Switchfoot is an alternative rock band from San Diego. Other than a brief run in with mainstream success in the mid 2000s, they have managed to be a successful independent band putting out acclaimed music. Despite a hiatus and a band member getting cancer (thankfully cancer free by now), Switchfoot persevered onto their eleventh album, Native Tongue, and were making a tour stop at the Danforth supporting the album. Would the band show some wear and tear? Would it just turn into an evening of the greatest hits or a seamless medley of the old with the new?
who got the party started? (the opener)
I missed the first opener Tyson Motsenbocker. Curse the lack of street parking around Danforth Avenue on a Friday night! Colony House, the second opener, had the packed crowd of few thousands in the palm of their hands right from the start. Frontman Caleb Chapman had the swagger that is typical of bands that sell out arenas. The songs like ‘You & I, ‘You Know It’, ‘Moving Forward’ and ‘Silhouettes’ featured sing-alongs that could definitely fill corners of stadiums all across this continent.The roar and the holler from the crowd after the set made it seem like the band was a co-headliner instead of just an opening band.
this is what you came for (the headliner)
In the interest of full disclosure, I will confess to my fandom to Switchfoot. The band first surfed into my life when I found out ‘Only Hope’ (yes, THAT Only Hope) was a Switchfoot original, instead of a Mandy Moore tearjerker. The band stayed in my Top 5 for the next decade, but my loyalty wavered off upon the release of the super worshipy Where the Light Shines Through. The return to the pop-rocky sound of the last release Native Tongue reignited my interest, and the headlining set at the Danforth was a reminder of why I fell in the love with the band in the first place.
A Switchfoot show feels like a family reunion. On top of couple members being literally family (Jon and Tim are brothers), their concerts have a strong sense of intimacy and interaction between those on the stage and those in the crowd. Tonight was no different. Part of that could be due to the vulnerability in frontman Jon Foreman’s lyrics in songs like ‘Hello Hurricane’, ‘24’ and the new favourites ‘Voices’ and ‘Let it Happen’. If the songs hadn’t already connected with the thousands in attendance, Jon also made sure he physically connected with as many as possible throughout the show. After going into the first row few times mid-songs, the ageless frontman even went to the back of the room during the ethereal hymn ‘The Shadow Proves the Sunshine’. The familial vibes continued as the concert celebrated two important anniversaries. The multi instrumentalist Jerome Fontamillas had been cancer free for 2 months. It was also the 12-year anniversary of the band’s Toronto stop on the Oh! Gravity tour, that followed an impromptu performance of the title track. The night ended on the the inspirational highs from the classic ‘Dare You to Move’.
The Switchfoot show at the Danforth was more than just a concert. It was a celebration of both: the five men who have endured 20 plus years in the industry making meaningful music and the devoted ones who have supported them on this journey so far. Surely, current pop artists have fanbases like the Mendes Army or the Beliebers or the Arianators that may come and go. But, when it comes to fans of Switchfoot, you are family, and family always comes first.