Switchfoot returned to Pennsylvania this past week as part of the kick off of their fall leg of their Fading West tour. Since the album’s release earlier this year the band has been on the road almost nonstop it seems passing through the area as part of Radio 104.5’s Winter Jam (an outdoor show which featured about 4 inches of snow), a few dates on the Spring leg of the tour in March and even some appearances at various festivals in the area this summer.
It is fair to say that Pennsylvania loves Switchfoot and the band loves them back because every show has been packed in from wall to wall. This time the band played in a very classic ampitheater style venue at Bloomsburg University which made the experience for fans very unique and extremely personal allowing them to literally be leaning on the stage for most of the performance.
Being a show hosted by a University the show began rather early on a Sunday night but that didn’t keep people from coming out even earlier yet to stake out their place in line and got one of those coveted spots close up to the stage. Switchfoot has a fantastic fanbase of dedicated fans who all seem to love chatting amongst themselves and sharing stories/experiences that they’ve had seeing the band of the years. The environment in the crowd is truly one of a kind, it is less about being an audience and more about being a family all there for the same purpose. Their waiting paid off because Switchfoot came out strong for them with their usual opening track on this tour, “Say it Like You Mean It.”
From there the band launched into “Stars,” a classic and a bit more obscure track and Jon Foreman began doing what he is best known for in my opinion, engaging with the fans. Not just the fans in the front row though, I mean every fan in the venue. Multiple times he jumped off the rather high stage to go out into the crowd and the hold hands of the fans as he climbed on seats to sing the songs that they wanted to hear. But he isn’t the only member of the band who treats fans so well, Tim Foreman made sure he gave every fan in his reach some attention when he could step away from the microphone for some bass jamming and Drew Shirley did the same on the other side when he had extended guitar parts.
It is incredible to see a lead singer be able to go out into the crowd with such confidence and not need an entourage of security to go with him. The fans truly take care of Jon Foreman when he is out there, no one rushes him like crazy and no one gets in his way or makes it difficult for him to be in the crowd. His only obstacle was the numerous seats in the venue that were certainly not meant for climbing but that only slowed him down so much as he walked around getting to as many fans as possible, all the while delivering the songs perfectly and never missing a note.
The setlist was certainly a mixed back of songs spanning the band’s 7 album career but was of course heavily loaded with songs from Fading West. No complaints from me or anyone there because that album is certainly one of the defining moments in the band’s career. Switchfoot created an album that is technically perfect and artistically wonderful from start to finish and those tracks deserve to be played live because they are the songs that have really given the band a new audience and re-affirmed their older audience.
Tim Foreman actually had the chance to debut a track off the band’s EP of extra songs from Fading West titled “What is Costs,” the song is the first to feature him performing solely on lead vocals and it was stunning live performance of it. His brother, Jon Foreman, was extremely proud of him as he told the crowd and every cheered loudly when the song came to the end. Soon after Jon Foreman saw a young child a few rows of people back in the crowd and took a minute to have one of the most heart warming moments I have ever seen at a concert with him before continuing the later half of the set.
The main set came to a close with a fantastic line up of songs from Fading West, the crowd went from the sing along of “Who We Are” to the amped up choruses of “Let it Out” and slowed it down to sing “When We Come Alive.” With a flash of colorful light the band put their hands and instruments in the air as the stage turned a deep blue color as they walked off the stage to the chants of “one more song.” A few minutes later they returned to tell the crowd they had two more songs if that was alright with them and jumped right into their massive hit “Dare You to Move” which brought the crowd’s energy back up to 200% in an instant. The night ended with a sing along to “Where I Belong” and this time the band tossed guitar picks, drumsticks and gave as many fans as they could high fives before they walked off stage.
Switchfoot is a force to be reckoned with, 2014 has brought the band to a whole new level in terms of live performances and has expanded their audience of fans in so many ways. This may be the last time that Pennsylvania is treated to the Fading West tour but if the band comes back through make sure you get out to a show, you won’t be disappointed I promise you that much.
Switchfoot Setlist – September 14th
Say It Like You Mean It
Love Alone Is Worth the Fight
This Is Your Life
What It Costs (live debut)
Your Love Is a Song
Meant to Live
Who We Are
Let It Out
When We Come Alive