Switchfoot could be rock 'n' roll savior
By BOB COSTA Pennsbury East
Bucks County Courier Times

When it comes to putting on a live show, Switchfoot has gotten it right. Mixing an eclectic setlist with diverse musical arrangements at its Electric Factory gig last Saturday not only proved to be beneficial to the packed (I could not move, and I was toward the back of the floor) crowd, but helpful in letting each song leave a lasting impression.

Opening with its new hit single “Dare You To Move,” the San Diego-based rock band had the crowd singing from the start.

When I spoke with drummer Chad Butler before the show, he said he was pumped about using “Dare You To Move” as the opener, especially after it has been recently become a stalwart at modernrock radio.

“It’s a song that has inspired us as a band, and it’s a challenge to us. Growing up, we were inspired by great songwriters, like Bob Dylan and James Taylor, and we really tried to write something that stood up with this song,” Butler said.

Butler added that he was amazed by how much the audience has supported the band’s most recent album, “The Beautiful Letdown,” which was showcased throughout the night.

“We made a dark album, with songs about beauty and pain. But, our live show is all about giving you a sweaty rock show, so it feels like a small club wherever we play,” Butler said.

Switchfoot was smooth and musically perfect for its entire set, breezing easily between the setup, chord and acoustic changes that come from playing songs from an entire catalog spanning 10 years of musical development.

The old-school Switchfoot fans got a welcome rare live song in “Chem 6a,” off the band’s album “Legend of Chin.” In the song, lead singer Jon Foreman sings “I don’t know what love is/I don’t know who I am/And if I ever want to find out/I’ll watch the movie/Cause it’s not me/I’m just like everybody else my age.” If there was ever a song that epitomized what every youth grouper in attendance was feeling, this was it.

Many Bucks County teens were at the Electric Factory show. Although the band has become popular (going platinum) and getting a smash with its first single “Meant to Live,” there was still a feeling of precocious secrecy throughout the venue. Everyone just felt like they were in on something great that was about to get big.

Mid-set, the band played a lush rendition of “Only Hope,” its song that was covered (and made famous) by Mandy Moore in the movie “Walk to Remember.”

When Foreman came on with just an acoustic guitar to play “24,” a beautiful track off the new album, the band members left the stage. It was an elevating showcase for the energetic front man to show off his skills over the frets.

Butler, the ever-cool drummer, was powerful while closing out the set with “Meant to Live,” pounding the snare like Max Weinberg would for Foreman’s Springsteen. Foreman even climbed the bass drum and sang from on top, the king of the factory and the audience his court.

During the encore, after the extremely loud screams of fans brought the soft-spoken rockers back on for one more tune, Switchfoot played a slightly altered version of its fan-favorite “Gone.” With the last refrain, they were, literally.

It is doubtful that the next time Switchfoot comes to Philly that they’ll play the Electric Factory. The place was almost unsuitable in terms of size and fan containment. People were literally going berserk (in a good way) for this band. It felt like Dashboard Confessional meets the Rolling Stones.

That is a good thing for Switchfoot, and good for rock in general. You know how many critics thought The Vines or Hives would save rock? Well, last Saturday, I think I found the true savior for our beloved, and oft-derided, genre.