Fading power can’t stop Switchfoot

A review of Switchfoot at the Wilbur Theatre on October 8, 2013

, Contributing Writer

Electrical problems at the Wilbur Theatre couldn’t slow down San Diego’s Switchfoot on Tuesday night, putting on a short but memorable set in front of a packed crowd at the Tremont Street venue. The “Fading West” tour featured the band’s documentary film of the same followed by a thrilling 11-song set that accentuated the intimate feel of the night.

The night began with the “Fading West” documentary, a film intent on showing you the texture of the personalities that make up the band, the ocean, and little else. However, sparkplug frontman Jon Foreman’s vibrant and upbeat personality is enough to keep anyone entertained for over an hour. The film, which was directed by drummer Chad Butler, highlighted cinematically gorgeous shots of the band traveling around the world, surfing in exotic locations such as Bali, New Zealand and South Africa. The ocean waves and sunsets were central, as the band experimented with new songs and talked about their journeys, especially focused on Foreman’s Christian faith. Just as its so present in the band’s catalogue, questions on life are a big focus of the film too. In light of a health scare with his young daughter in the movie, his faith was tested greatly, to which he declared, “Both faith and doubt are equally logical choices in the face of tragedy. Faith is the choice to believe rather than doubt. Is it worth it?” The rest of the night would give the audience the opportunity to wrestle with these questions.

The main set began with the upbeat track “The Sound”, which would become much more ironic than the band expected. Foreman struggled to keep the energy up as the theater’s house system produced horrific feedback and cut-outs from both the main microphone and the frontman’s acoustic guitar. He put the guitar down and ran around the stage, only to have the sound of feedback drain out the song. A very strange situation would only get more difficult as the show progressed but and Foreman handled it brilliantly, exuding with his famous charm.

Explaining that “the point of this tour is to bring a California campfire to Boston”, Foreman had the entire band turn off their instruments and huddle around each other in the middle of the stage for an awesome rendition of “Hello Hurricane”, featuring just the harmony of their voices, an acoustic guitar and an accordion. The crowd loved it and sang along to the poppy hit. It seemed as though Foreman was hoping that this moment would give the frantic house techs the chance to fix the sound problems, but the solution wasn’t to be found quite yet. Foreman was informed by someone on the stage that the entire venue had lost power, other than a generator that was keeping the dimmed house lights on. The calm Californian improvised again, leading the crowd into their biggest hit “I Dare You to Move”, entirely acoustic with the help of the backing vocals of the audience. In an amazing moment halfway through the song, the lights, backing videos, and the house audio came back in, causing the crowd to go wild and bringing the rest of the band back to life.

The rest of the set went extremely well, especially the three new songs from the Fading West EP. Each were well received by the audience and fit in nicely with the older hits. “Who We Are” was extremely tight with lead guitarist Drew Shirley’s excellent lead riff, while bassist Tim Foreman displayed his impressive skills on “BA55” as his brother declared, “at this point the setlist means nothing”. The main set came to a close with crowd favorite “Meant to Live” as Foreman walked across tables in front of the stage to make his way into the crowd, where he exchanged his fedora for a fan’s Red Sox hat.

Switchfoot completed their two-song encore with “Where I Belong”, which Foreman introduced by saying, “I write a a lot of songs about hope; maybe that’s why I’m a Red Sox fan”. From his surfing skills exhibited in his chase of the biggest waves and best adventures to the nonchalance with which he brushed aside the major electrical problems to start the set, Jon Foreman proved he just might be the coolest man in music.

1. The Sound
2. Hello Hurricane
3. I Dare You to Move
4. Love Alone is Worth the Fight
5. The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
6. Who We Are
7. Dark Horses
8. BA55
9. Meant to Live
10. Needle and Haystack Life
11. Where I Belong

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