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Posts Tagged ‘Switchfoot’


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.

Set List:

Holy Water

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

Twenty-Four

If the House Burns Down Tonight

The Sound

When We Come Alive

Encore:

Float

Live it Well

Dare You to Move

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I hadn’t seen Switchfoot live since before the release of Nothing is Sound in 2005. That was at the short-lived Cypress Gardens Adventure Park (now Legoland). That night they previewed Stars which is still one of my favorite Switchfoot songs.

Since then there have been a series of lost chances and bad chances. For awhile, they only placed festivals in FL, like Rock the Universe. Most of the bands at those events don’t really interest me.

Then in early 2010 they would be in concert close enough in FL to get my hopes up during the Hello, Hurricane tour. Then I realized I would actually be in AZ finalizing things for my new position. So I checked their tour dates to see when they would be in AZ. There was one coming up, while we were driving from FL to AZ.

The last 5 years have seen a similar pattern of festivals and concerts when I was unable to make it (like on at Grand Canyon University). This may be for my good: the saving of my hearing.

When I saw there was a tour with NeedToBreathe I looked at the dates. Nothing near me. So I was surprised when a short time later my wife called to say they would be playing in Tucson. I was surprised. There was nothing on their website, but I found it on the local KLOVE website. Yes, they would be at the Pima County Fair, the night before presbytery.

Argh! I thought. The Choir and Mike Roe would be Phoenix in June for the 25th anniversary of the Circle Slide album Tour. It is the night before I leave for General Assembly so CavWife put the kibosh on that. I thought this might suffer a familiar fate since it would most likely be an overnight trip. Maybe she felt a tinge of guilt, but she actually encouraged me to go. It helped that my session meeting on Tuesday night had been postponed.

I’ve lived here for 5 years and have yet to go to the fairgrounds for ANYTHING including the fair. So on Wednesday night I made the drive south of town into the veritable middle of nowhere to the fairgrounds. It is very easy to get to. Parking was not bad. $5 for parking and $8 for admission made this a $13 concert for me. It was also an hour closer than Phoenix.

I endured the slow-moving crowds to make my way to the main stage. They were the only act. I was about 40 minutes early and camped out between the preferred seating (about $10 extra bucks) and the sound board. I was dead center and less than 100 feet from the stage. There was only one group of people between me and fence. This was a great spot. As the sun went down and the wind picked up, I wondered if I should have worn either a fleece or pants instead of my shorts and t-shirt. But as the area filled with warm bodies it was great weather for a concert.

At 7:30 one of the local rock stations sent a rep up who introduced two people from KOVE. How is that for a bit strange. They had some give-aways, but sent a girl who threw t-shirts like a girl and frisbees like a 3 year-old. If you were more than 10 feet from the stage- forget about it!

At the same time the show started, and for about 30 minutes, there was some aircraft zooming around to the southwest. Non-blinking green lights on one side, and red on the other. I couldn’t see a spot so I don’t think it was a Border Patrol helicopter. At times it seemed to hover like one, but at other times it was moving very fast. It was interesting in distracting as I kept on eye on it and one on the concert.

They opened with a song I didn’t recognize. The most repeated phrase was “Like You Mean It”. From there they went into the aforementioned “Stars”. They seemed to hit their stride at this point.

I wasn’t sure what the next song was entitled but then they moved into a cover of Tom Petty’s “Won’t Back Down.” Then they played “Your Love is a Song” which is a great song of off Hello, Hurricane.

For there they played “Love Along is Worth the Fight” from Fading West with a bit of an intro connected with the making of the movie. Jon came down off the stage. First he was walking on the preferred seating fans and then made it to the corner near me, standing of the fence but facing away from me. Then he moved to the other corner and faced me.

From there he mentioned they were back from Australia and open to getting away from the set list. Someone had requested “We Are One Tonight”. In the middle of the song they did a verse from “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine.” Nice little mini-medley there.

They went back in time to play “Dare You to Move” which Jon claimed to have written before he dropped out of college. Then it was “Let it Out.” Jon introduced his little brother Tim on bass who got to pick the next song. I have no idea what the song was but it did have a great bass line to feature him.

