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Concert Reviews: Switchfoot

Switchfoot: Concert Review
Club Laga in Pittsburgh, PA
October 13, 2003
By: Linda Spielman

Many bands have obstacles to overcome when they are new on the scene. There are critics to impress, label execs to please, fans to win over and radio honchos to make a good impression on in order to get your music to the masses. With all the music with unhappy and/or graphic lyrics besieging today's airwaves, it can be even harder for a band with a positive message to be taken seriously. Add into the mix that the alternative band you're listening to and liking is a Christian rock band and the stigma that sometimes exists in the secular music seems inevitable.

The band Switchfoot came together in the late 1990s in Southern California. Brothers Jonathan and Tim Foreman, along with Chad Butler grew up together. Although their first meeting was in church, the guys developed a deeper friendship through their mutual love of surfing and a love for music and thus, the band was formed.

After gaining the attention of Charlie Peacock, who in the Christian music community is a well respected singer/songwriter and producer, the band was well on it's way to making a name for themselves in both the Christian music community, as well as breaking into secular radio rotation. With two albums under their belt, an award from ASCAP San Diego for Best New Artist and a Grammy nod in 2001, the guys in Switchfoot were carving out a name for themselves on all fronts in the music world.

In support of their current album The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot has been out on the road headlining club dates nationwide. The response to their music from an audience perspective has been phenomenal. Although the band may not be receiving massive rotation yet with their current single Meant To Live, it is obvious from the turnout at Club Laga in Pittsburgh on October 13, 2003 that the fans aren't too focused on the "Christian rock group" classification, but more-so on what the band brings to the table both lyrically and in their live performance. Just because a band may have a Christian base does not mean they rock any less. With the advantage of headlining small clubs such as Laga, Switchfoot is able to incorporate nearly their entire album into their set. That alone shows the versatility of the band. Yes, their lyrics are empowering and uplifting. Yes, there is ever-present melodic undertone to every song. Yes, their songs are sentimental to some. However, ever since the September 11th tragedies haven't we all searched for some song or form of music that makes us feel better and encourages us that there are better days to come? At its best, music can help you overcome your anger, inspire you, comfort you and sometimes, even be the crutch you need to lean on. Wherever you pull that from can be a source of strength and solace and with a band like Switchfoot, just seeing them live and hearing them is, in itself, comforting.

There are some who are closed minded about music and may judge when a term such as "Christian rock" is throw into conversation. In reality, labels are limiting if they prevent us from experiencing music as a whole. If you blend rock alternative with Christian rock, it's still rock. It doesn't come off as preachy, but as enlightening. That is how I felt after coming out of seeing this band. Music is music--- there are some great popular artists out there that write with just as much conviction as these guys, with just as much emotion and inspiration. If the band P.O.D. can make the crossover into mainstream radio and have such success, then there is obviously a need, want and desire for more. Hopefully, Switchfoot will take this to the next level with the continuation of great writing, amazing live performances and the standard to rock no matter what.