Switchfoot’s performance at Stage AE on Oct. 12 started early. It started during Relient K’s opening set when Jon Foreman, Switchfoot’s lead singer, ran on stage for the end of the last song, “Deathbed.” At this, a look of surprise came over the face of Matt Thiessen, Relient K’s frontman.
If you snapped a photo of Foreman and Thiessen singing together on that one mic, both with big smiles, that would be a frame that could represent the rest of the show.
Switchfoot’s message is unity. Many times during the show, Foreman stepped across the space between the stage and the front-row barrier to touch people’s hands. During their fourth song, “Gone,” he encouraged audience members to lock arms with the person next to them and sway with the music.
Snap. Another frame showing the love-thy-neighbor atmosphere the band brings.
A little later, all five band members huddled around Foreman’s mic, Chad Butler (drums) on the snare, Tim Foreman (bass) singing, Drew Shirley (guitar) on acoustic guitar and Jerome Fontamillas (keyboard) on accordion. The five of them had their arms around each other, singing, “Hello hurricane, you’re not enough. Hello hurricane, you can’t silence my love,” in honor of Haiti, which Hurricane Matthew recently devastated.
Snap. A frame showing how they’ve become a band of brothers, standing up for the broken.
Soon, the lights went off and Foreman was walking around stage with a flashlight, singing, “I’m looking for America. America, where are you?” This led into, “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues).” With a guitar riff that could be mistaken for one of AC/DC’s, the lyrics go, “This is the sound of a heartbeat. This is the sound from the discontented mouths of a haunted nation.” All the while, footage from the Civil Rights Movement played on the screens behind the band.
Snap. A frame yearning for redemption.
Multiple times throughout the night, Foreman stepped down into the crowd, high-fiving as he pushed through the sea of people, singing with those around him. While crowd surfing during the song “Love Alone Is Worth The Fight,” Foreman garnered a chuckle from people during a break in singing.
“Sometimes I wonder how I get to these places,” he said as people’s hands held him above heads.
Snap. A frame showing trust in your fans to carry you through the air.
Soon after, Relient K decided to repay the favor and crash Switchfoot’s set. Foreman welcomed Thiessen and Matt Douglas (Relient K’s drummer) to the stage to sing the end of “Live It Well.”
“Life is short, I wanna live it well,” they all sang. “And you’re the one I’m living for.”
Snap. Another frame that shows people bonding over music.
As the night wound down, confetti shot out of cannons from either side of the stage, cities of bubbles floated around the packed room, and Foreman kneeled in front of a half disco ball during “Float.”
And then, right before playing the very last song of the evening, “Dare You To Move,” Foreman put into words the atmosphere of the room.
“This is one of those nights,” he said. “You just kind of don’t want it to end.”
Originally published in Pittsburgh City Paper on October 13