From there it was “We Come Alive” (questionable title) before “Dark Horses”. Jon then got his acoustic for the familiar strains of “Meant to Live” to close the set. I looked at my phone to see the time. Only 8:40.

They came back for an encore of “Only Yours” and “Forever Now”, wrapping up at 8:55.

It was a short show, but I figured it was a $13 dollar show. They did put on a good show and sounded good. As a band they don’t focus on elongated solos. The drum “solo” at the end of a song was maybe 30 seconds. That just doesn’t seem to be there thing, which is too bad. Jon’s voice isn’t the strongest so it got lost in the mix occasionally.

I was disappointed by what they didn’t play. I wanted to hear “The Sound (John Perkin’s Blues)”, “Mess of Me” and nearly anything from Nothing is Sound.” But such things are to be expected when you have that many albums. It was still a good and enjoyable show.

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I read Reconciliation Blues to better understand the tension between the races that exists in the American Church. I had the blues. After reading this book, I feel even more blue.

I’ve been wanting to read this book since it first came out in 2006. Since it is 7 years old, some of the material is a bit outdated. But many of the issues still ring true- progress is so slow as Edward Gilbreath notes late in the book.

As one chapter notes, the barriers still exist on “Christian radio”. He brings up an interview with Nicole Mullen, whose award winning music was not played much on “Christian radio.” Neither was GRITS, whose member Teron Carter said, “They feel safer with a white face promoting that kind of music than with a black face.” Christian radio still struggles with this. You will hear Toby Mac, but not Lecrae. The names have changed, but not the circumstances.

He knows the blues of being often misunderstood, left out, dismissed and more. He knows the frustration of being the “first black.” Many of the people he interviewed or discusses were older and experienced the bitter sting of racism (hearing white students at school cheering when Martin Luther King, Jr. was murdered).  Many other stories seem more mundane, unless you are in their shoes of course.

“… it took me awhile to shake the white off I got there- the stiffness, the narrow theological perspectives.” Chris Williamson

There was a provocative chapter on Jesse Jackson. He is a polarizing figure on the national landscape. Gilbreath himself wrestles with how to understand Jackson, as do many black evangelicals.

Much of the book frustrated me, honestly. I felt misunderstood because he (and those he quoted) refer to “whiteness”. It is a subject I struggle with. If whites voted as a block like blacks, I could see this “white mentality”. Even among evangelicals, there is a fair amount of disagreement on issues theological, social and cultural. I more understand what it means to be white by what it means to not be black. And that isn’t very helpful.

“I grew up around whites. I know how they think …” Chanel Graham

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Much of Generous Justice to this point has been theological- why we should pursue justice as Christians.  Keller moves into the more practical with the 6th chapter of his book.  Taking Job 29 & Psalm 4 as a starting point- we are to give sustained, concentrated attention to the hows of justice.  We won’t accidentally become just (or mature in Christ).  Often it requires analyzing a situation and using wisdom to determine the best goals and means.

Here Keller brings us some examples.  One is of a car dealer who realized that haggling for prices tended to benefit the rich, men, and whites (who were more persistent negotiators).  The people who most needed a good deal weren’t getting it because the business practice exacerbated inequalities and cultural differences.  So he set fair prices without negotiation (I have negotiating, and always feel ripped off when done.  I am thankful for the Christian businessmen who sold me car at fair prices.)  Businesses sometimes choose the short-term over the long-term.  This car dealer was choosing the long-term.  He knew he was building a loyal base of customers who appreciated his more equitable system.  But he also disadvantaged himself, reducing his profit per car.  Justice cost him.

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Whenever you read an insanely popular book, there are some traps and snares along the way.  The first of which is the insane popularity of the book.  That can create enormous expectations of the book.  As a result, your expectations are unrealistic.  The other side of that coin is really annoying those who love the book.  It could be as simple as not buying into the hype, or as serious as recognizing huge theological problems (like in Velvet Elvis or The Shack).  Either way, those who have been (rightly or wrongly) impacted by the book will be mad at you.

Crazy Love: Overwhelmed by a Relentless God is one of those insanely popular books.  Francis Chan became a well-known pastor as a result of this book.  As a result, I had very high expectations for this book.  It didn’t meet those expectations (that does not mean it is a bad book).  On the positive side, it was not dripping with heresy like either Velvet Elvis or The Shack.

