Concert Review for Switchfoot

            On their recent tour, Switchfoot set out to do something a lot of bands don’t do: they wanted to play their new album “Hello Hurricane” from start to finish. As a newly independent band, Switchfoot worked long and hard on their latest record and felt so strongly about it, they wanted to share every single song with the live audience.

            The Parish is a small club in downtown Austin, but Switchfoot wouldn’t have it any other way. The band has expressed how much they enjoy the intimate setting of the smaller venues. The closeness was felt all night, beginning with “Needle and Haystack Life.” As the band took their assigned spots on stage, Jon Foreman began singing the first verse of the song from within the crowd, up against a wall with a spotlight upon him. Once he made his way to the stage, the band then went full force into their current single “Mess of Me.” Following this was the worshipful, “Your Love is a Song.” Jon said, “I’ve come to the conclusion that I write songs about things I don’t understand; namely God and girls. So, this is a song about grace.”

            The band’s tribute to humanitarian and civil rights activist John M. Perkins, “The Sound,” rocked the house and the crowd. “I’m continually looking for heroes in our modern day, people that I look up to,” Jon said. Next up was “Enough to Let Me Go,” a song that seemingly points to family’s support of the band even when they are on the road for such long periods of time. The thought-provoking and heavy “Free” was another rocker. Jon began the song by quoting lyrics from a previous Switchfoot song, “Happy is a Yuppie Word.” As Jon shouted “Nothing is sound,” bassist Tim Foreman took on the roll of percussionist and banged on a war-like drum, perhaps symbolizing the inner struggle and fight-against-self that “Free” speaks about.

            The title track, “Hello Hurricane,” provided for much fun as Jon strummed on a mandolin and Jerome Fontamillas flexed his keyboard skills by creating some 80s synth sounds. In all seriousness, however, the song speaks of the “storms” we face in life and encourages us to never give up hope. “Hello hurricane, you’re not enough. Hello hurricane, you can’t silence my love. I’ve got doors and windows boarded up. All your dead end fury is not enough, you can’t silence my love.” The beautiful and uplifting “Always” found Jon sitting at the keyboard, a sight that I personally have never known in all of the years I have been a fan of the band. Jon has described this song as a journey; one where it starts at birth, then travels through the tough times in life, and then recognizes that we only have one life and every breath is a second chance. The high-energy “Bullet Soul” prompted Jon to jump in front of the speakers and borrow a fan’s Fedora hat to complete his suave look.

            “Yet” featured Jerome on the accordion and Chad Butler up close and personal, with his percussion close to the stage. Jon teased, “This is the closest Chad has ever been to the front of the stage. We keep moving him closer, little by little.” Switchfoot then silenced the crowd with the solemn, but powerful “Sing It Out.” The live-album showcase came to a close with “Red Eyes,” which included a loud and energetic finish. After this, Jon told the crowd, “We’re going to leave for a minute and whatever song y’all are singing when we come back, we’ll play it.” Unfortunately, the Austin audience wasn’t so decisive or in an agreeing mood. After several minutes of random song excerpts and shouting of song titles, the band came back on stage, wearing smiles. Having enough of the disunity, Jon asked a fellow up front, Daniel, what song he wanted to hear. “This is Home” was the final verdict. Jon told the audience, “I think y’all need a leader like Daniel over here…”

            The band then played some of their hit singles, “Meant to Live,” “Stars” and “Oh! Gravity.” As a special treat, Jon then played one of his own solo tracks, “Your Love is Strong,” followed by the always moving “Twenty-Four.” They then rounded out the set with perhaps their most popular song, “Dare you to Move.” As the band left the stage to the sound of roaring applause, they weren’t finished just yet. The crowd chanted at the top of their lungs, “One more song!” and Switchfoot was humbly inclined to play just a few more tunes for a city who very much loved them.

            The distinctive and driving bass line to “This is Your Life” filled the small club and Jon once again ventured into the crowd and led hundreds of fans in singing, “This is your life, are you who you wanna be?” The excitement didn’t stop there, and energy levels became even more elevated as Jon stood in the middle of the venue and conducted the band and crowd for “Awakening,” And the club certainly awakened as this final performance was the most powerful and lively.

            Having seen Switchfoot six times in concert now, I can confidently say that the band only gets better and better with each tour and with each album. The performance of “Hello Hurricane” as a complete record and the energy and passion the band brings to the stage combined for a wonderful night of music, deep-thinking, and artistic movement. As John Perkins says, “Love is the final fight,” and Switchfoot shows that love through music and compassion better than anyone.

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