I was glad to see that Switchfoot would be coming to Tucson for their Looking for America tour in support of the newest album. Instead of a festival show (the last time I saw them was at the Pima County Fair). I was glad to see I didn’t have a scheduling conflict to mess this up (as has frequently been the problem).
In preparation for the show I wanted to become familiar with both the new album, and Reliant K. Spotify seemed to conspire against me. It appears that I needed an update, but with the horrendous sound I wasn’t going to spend much time on there. Thankfully I got the email from Switchfoot about their Live in Chicago digital release. It is a great live album, and I made sure I ordered early so I could get the live version of The Sound (John Perkins’ Blues) which is one of my favorite songs.
While looking at tickets I was concerned since it said the show was from 7 pm to 1 am. This seemed unlikely unless they had a bunch of opening acts that were not disclosed. The day of the show I got a Facebook reminder, and the time was from 7-10 pm. Only 3 hours for 2 sets with a stage change in there too? I was a bit concerned.
This was my first show at the Rialto. My friend noted they used to have theater seats in the back. That would have been great, particularly during the intermission. The sloped floor made standing for 3+ hours tough for this aging man.
Reliant K hit the stage at about 7:35 and play until about 8:40. For me it was a long hour since I really didn’t know the songs. They sound to me like a pop-punk band. The songs were generally shorter, usually fast and not much in the way of solos (I love a good guitar solo). There were pockets of serious fans in the audience as they bounced up and down and waved their hands. While it was “lost” on me doesn’t mean it wasn’t a good show.
I felt bad for the guitarists, they seemed to have a difficult time staying in tune despite frequent instrument changes. I struggled to understand the lyrics. One song I understood was about technology and the loss of presence in the moment. It was ironic with the people taking pictures and taping the show. There was an interesting one at the end of the show about dealing with girls and all those emotions. They did have plenty of energy, and props, but I thought the guitarists spent too much time with their backs to the crowd.
All those props- grill, giant white buffalo etc.- slowed down the stage change. I was surprised with they left the drum kit on the side of the stage. Usually his drum kit is center stage, but maybe Chad’s mustache got him banished over there. (Looking at pictures I took from the Pima County Fair, he’s over on the left…. )
The set mostly followed Live in Chicago with some additions (Dark Horses, Twenty-Four, When We Come Alive and Dare You to Move). The only song from Chicago they didn’t play was Hello Hurricane. It stared with Jon offstage for the first verse of Holy Water. It was a slow start to the show. Drew and Jerome didn’t quite seem engaged yet (hyper-focused?). This would change. Tim was active, as usual. I really like his bass line in Float.
The new songs sounded great live. They were generally more aggressive. Drew had some longer solos on songs like Bull in a China Shop and The Sound. As usual, Jon was often down by, or in, the audience. He was body surfing during Float. The older songs, though few, held up well, particularly Meant to Live. I was disappointed there was nothing from Nothing is Sound, which in my opinion was their best album.
One interesting aspect was this is the Looking for America Tour, but they didn’t play this song. Most likely this was since LeCrae was featured on the vocals. The theme really seemed to be Where the Light Shines Through, which popped up in a few other songs. While I appreciated Jon’s comments about being able to disagree with people and still remain friends, I think he went a bit far in saying “brothers”. I take that as “brothers in Christ” which may or may not be true. But people should be able to disagree about the things he mentioned and remain friends, fellow Americans (if they are) and in most cases fellow Christians. This focus is probably a big part of why The Sound is in the set. Unfortunately this mid-song musings, were not very clear. On the Live in Chicago version, they were able to make it clear. He speaks about hatred and violence breeding hatred and violence. There was a nice reference to Amos (and MLK) with justice rolling down, and then the Declaration of Independence- “we hold these truths to be self-evident”. All while Drew’s feedback rolls over the audience.
It was a fun show. The songs were heavily weighted to the new album. But it was a short show (about 1 hr. 20 min). It was also a LOUD show. During Reliant K I had ear plugs in. There was a loud, distorted bass or keyboard should that frequently drowned out the guitars. There was less of that during the Switchfoot show. But I took out the ear plugs, and my ears are still ringing this afternoon. But the sound was so much better without the plugs. Switchfoot continues to put on good shows, but short shows.
Meant to Live
Bull in a China Shop
Where the Light Shines Though
I Won’t Let You Go
Love Alone is Worth the Fight
If the House Burns Down Tonight
When We Come Alive
Live it Well
Dare You to Move