Books of this sort are to be both practical and theological.  John Frame rightly, I think, notes that you haven’t really understood a doctrine until you apply it (or at least begin to).  Each book has its own blend of them.  Some are heavy on the practical, and some are heavy on the theological.  Sadly, some are so far skewed as to be no good to the soul.

Chan’s book, which I suspect is adapted from a sermon series, is skewed toward the practical.  There is theology in the book, but it leans toward the practical.  This is part of its appeal to many.  But I prefer to have my heart warmed and stirred by theological truth so I am pursuing a sound lifestyle (see 1 Timothy 1).  I felt more manipulated than instructed.  I don’t mean it to sound that terrible, really.  Francis is very passionate about his topic, and says many things we American Christians need to hear.  My issue was more with the presentation, if that makes sense.

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I picked up Switchfoot’s latest disc, Hello Hurricane, with a gift card I received for my birthday.  Of the numerous discs I received with it, this is the best one in my book.  I even liked it more than U2’s No Line on the Horizon.

This may mean I’m a sucker for arena rock, but I don’t care.

In some ways this is typical Switchfoot, or perhaps I should say what I like most about Switchfoot.  They are more consistent in their portrayal of their faith than Bono is, but like Bono they avoid the “beat you over the head with Jesus” trap (contrast that with worship music which should be all about Jesus).

This album is more aggressive musically than No Line on the Horizon.  I want driving guitars and pounding bass to accompany songs about the state of the world and my heart.  Switchfoot has more of that going for it (“Mess of Me”, “The Sound” etc.).  They are younger, and have not yet mellowed out.  U2 appeals more to people my age, and has mellowed some in recent years.

Don't let the vest fool you.

Another big difference between them is the focus on the problems we experience.  Switchfoot is far more willing to own up to our part in the conspiracy.  Jon Foreman knows that the world won’t change unless I change (and a whole lot of others too).  So, he’s a tad more personal and existential than Bono at times.  He also screams a bit more (which CavWife doesn’t like) on songs like “Bullet”.

Hello Hurricane picks up that idea that hurricanes change life irrevocably.  In 2004 we saw our community changed by 3 hurricanes.  They also had a personal effect on us.  We weren’t quite the same.  Switchfoot’s idea is that this change is a welcome thing because I’ve made a “Mess of Me.”  This song is followed by the more thoughtful “Your Love is a Song”.  I can choose to hear the roar of the hurricane (or modern life) or the love of my Creator and Redeemer.  It is this love that enables me to stand in the storm as my life is deconstructed and reconstructed.  It is this love that fuels our love which cannot be silenced even though everything may be taken away sort of connecting Job and Colossians 2-3 (“Hello Hurricane”).

They start off with the obligatory “boy meets girl” in a messed up world song.  But “Needle and Haystack Life” is a satisfying song.  It brings back shades of The Beautiful Letdown.

There are some ambiguities, like on “Enough to Let Me Go”.  Is it a human romance, or something like the story of the Prodigal?  There are plenty of allusions to faith here: “I’m walking the line that will lead me home”,  “a seed must die before it grows”).  This song is a bit more pop-oriented, with a bit of haunting keyboards hanging in the background.

But “Free” is clearer.  He longs for redemption from the prison cell within his shell of a man.  He’s living in Romans 7, doing what he hates, hurting those he loves.  (“come set me free, down on my knees, i still believe you can save me from me”  “i had a dream my chains were broken, free…”).  This all to some great bass and guitars.

He revels in surrender and second chances in “Always”.  It has a bit more anthemic feel to it with the guitar work reminding me a bit of The Verve.  “Sing it Out” is another cry for Someone to work in him, to change him.  It is a longing for God, and is a bit haunting before it moves into more of an anthem-like song.  But the haunting elements return for a slow fade with guitar feedback and strings.

I’ve missed Switchfoot.  I’m glad they are back.  Let’s hope it is not nearly 3 years before the next release.

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The new Switchfoot album, Hello Hurricane (sorry, brings memories of 2004) will be released just before my birthday in November.  The first single is Mess of Me, a return to a more aggressive style and lyrics lamenting our sinful condition.  Have a look, and listen.

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