Fall is without a doubt my favorite time of year. With cooler air filtering in and Halloween right around the corner, what could possibly make it better? How about a sold-out Switchfoot show at the House of Blues in Orlando, Florida? Yes, that would do the trick. Lucky for us, Switchfoot was in the midst of The Beautiful Letdown 20th Anniversary Tour and tonight Central Florida had the privilege of being front and center for the celebration. Since I arrived early, I had plenty of time to check out the length of the line for those waiting for the 7:00pm entry time. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the line stretch around the venue, around the lake and all the way to the towering hot air balloon. This night was going to be special.
Starting the evening off were alt indie-pop band Arlie. Calling Nashville, Tennessee home, Arlie was formed in 2015. The brainchild of singer, songwriter, guitarist and saxophonist Nathaniel Banks, Arlie has already amassed quite a following. It’s not uncommon to see venues at less than capacity when a show begins. Typically the crowd will grow as it gets closer to the headliner. Tonight was anything but typical as the place was packed when the lights went out at 7:00pm. The band came out to a roaring chant of “Arlie,” and wasted no time in setting the tempo. Banks came out wearing a black suit, a white shirt and black tie and grabbed his red and white Fender bearing “Break The Curse” on it. The 1st song of the set was “sickk,” from last year’s album, Break The Curse. Jarren Blair was busy multi-tasking as he alternated between the keys and guitar, all while providing backing vocals. Sporting a black Stetson, Luke Saison was passionately laying down the beats and Jason Antwi provided the thunder courtesy of his Fender Mustang Bass.
Banks told the fans that the correct pronunciation of the band’s name was the same as “Charlie,” but without the “Cha” sound. During the performance of “barcelona boots” Banks traded out his guitar for a saxophone, much to the delight of the crowd. The band showed a refreshing amount of energy and devotion that garnered more cheers of “Arlie” at the conclusion of the set. Banks even took the time to hand out setlists to a few of the front row fans. The band’s latest single is “findaway” and you can check it out below.
Nathaniel Banks: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Sax
Jarren Blair: Keyboards, Backing Vocals, Guitar
Jason Antwi: Bass, Backing Vocals
Luke Saison: Drums, Backing Vocals
2.big fat mouth
After a few quick stage adjustments, it was time for Switchfoot, the night’s main event. As to why 2500 people would cram into a venue for a concert one only needs to consider what this band is all about. Switchfoot has been at it for more than 20 years and its roots are in Southern California. In its early years, Switchfoot was heavily marketed as a Christian rock band, but easily transitioned into the mainstream rock genre, largely in part to the highly successful 2003 album, The Beautiful Letdown. In addition to touring the world and accumulating numerous accolades and awards, the band has also raised more than 2 million dollars for their BRO-Am Foundation that provides grants and services to San Diego area youths that are homeless, at-risk, or otherwise in need of assistance. Switchfoot is a band that relates to their fans and in return they have earned a very devout following.
At exactly 9:00pm, the stage went dark and “The Beautiful Letdown” began to appear in white spray paint across the big screen. Highlighted by blue and green lights, the band kicked off the set with “Ammunition.” It was clear from the onset that this was going to be more of a party than a concert. Vocalist Jon Foreman told the crowd that he has played this venue more than any other on the planet. It’s always a bonus when you get to photograph an artist performing your favorite song, which doesn’t happen as often as you might think considering we normally only get the 1st 3 songs. Tonight, I lucked out as “This Is Your Life” was up next. Jon’s brother, and bassist, Tim, took center stage for the intro and midway through the song Jon decided to get a little closer to his Orlando family as he went over the railing and into the crowd. Jon sang along with the fans and even gave the mic to one lucky girl before returning to the stage.
Jon grabbed his acoustic guitar and harmonica for “More Than Fine,” and leapt from the bass drum during “Gone.” Prior to playing “The Beautiful Letdown,” Jon related how the band was on the verge of giving up their rock n’ roll dreams back in 2003, but decided to give it one last shot. They released The Beautiful Letdown, travelled in 3 cars to Orlando and played a gig at The Social. The songs took off and the rest is history.
The torches came out for “On Fire,” and before “Adding To the Noise” was played, keyboardist/guitarist Jerome Fontamilias was acknowledged and received a loud applause from those in attendance. Jon then proceeded to play the song with a $20 guitar he bought at a pawn shop. The band’s hit, “Dare You To Move” brought Jon close to the fans as he once again climbed upon the railing to sing to the crowd. Apparently, the idea of being amongst the crowd was appealing to Jon because he then grabbed his guitar and microphone stand and went deep into the pit for the performance of “Twenty-Four.” Drummer Chad Butler was outstanding throughout the night and Jon went on to say that they were glad he was here because he (Jon) was a horrible drummer, even though he’s been looking for a chance for a long time. Guitarist Boaz Roberts was also on top of his game and frequently jammed with Jon on songs like “Stars,” and “Dark Horses.”
The 1st song of the 2-song encore saw the band performing “Float” surrounded by a sea of floating bubbles. Halfway through the song, Nathaniel Banks, grasping his sax, was literally carried onstage for a rousing, sax-infused conclusion. “Where I Belong” was a perfect choice to end the night. Draped in a “Where I Belong” banner Jon took a final stroll through the crowd and climbed atop the VIP railing. After returning to the stage, a whirlwind of ticker tape flooded the venue. The guys took their final bow, and the fans began to find their way out, knowing that they had just been part of an event for the ages.
Jon Foreman: Lead Vocals, Guitar, Harmonia
Tim Foreman: Bass, Backing Vocals
Chad Butler: Drums
Jerome Fontamilias: Keyboards, Guitar, Backing Vocals
Boaz Roberts: Guitar, Backing Vocals
2.This Is Your Life
3.More Than Fine
5.The Beautiful Letdown
6.Needle and Haystack Life (chorus only w/ snippet of Hello Hurricane)
9.Adding to the Noise
10.Meant To Live
11.Beloved (1st verse)
12.Dare You to Move (w/ snippets of Needle and Haystack Life & where the Light Shines Through)
18.Where I belong
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I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.