Let me begin by saying that I am a Switchfoot diehard, however, I will strive to be, and remain, unbiased in this review. With that said, I found every second of the Native Tongue tour exhilarating. My wife and I opted to experience this particular show with VIP status. We knew, somewhat, what we were walking into. I had slowly introduced my wife to the tunes of Colony House, for familiarity purposes. Neither of us had given much thought to Tyson Motsenbocker. This would prove to be a fault of ours, but I'll get to that.
The VIP experience is well worth the additional charges. Erik Frost, the tour photographer that follows Switchfoot around, served as the "hype-man" of the afternoon, as he signed us in, gave us our memorabilia, and allowed us into the soundcheck. Upon entering the Houston, Texas House of Blues, Jon Foreman and the boys of Switchfoot greeted us warmly and opened the floor for a few suggestions to make sure their instruments and mics were set properly. This was the best part of the VIP experience, as we were treated to rarely-played live renditions of "Lonely Nation," "Souvenirs," and "Afterlife." (If you've been a part of the VIP portion of a Switchfoot concert, you'll know what follows: the photo. It's always a great moment!)
Not more than two hours later, we were introduced to the opening act: Tyson Motsenbocker. To be quite honest, I had never heard more than two songs by this guy, and it's a pity. He was joined by nobody on the stage, in an intimate acoustic set. His set was only 4 songs long, so as to make more time for the next acts. I will say, I thoroughly enjoyed him. "Talk All Night for Nothing" was my favorite of the set. If you're looking for a good helping of conviction, "Sunday Morning" will serve it up for sure. Overall, Tyson gained a new fan in myself, as his set was warm, inviting, and had moments of lyrical depth sprinkled throughout. As the evening progressed, Tyson would also serve as the spokesman for Food For The Hungry. What a fantastic organization, raising awareness for a worthwhile cause!
After a brief removal of Tyson's small setup, different aspects of the stage which had been previously covered up were uncovered, revealing the stage set of Colony House. Often referred to as "Switchfoot 2.0," it's not hard to see why they've received that nickname. Caleb Chapman and the guys opened with the retro-sounding "You & I," following with the constant groove of "Silhouettes." This song hits me square in the chest every time. Every now and then, we lose sight of the Light due to constant dismay and shadow, only to realize a little way's down the road that the silhouette cast by the dismay is proof of that Light. A few songs into their set, they slowed things down a bit with tracks such as "Learning How to Love" and "Caught Me by Surprise," only to pick things up with a personal favorite, "Lonely." Caleb, the lead vocalist and frontman, had a second microphone with a filter set up for the verses, and it paid off in a big way. While the original studio version is a swelling rock song with a catchy guitar solo near the end, this filtered mic added a little extra "oomph" that was very welcome after the few slower tracks. To close out their remarkable set, Chapman & Co. covered The Surfaris' "Wipeout" as a lead into their song I've watched them play on multiple morning talk shows, "You Know It." Colony House is fantastic - even more so in a live show setting. Caleb sounds a bit like his CCM legend father, Stephen Curtis Chapman, but with a dose of grit. Will Chapman, though relatively young, may be one of the best drummers in the rock n' roll business today. Their energy is incredible, and they know how to keep your attention. Upon the end of Colony House's set, Motsenbocker made his way back out once more to give everyone a little more information about Food for the Hungry. To wrap it up, he introduced Switchfoot to thunderous cheers.
After a lengthier stage setup change than Colony House had, the big screen turned on to show a montage of early videos of the Foreman brothers and the rest of the band surfing, playing gigs, and goofing off like only brothers know to do, all while the familiar keys of the into to "Let It Happen" began to play. What an opener. The emotion in the lyrics was palpable. No sooner had that first song ended, the iconic guitar sounds of "Meant to Live" were attacking our eardrums. The boys of Switchfoot played this tour a bit different than previous ones. Attendees all over the venue were holding up signs with the names of their favorite song, and Jon Foreman would construct the set on the spot from those signs. While no deep cuts made it into the set, this was a creative way to play a show. Favorites like "Stars" (which included Drew Shirley blasting a few lines of "Deep in the Heart of Texas" near the end of the song), "Love Alone is Worth the Fight," and "Gone" were selected.
Now, I've seen Switchfoot live twelve times, and this show had some of the most memorable moments I've witnessed. For instance, a young man had printed out a Tweet onto a massive sign, stating that he had traveled to Houston from El Salvador for the concert, and wanted to hear "Strength to Let Go" of off their latest album, Native Tongue. Not only did Jon invite the man, Mario, onto the stage with the sign, he also allowed Mario to sing with him.
From there, the band moved into a quick break, led by Jon, recalling that Jerome had recently been diagnosed with cancer, and had then been in remission. It was a beautiful moment as Jerome was able to take the lead for a bit during "Live It Well." The song seems to have taken on a new meaning for the band, not to mention Jerome.
In the past, the band would all gather with Jon at the front of the stage for an acoustic rendition of "Hello Hurricane," a song that holds special meaning for the people of Houston due to Hurricane Harvey. This time, the acoustic portion of the set was a medley comprised of "Hello Hurricane," "The Shadow Proves the Sunshine," and new track "All I Need." This had a campfire feel to it, and we couldn't get enough. Another highlight was the new Beatles-esque track, "Dig New Streams," which saw Tim Foreman take the lead on vocals for the first verse and chorus.
"Dare You to Move" was song number 19 of the night, and as the band left the stage, a handful of people left the venue, only to miss the typical cries for an encore. After a few moments, the boys reemerged to play the title track of the new album and tour, "Native Tongue," where Tyson and the guys of Colony House joined for a vocal cameo, followed by "Hope is the Anthem." To close out the night, the anthemic "Where I Belong" was sung by nearly everyone in the venue.
While it was an amazing show, filled with incredible moments by all three acts, I have to say that Colony House was the most energetic. Jon Foreman seemed a tad tired, as he should after wailing and "Yeah"-ing dozens of nights in a row. Here's to hoping Tyson gains the recognition he deserves, Colony House scores a headlining tour, and Switchfoot can get some rest before opening for Bon Jovi this summer. Nobody does it quite like Switchfoot, but Colony House nearly matches them. What a night!
-- David Hankins, 5/26/19, for Jesusfreakhideout.com
01. Couer d'Alene
02. Talk All Night for Nothing
03. Sunday Morning
01. You & I
03. Was It Me
04. Learning How to Love
07. Caught Me by Surprise
08. This Beautiful Life
09. Moving Forward
10. Waiting for My Time to Come
11. Wipe Out
12. You Know It
01. Let It Happen
02. Meant to Live
04. Oh! Gravity
05. The Strength to Let Go
06. Live It Well
07. I Won't Let You Go
08. Take My Fire
09. Love Alone is Worth the Fightv 10. Hello Hurricane
11. The Shadow Proves the Sunshine
12. All I Need
13. Dig New Streams
15. If the House Burns Down Tonight
18. Prodigal Soul
19. Dare You to Move
20. Native Tongue
21. Hope is the Anthem
22. Where I Belong
*all photos by David Hankins and are the property of the photographer and approved for use by Jesusfreakhideout.com
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