There were several occasions during Switchfoot’s blockbuster show Friday night at Los Angeles’ Wiltern Theatre where frontman Jon Foreman walked out into the audience, stood atop a barricade and soaked in the adulation of the sold-out crowd.
It wasn’t as if Foreman was strutting like a peacock, however. The singer’s jaunt into the masses was more of a celebration of the moment, an acknowledgement of the strong connection between the San Diego rockers and their fervent supporters.
Switchfoot has been touring in support of their immersive surf/music documentary Fading West that chronicled the band as they toured to places like Australia, Bali, New Zealand and South Africa on their 2011 album Vice Verses. The film also touches on the band’s lives off the stage, and their annual Bro-am event in their hometown that raises funds for homeless youth.
Luckily, the soundtrack also yielded 11 new songs that are as bombastic as anything from Switchfoot’s extensive catalog.
The quintet aptly opened with one of those Fading West tracks, with lead guitarist Drew Shirley’s distorted guitar announcing his arrival on “Say It Like You Mean It.” Foreman’s vocals almost sounded like they were being broadcast through a bullhorn as those watching shouted back each word.
Switchfoot then delved back into their extended catalog with a triumphant version of “Stars,” which comes off 2005’s Nothing is Sound. As with the first entry on their setlist, the refrain was arena-ready, and the crowd responded in kind. Clearly, Switchfoot’s length Fading West tour had them hitting on all cylinders by the time they rambled through L.A.
About five songs in, Foreman grabbed an acoustic guitar for “Saltwater Heart,”, singing “saltwater flowing through my veins” as images of surfers and waves played behind the band quite appropriately.
Things got a little ominous after that, with the lights going out as Shirley unleashed a few stormy strums of his guitar. Foreman called “Your Love is a Song” a tribute to mystery and grace, and it definitely was in its beauty and swaying beat.
A Switchfoot show wouldn’t be complete without their homage to the homeless of San Diego with the shout-it-out-loud anthem “Dark Horses.” At that point, the young-skewing fans in the pit all held up their smart phones as green lasers shot out from the rear of the stage.
The soaring chorus of “When We Come Alive” – another Fading West gem – came next, and it also marked the first time Foreman ventured into the sea of admirers.
Foreman also noted how much fun the band was having playing their new stuff. Foreman’s exuberance marked the perfect segue into Fading West’s opening single “Love Alone is Worth the Fight.”
Switchfoot chose well with their final notes, as well, pulling out “BA55” from Fading West and an especially dirty edition of “The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)” off 2009’s Hello Hurricane.
As Foreman yelled “This is the sound of the disenchanted,” Shirley unleashed the fury on his axe, bringing the energy to an all-night high.
At the end of the show, Switchfoot had all observers riding the highs and lows of each sonic wave they threw out. With arms held high, these five surfer dudes left with their Los Angeles family swelling as big as it’s ever been.