What is it about Switchfoot that makes you feel so empowered? Suddenly you have been given the right and the ability to change the world, you are the great mover because all you have to do is move yourself.
Each song is written with sympathy but also with a constant push, telling the listener to be more, do more or at least think more about the life at hand. Those lyrics, dripping with encouragement, are not annoying in a happy-go-lucky, the world-is-perfect sort of way, they just seem to make sense.
Though Switchfoot’s musical foundation is Christian and the influence does slip in from time to time; you don’t need to be a strict churchgoer to know where they’re coming from. The crowd at St. Louis’ The Pageant that October Saturday night was certainly diverse, but all were happy knowing that the band’s grand entrance was close at hand. Whether they were looking for a rock show or a spiritual awakening, everyone got what they came for.
After what seemed like forever, in an ecstasy of screams and hands thrown violently in the air, lead singer Jon Foreman made his way to the front of the stage. He burst into the song “Stars,” one of many recent hits, a lovely mess of guitar and powerful verse. The rock element never left the stage or the movements of the band members. They were constantly caught up in what they were playing, giving in to something spontaneous whenever possible.
After shaking the longish blond hair out of his eyes, immediately betraying him as a product of California, Foreman started introductions; extremely polite introductions. After a bit of silence he added, “So the Cardinals beat the Padres…ok …ok.” This provoked laugher and energy and since the topic was still fresh only one night after the big game. He continued to play along. “So…(as he starts strumming again) what should we tell Detroit when we go up there?” He laughed a little at the crowd’s unintelligible but obviously passionate response and then, not wanting to overstep his nice guy bounds he finished “I’ll just say hello from St. Louie.” The music escalated and he called out, “I’ve heard that before you point fingers, you should point one at yourself. Lately we have been pointing at a lot of politicians…so I guess this song is for the politicians in me.” The song, “Politicians,” stirred the crowd to become one dancing, head bobbing mass of hopefuls each looking up to their mouthpiece of hope.
Though everyone counted on songs like “Learning to Breathe” and “This is your Life” to make the list of what got played that night, Switchfoot’s set was never predictable. Songs from Switchfoot’s new album Oh! Gravity were wonderfully experimental and tastefully original, only igniting the crowd into a bigger frenzy of excitement. In the song, “Oh! Gravity,” keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas punches the keys in random order a couple times to reach a desired effect, a shocker but really fun.
After a sporadic mix of songs from Switchfoot’s slew of albums, Jon Foreman stopped the flow of music for a bit and took his chance to address the crowd. “We are trying really hard to get the music out to you faster and get you up here faster…actually…let’s get someone up here right now.” A teen sporting a Nickelback shirt was hand-picked to grace the stage of the Pageant. Sitting by the drum set, he grooved while Switchfoot played “Dirty Second Hands,” another very promising track from their new album.
Switchfoot really worked with the whole purpose of a live show, the band brings themselves closer to our level so we as fans can finally reach up for them. All in all it was a very humanizing show for Switchfoot, as sometimes their message gets too high in the clouds of righteousness. It was good to see their, passion, effort and strength up close. “Meant to Live” was another favorite, famous for having two guitars go opposite directions simutaneously and always sending chills. Foreman reached into the crowd, most of his body supported by the moving mass of kids. Those half-catching him were steady and honored to help. He had grown obviously tired by the end of the night and those holding onto him showed ultimate respect by really supporting him and not clawing for some kind of souvenir.
Soon after Switchfoot made their exit, the chant of “One More Song!” grew until the entire venue was screaming. When the band re-seized the stage for an encore the fans could not contain themselves. Everyone knew what they were about to play, the song that is a blend of true struggle and something we all want to feel and believe in, a simple song calling for complex change: “Dare You to Move” was a fantastic finale, extremely inspiring, strong till the last note, very majestic, very Switchfoot.