DSCF0551 B_OL90Switchfoot is a band at the top of their game, and seem to be in a very good place musically, and in general. They've fine-tuned their sound, crafted a good stage show, and are achieving good things in and out of the studio.

The dazzling lights and electronic frenzy of Times Square provide an appropriate setting for the five year old, state-of-the-art Best Buy Theater (formerly the Nokia) on Broadway and 44th. The theater itself illuminates the night with a huge, animated light-show of a sign advertising the various goings-on inside. In many ways, the garish display typifies the excess and exploitation of the commercial music scene – even the name, Best Buy Theater, implies commerce more than art.

Vices selling verses.DSCF0557 OL_200

Switchfoot is touring their new release: the appropriately-titled Vice Verses. The tensions and contradictions of the day-to-day balancing act we call life is the inspiration for the project, and the band itself is somewhat of an object lesson in contradictions - a popular rock band promoting introspection instead of excess.

Tonight the San Diego-based quintet plays the Best Buy Theater: playing rock and roll, yes – but with a heart tuned into the human condition and lyrics acutely aware of the tensions between the spirit and the flesh. The band's current single, "Dark Horses," is meant to call attention to inner-city homeless children. About half-way through the show we're reminded by Switchfoot front-man, Jon Foreman that there's an area in the lobby where we can leave the requested backpacks to be distributed throughout the city to children in need.

Verses exposing vices.

DSCF0571OL 200The enthusiastic crowd knew most of the words to the dozen-or-so songs that the obviously well-rehearsed band played in their allotted 70 minute-set.  Jon Foreman (lead vocals, guitar), his brother Tim Foreman (bass guitar, backing vocals), Chad Butler (drums, percussion),Jerome Fontamillas (guitar, keyboards, backing vocals), and Drew Shirley (guitar, backing vocals) performed spot-on renditions of familiar hits, like "Dare You To Move," and the highly-charged "Stars," and managed to put a slightly new spin every now and then on some older material, just to make sure we were paying attention - "This is Your Life," in particular.

Obviously the emotional focal-point of the group, Foreman made good use of the whole stage, striding from one side to the other, crouching, kneeling, standing on monitors, wielding his guitar (when he played it) like a musical magic wand, and generally working hard to give the audience what they wanted. More than once, Foreman ended up leaving the stage and even worked his way through the delighted crowd, finishing up more than half-way deep into the room!

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The sound of the band was tight and crisp, full of energy and fire. The sound in the Best Buy Theater is excellent, the stage is expansive, the lighting is state-of-the-art (if occasionally a bit over the top), and there are large screens hung sporadically through the room, allowing good views of, for instance, Foreman's maneuvering through the crowd – lost to the naked eye but visible onscreen. The live stereo effect of the two guitars that open "Meant to Live" almost forced your head left-to-right and back again with the distinctive riff. The room is well-equipped for experiencing Switchfoot to their best effect.

Switchfoot is a band at the top of their game, and seem to be in a very good place musically, and in general. They've fine-tuned their sound, crafted a good stage show, and are achieving good things in and out of the studio.

They're ridin' the big one and just surfed through Times Square. Rock on, dudes.....

- words and pictures: Bert Saraco / Express Image