Story and Photo by Scott Smith
The Grammy Award-winning Switchfoot delivered a sweaty, hit-filled set list on April 25 in Fayetteville, Arkansas, throwing their backs into their instruments and vocals for a grinning, all-ages crowd.
Lead singer Jon Foreman sang with solid conviction throughout the 95-minute performance at George’s Majestic Lounge. The shaggy blond front-man provided near-angst vocals for the guitar-baked “Meant to Live,” and he shifted some of the dynamics by making the front end of the still-brilliant “Dare You to Move” mellower than its studio incarnation.
For part of the raw, well-paced gig, Foreman incorporated the small club’s surroundings, walking over tables while singing. Clutching one of the room’s wooden rafters, Foreman joked, “And now I’d like to introduce you to the sixth member of Switchfoot — this wooden beam.”
Lead guitarist Drew Shirley thrashed about on his Les Paul during fast-paced numbers “Stars,” “Oh! Gravity” and “Mess of Me,” and Foreman’s brother, bassist Tim Foreman, kept the low-end notes adventurous and tasteful. Even when Tim Foreman’s left hand glided up his bass’ neck, the bass lines remained inspired without too much hot-dogging in the spinning spotlights.
Drummer Chad Butler sat perched in the stage-right corner, pounding out the assertive rhythms across his drum heads, cymbals and an open high-hat. Jon Foreman even jumped onto Butler’s bass drum and balanced for several seconds, while Butler playfully grimaced.
Jerome Fontamillis added perfect touches of keyboards, organ, rhythm guitar and a few samples to round out Switchfoot’s garage-esque sound, and the audience swallowed every verse and chorus with roaring cheers. Some fans even stood with their arms outstretched and eyes closed, showing their support for Switchfoot’s Christian-rock nature.
Even the club’s inside temperature — the front-row fans were soaked in sweat by the time the final chords of show-opener “Afterlife” rang — didn’t dampen the spirit of Switchfoot or their fans. In fact, the thick, balmy air inspired the group to pull out the excellent “Learning to Breathe” for the first time on the new tour, and everyone in attendance embraced that set-list surprise.