Switchfoot concert defies expectations

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Photo courtesy of Facebook.
Photo courtesy of Facebook.

by Clark Caraway, Reporter

On Oct. 24, I walked into the Florida Theatre to see Switchfoot, an alternative rock band currently touring for Fading West, their new album available Jan. 14, 2014. But, the rock concert expectations I had when I walked into the theater did not prepare me for the experience that was to come.

Everyone was sitting down, which seemed strange since people usually stand up for rock concerts. I thought, “It’s okay, I’m sure everyone will stand up once the band shows up.”

As it turns out, I was completely out of the loop. The band walked out on stage and welcomed everyone to the show. They weren’t playing music yet, but they all just seemed to be having a blast. It was a delight to see. If I could only say one positive thing about Switchfoot, it would be that they always seem to know how to have a good time.

Jon Foreman, the lead singer, told the audience that instead of performing first, they would be screening the movie Fading West, a mashup of a surfer movie and a band documentary about Switchfoot’s previous tour. After the movie, the concert would begin.

I can’t say that my bemused companion and I were exactly excited to hear this, but that was more a product of our lack of knowledge of the show’s nature. The movie turned out to be thoroughly entertaining, and the screen it was projected on served as a backdrop for the live performance.

The film was beautiful to watch, especially with the focus on the band’s surfing talents, but the real entertainment came from the interactions between the band members. They were funny and seemed to be having a great time on tour. The energy they gave off from enjoying each other’s friendship translated into joy for the audience members watching it.

I think the most important thing about the film Fading West is that, by the end of watching it, I felt as though I was another member of the band. It was as if making me go through the trials and tribulations of their last tour gave me a greater understanding of them in general, which made the live performance that much more impactful.

Following the screening of Fading West was a fifteen minute intermission, during which audience members were encouraged to ask the band questions using #askswitchfoot. Over the course of the concert, some audience members had their tweets answered by the band members, which was a nice way for the band members to connect with the audience on a more personal level and elaborate on some of the themes presented during the film.

Once the music started, the entire performance seemed to come together. As a long-time fan of Switchfoot, it was great to see the combination of some of their older hits like “Meant to Live” and songs with the newer style of Fading West. The older music is harder alternative rock whereas the newer music flows freely. Fading West has a campfire sort of feel, as though the band has mellowed with age. At one point in the concert, the band crowded around one microphone for the full campfire effect, really taking advantage of the acoustic benefits of the venue.

I would definitely recommend Fading West, which is now available for pre-order. A download of the movie is, as of this writing, included as part of a Holiday Pack. Both are available on switchfoot.com along with some listening samples available before the album release.