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Switchfoot live!

| May 24, 2012 | 0 Comments

North Central College’s barely-3-year-old venue simply named the Recreation Center/Residence Hall (picture a really big high-school gym) hosted its first concert ever on Sunday night, when San Diego’s Switchfoot came to Naperville. The 90-minute setlist was curiously devoid of any songs from the band’s first three albums, and instead included tracks from their last five releases, most of them off the quintet’s breakout The Beautiful Letdown and 2011’s Vice Verses.

Frontman Jon Foreman, with his brother/bassist/co-vocalist Tim at his side, once again proved that very little manipulation is done with this band in the studio, especially vocally. The Foremans are still able to confidently nail everything from the raucuous anthems to the tender ballads, all in their signature raspy style. Jon was also very comfortable relating to the college-and-younger crowd, finding the right balance of helping them feel like he truly engaged them, without every getting preachy or long-winded. At one point he did more than interact verbally with the audience, as he ventured deep into the crowd, almost to the back row, just walking on chairs and giving high-fives — all the while belting the chorus to the recent hit “Restless” (“I am restless; I’m searching for you”).

Switchfoot started in 1997 as an outright “Christian rock” act, signing with a Christian label. By their fourth release, a major-label deal with Columbia struck crossover success via a number of Top-40 hits. They strive for this crossover success to retain a positive, spiritual vibe, and this came through at the show. Foreman introduced nearly every song as being meant to offer an inspiring message (from “Your Love Is A Song” to “Meant To Live” to “Dare You To Move” to “Afterlife”). And the three small video screens weren’t used to show anything too edgy, but provided a strong-yet-simple support for the live music in the smaller venue.

The band’s biggest mistake may have been in choosing a too many ballads, and never attempting more than two upbeat rockers in a row and preventing the crowd from fully letting loose. One of Switchfoot’s biggest hits, “The Sound” (featured in various NFL commercials, etc.) was the perfect choice for the closer, and did lead to both the band and the audience showing some serious energy — of which there could have been more.

— Carter Moss

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Category: Featured, Live Reviews, Weekly

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