Concert Review: Switchfoot Grows Up

Switchfoot is no longer your tweenager’s band.

The San Diego based five-some played to a packed house at the claustrophobic and suffocating Crystal Ballroom on Thursday in Portland. Previous gigs were dominated by doe-eyed 13-, 14- and 15-year olds but not anymore. Yes, the band still carries some weight with the younger crowd but Switchfoot now has a loyal following among those in their 20s, 30s and even 40s.

Many fans have indeed grown up with the band and based on Thursday’s performance Switchfoot has grown up too.

The band blazed through a 14-song set balanced with an array of lights and even a three-screen video back drop which is perhaps a decided move towards a bigger and better rock show. Switchfoot, comprised of Jon Foreman (vocals, guitar), brother Tim Foreman (bass), Jerome Fontamillas (keyboards), Chad Butler (drums) and Drew Shirley (guitar), is currently touring their 8th album Vice Verses (now a year old) which is definitely their hardest and edgiest effort to date.

The band started off loud with “The Sound” then one of their best “Stars,” “The War Inside” and finally “Mess of Me” before slowing the tempo a bit with “This is Your Life” and the reflective “Restless.”  The set featured seven songs from their latest album. “Dark Horses” will go down as one of Switchfoot’s best all-time songs and considering it’s a deep album cut it shows the strength of Vice Verses. The band played tight, sounded great and it must be said that Foreman has one of the most beautiful vocals in rock today.

The genius of Switchfoot is their ability and obvious desire to market their music to everyone. In a recent interview Jon Foreman said, “I want to sing to people that have faith the way I believe but I also want to sing to people that believe other things. Music is a conversation.” Originally marketed as a Christian band, Switchfoot definitely retains a strong Christian following, but the band is not a “Christian” rock outfit rather a rock band whose members are Christian. Switchfoot also doesn’t have that sound and tone so apparent with today’s faith-based records. It’s not until the listener dives below the surface of the lyrics that you find Switchfoot has a lot to say and it’s said well.

Remaining relevant in the current music scene is difficult enough and as Switchfoot gets older so will their fan base. Thus far they’ve accomplished what few bands can boast which is a broad range in age of their fans. But in today’s canned music world many of those rabid teen fans from five, even 10 years ago, have left what was cool back then – Switchfoot – and already moved on to whatever society has placed on the shelf and told them to buy.

The rest have remained true to the music, just as Switchfoot has.

Perhaps that explains why after so many solid albums Switchfoot has yet to take it to the next level. The Crystal is one of the worst venues in Portland (avoid the balcony at all costs!) yet they’ve played there for years and seem to have the muscle to break the ceiling and sell well at larger capacity theaters. For sure they are one of the few bands who genuinely seem to care about their fans and keeping concerts at smaller venues is a nice gesture but they have the talent and ability to step it up a notch.

Here’s hoping that Thursday’s show is reflective of the band’s desire to push themselves not only musically but also the stage show. Just as Switchfoot originally gained a following through their music back in the 90s, if the current live show is any indicator the crowds will hopefully keep coming for years to come.

Switchfoot Portland Setlist (Crystal Ballroom):

  1. The Sound
  2. Stars
  3. The War Inside
  4. Mess of Me
  5. This is Your Life
  6. Restless
  7. Rise Above It
  8. Meant to Live
  9. The Original
  10. Dare You to Move
  11. Hello Hurricane
  12. Dark Horses
  13. Souvenirs
  14. Where I Belong

Written By: AndrewT

Everclear Brings Life to Oregon Music Hall of Fame Ceremony

The 6th annual Oregon Music Hall of Fameinduction ceremony was held at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Aladdin Theater in Portland in front of a sold-out crowd honoring the best and brightest the state has contributed to the music industry.

Perennial favorites Everclear headlined the show with a five-song set and the crowd pleasing U-Krew, an old-school hip-hop group that reformed for the first time in 20 years also performed a few hits from their only album released in 1989. The Hudson Brothers and KGON DJ Iris Harrison were also among the inductees.

Tony Starlight hosted the show and started the evening with a hilarious farce of REO Speedwagon’s “Can’t Fight This Feeling Anymore” by lamenting about getting older, but the rest of the night slowed to a crawl. Ten inductions were made which, of course, included at-times long-winded introduction speeches. Starlight said he’d keep speeches to two minutes and would tap dance behind speakers to alert them of the time. Like his shtick, he was not serious.

The evening clearly belonged to industry insiders as even big music fans may never have heard of most of the inductees. Only in its 6th year the OMHOF induction ceremony came across more like a small-town production instead of a big scale State of Oregon Hall of Fame celebration. However, none of that takes away from the OMHOF’s primary purpose which is to benefit music education for public schools. Since 2007, more than $40,000 has been raised for music education and that amount rose dramatically last night thanks to a live auction featuring 15 guitars signed by various artists including ZZ Top and Melissa Etheridge.

Most in attendance were there to see Everclear but had to wait three and half hours before one of Portland’s biggest contributions to the modern rock era of the 1990s emerged. The band’s line-up has changed over the years but front man and founder Art Alexakis continues with his brand of rock and was on tour this summer and released the strong new studio album “Invisible Stars” earlier this year.

Alexakis who no longer lives in Oregon said Everclear will always be a Portland band.  He was joined on stage by previous members of the band before plugging in the amps and blistering through “I will Buy You a New life,” “Father of Mine,” “Heroin Girl,” “Wonderful,” and “Santa Monica.” Everclear made an encore of sorts and returned to the stage along with other Hall of Fame inductees who all played “Louie Louie.”

OMHOF also announced their Artist of the Year for 2011 – The Decemberists – who also took home 2011 Album of the Year honors with “The King is Dead.” To be inducted into the OMHOF, nominees must have been born in Oregon, or lived or operated in Oregon sometime in their lifetime and generally been in the music industry for a minimum of 20 years.

Oregon Music Hall of Fame 2012 Inductees:

The Hudson Brothers
Patrick Lamb
Chris Miller
Calvin Walker
Danny Schauffler
Tom Robinson and Mark Sten
Iris Harrison

Written By: AndrewT