Photography & Words By: Adam R. Harrison
Wednesday, February 8, 2017 was a bitter cold night in Toronto. However the warmth inside The Phoenix Concert Theatre was exceptional as an affectionate sold out crowd filled the venue and played host to Switchfoot, who are currently touring for their (get ready to feel old) tenth studio album, Where The Light Shines Through. It may have been a while since the Californian alternative rockers have enjoyed mainstream success, but they’ve continued to be top dogs on the Christian rock scene and it was apparent in Toronto that they are still very much a compelling band with a must see performance.
Opening the evening were Christian pop punk patriarchs Relient K. Who are well known and admired for their baby faces, feel-good attitudes and silly song titles… almost like the Blink-182 of the Christian rock scene. They set the tone of their fun-spirited but impressive 75-minute opening set by entering to John Cena’s theme music before strumming the opening riff of “High of 75.” The original duo of Matt Thiessen and Matt Hoopes were nothing but smiles as they took us through some of their classics such as “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been” and “Sadie Hawkins Dance” before concluding with the 11-minute marathon song “Deathbed.”
Switchfoot opened their 90-minute headline set traditionally, with the opening track from the new record, “Holy Water” and you could feel the excitement of the crowd from the get go. However it was nothing compared to what followed as the band jumped into the duelling guitar riff of Switchfoot’s mega hit “Meant To Live,” from the 2003 acclaimed album, The Beautiful Letdown, as just the second song on the set list. Already feet were in the air and bodies were surfing, but the energy didn’t stop there as this was also followed by “Stars” the lead single from the 2005 follow up album, Nothing Is Sound.
What really made this concert special was the personality of the audience. Who were humble and welcoming not only to the band, but to one another. It was exceptional to be apart of, especially these days amongst so much political division. Front man, singer & guitarist Jon Foreman gratefully thanked and acknowledged the love they were feeling from Toronto that night. As the tempo of the set slowed down, Foreman even had everyone put their arms around the person next them and sway together as one unit during “I Won’t Let You Go.”
Probably one of the most interesting moments of the evening came while Foreman was addressing the audience. One particularly articulate fan named Jared belted out his request for the song “Dare You to Move.” Foreman, who was intrigued by the mysterious young man, had a small conversation with the fan, despite not being able to see him. Jared also voiced a few requests like having his arm signed and being allowed to come on stage.
After the encore break, an energetic Foreman made his way into the crowd (along with a barrage of bubbles) for the song “Float.” He extended his stay to be with his supporters while he sang “Live It Well,” a song he described as being a prayer. When Foreman eventually returned to the stage, he was joined by none other than Jared, who embraced him in brotherly love. Jared got his moment on stage while the band played his requested “Dare You To Move” to conclude an evening of inspiring music, performance and togetherness. Christian or not, this ladies and gentlemen, is what rock and roll and concert going should be all about.