The energy was high all night – from opening band Luna Halo joking with the crowd when introducing themselves as Switchfoot to Switchfoot’s encore performance, hardly a seat in the house was inhabited, as many were dancing and jumping along in the aisles.
I’ve seen Switchfoot several times over the past few years and every time they’re better than the last. The music, the atmosphere, the unexpected. Frontman Jon Foreman always is a crowd pleaser and the band never disappoints.
The opening chords of “Meant to Live” began shortly after 9 p.m. at the Rutgers Athletic Center, drawing screams from the crowd as the band quickly segued into their first song of the night, “Oh! Gravity,” of their latest album of the same name. The energy was intense and stayed like that until the end of their nearly 90-minute set.
Switchfoot performed 14 songs throughout the night, many of their old, classic, fan-favorites such as Jon's solo acoustic encore performances of “Only Hope” and “Dare You To Move” as well as a new song, “This Is Home,” which will be featured in the upcoming movie The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian. When Jon announced the new song screams were heard throughout the RAC, as to which point he joked, “You haven’t even heard it yet, you can’t scream!” The song started out with a solid keyboard feature from Jerome Fontamillas before Jon began singing. Despite having only begun playing the song recently on tour, many fans already knew all the words and could be heard singing along while swaying their cell phones in the air, slowing the night down for a while.
Highlights of the night included edgy guitar-based song, “Dirty Second Hands” and slower number, “On Fire.” Towards the end of “Dirty Second Hands” Jon stole the cymbal from drummer Chad Butler and ferociously hit it with a drumstick, spinning in circles for the remainder of the song. Jon then started off “On Fire” on harmonica before walking into the crowd, climbing up the bleachers, all while singing and taking pictures with fans before finishing the song.
It’s hard to tell the crowd favorite, as everyone surrounding me was singing along to each song word for word. The audience was diverse, made up of college students as well as parents with young children and other New Jersey natives. While some songs featured in their set didn't stray too much from their album, others brought new life on stage, such as “Gone” which was prefaced with a cover of Beyoncé's “Crazy In Love” to which Jon told the crowd, “I can safely say this is the only Beyoncé cover we’re going to do all night.” After a few bars of the song, Switchfoot went into “Gone,” where Jon’s singing took a pause to an almost rap-like number as he spoke the words to most of the song, jumping on and off the drum kit a few times.
After jumping into the crowd to grab a sign from a fan, titled "We Are One Tonight" Jon placed it next to a nearby speaker before playing the song, joking, "This is incase I forget the lyrics." Soon after, a fan ran up and tossed him a mug, which right after catching he put some water into and then drank from. Jon later told the crowd, "The reason we decided to be an independent band is because of all you guys singing along."
The Switchfoot fan base is an extremely dedicated group and after every show the band takes time out to sign autographs and talk with fans. After Saturday's show the guys could be found hanging out next to the stage with fans while Jon played a 15 minute set of songs from his recently released EP's as well as some older Switchfoot songs such as "Amy's Song."
Luna Halo opened the night and was, by far, the best supporting band I’ve ever come across in concert. Based in Nashville, the band has a strong rock sound and frontman Nathan Barlowe has a stage presence like none other I’ve seen. Playing nearly a 40-minute set, Luna Halo's performance had everyone standing up and clapping along, not always an easy feat for an opening band. His facial expressions and stage antics while playing guitar was entertaining in itself, at one point he was rolling around onstage while playing guitar. The music was solid with strong, but not overpowering, guitar and drum accompaniment, never concealing Barlowe’s vocals.
Despite the audience not being too familiar with some of their songs, Luna Halo had the audience singing along to their cover of A-Ha’s “Take On Me” while lead singer Nathan joked with the crowd dancing along to their performance, saying, “I feel like Bon Jovi tonight. It’s great!”
Be sure to check Wendy Hu's Flickr page for more photos of the show. For more information on Switchfoot check out their website and to listen to Luna Halo check out their MySpace.