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Switchfoot Live in Singapore ’11

In all honesty, I was a little more than worried and sceptical; especially having learnt that the concert was being held at a venue more commonly used as a church’s Sunday service. However, my doubts went unfounded. If there was a band that could transform churches into über kicka55 rock concerts… it might as well be Switchfoot.

Last week’s concert at the Rock Auditorium was not the first time the Californian surf rockers created waves in Singapore. Switchfoot has previously performed at Singapore Expo’s Max Pavilion back in 2008.

The night opened rather abruptly as The Calling of Levi stumbled onto the stage. From the band’s demeanor, I indubitably thought things would not turn out too pretty; but pretty they certainly were.

The young band hailing from Perth quickly took things into a roaring start. Though admittedly a less popular band with the crowd, they exercized commendable crowd participation and amazingly managed to get the crowd onto their prancing feets; with even a good majority of them rushing to the front.

But things quickly took a turn for the worse: security started pushing crowds back and ordered the crowd to remain seated. Say whaaaaat?

The set however, still managed to maintain its high-octane levels. Major kudos goes to their lead guitarist, Kieren, as it leaves one wondering his circus-like ability to pull off those guitar licks whilst running and jumping around the stage. Personally, I felt that their music sounded like pretty generic “American indie” music a la Ivoryline, My American Heart and the like; however, they were excellent performers and no one could possibly say otherwise.

Pain is written all over his face. Ouch.

Arguably one of Singapore’s most popular and successful indie rock export, the second openers of the night were a little more familiar with the local audience: The Great Spy Experiment.

Being a fan myself, it was a truly heartbreaking sight to witness. The Spies put up an extremely lacklustre performance. They pushed forth an orgy of songs as they rushed from one to another, barely speaking between numbers. Needless to say, the crowd remained largely unresponsive; with a couple in front of me even taking out their iPhone for some Angry Birds action. Sigh.

Saiful Idris of The Great Spy Experiment

And now, Switchfoot. Fun fact: did you know their name originated from a surfing maneuvre? Now that I have successfully built suspense for about 1.72 seconds, let me sum up their performance with just this: it was fantastic. I have been to my fair share of concerts, and Switchfoot simply kicked a55.

The headliners wasted no time and dived into the distorted bass intro of ‘The Sound (John M. Perkins’ Blues)’. The intro’s chorus immediately got the hall into a crazed frenzy. Switchfoot pressed on the momentum and relentlessly continued with ‘Stars’. 2 songs in, and I was sold already.

What I really liked was that Switchfoot managed to bust out a more than decent setlist. There was a healthy balance between their newer and older material. Fans were treated to staples such as ‘Only Hope’, ‘We Are One Tonight’ and ‘Dare You To Move’.

What I also liked was their incredible stage presence and crowd engagement. There were several occasions where Jon would lovingly point his microphone to the crowd, letting them do the work for him. He ran out to the crowd twice, with the second time almost lasting an entire song. A lucky fan even got to scream into Jon’s mic for a good portion of ‘This Is Your Life’.

Time to grow a beard, people.

However, I felt that they could have included lesser known songs from their younger days; such as ‘Chem 6A’ and ‘Innocent Again’ as a nod to their older, diehard groupies such as myself; but that’s just me being sour and nitpicky.

Another point to note was their venue of choice. The small, seated auditorium simply could not bring out the best of Switchfoot. It felt a little too confined and restricted; leaving the afterthought of knowing that it could have been better. The tight security made the experience worse. The sound mix was satisfactory at best; as it was similarly lacking that certain punch.

All in all, I felt that Switchfoot put out a brilliant performance. From Jon whippin’ out his harmonica back and forth for “Your Love Is A Song”, to the massive karaoke session of “Only Hope” and “Dare You To Move”; the concert was, safe to say, a flippin’ success.

– Toke

Images of The Calling of Levi and The  Great Spy Experiment courtesy of Monsoon Productions, Switchfoot by Zhiwei

Visit The Calling of Levi’s page @ http://www.myspace.com/tcolband

Visit The Great Spy Experiment’s page @ http://www.myspace.com/thegreatspyexperiment

Visit Switchfoot’s website @ http://www.switchfoot.com/

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