, no label needed.
They were just great!
You can find out more at www.Switchfoot.com
Switchfoot was supporting a great charity while streaming the Seattle concert. The Melodic Caring Project brings live concerts to sick children and teens. I encourage everyone to support www.melodiccaringproject.org @MelodicCaring
* edited to add: The following weekend I attended Edgefest24 in Dallas, Texas. Switchfoot was on the lineup along with pretty much exclusively Alternative Rock artists. I was curious to see who would know “my guys” and how they would be received. I was thrilled to see that they were very well received and while the crowds were not shouting out the lyrics to every song, I did hear many people say “Oh, I love this song!” Way to go Switchfoot!