“America, who are you?” Jon Foreman, frontman of Switchfoot, shouted throughout the DeltaPlex. With the flick of a switch, a flashlight beam scanned the crowd where thousands of people from all generations cheered in response. This was only part of what made the Relient K and Switchfoot concert memorable for everyone in attendance.
From the moment Matt Thiessen took to the guitar with “Local Construction” to Drew Shirley’s last guitar riff in “Dare You to Move,” the stadium was captivated by the charismatic personalities of the men that make up Relient K and Switchfoot.
Both Christian bands came to Grand Rapids Sept. 29 as part of their “Looking for America” tour. Relient K, an alternative band formed in 1997, entertained the audience with its quirky personality, which has become the band’s signature identifier. Their set was characterized with a buffalo statue, incense and a handful of trumpets, which were utilized throughout the set.
Only lead singer, Matt Thiessen, and lead guitarist, Matt Hoopes, l have remained in the band since the beginning. Dave Douglas, a former drummer who left in 2007, returned for this tour to the crowd’s delight.
Relient K’s songs range from “Sadie Hawkins Dance” with a nostalgic look at high school to “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been,” where the speaker takes an introspective look at his actions to realize he regrets past decisions. The set wrapped up with a hard-hitting song called “Deathbed,” where a man’s life is analyzed from start to finish and he turns from a life of brokenness to find a need for Jesus.
After a half-hour set change, Switchfoot was ready to perform. A video played beforehand, advertising “Cure,” an organization the tour has been supporting that helps provide funds for children around the world without the financial means to obtain necessary surgery procedures.
Similarly, after the first couple songs, Foreman took a moment to address the fact that one dollar from every ticket was unknowingly donated to Bro-Am, an organization the band created. Bro-Am is an annual event in San Diego involving a charity surf contest and a free concert that provides money for at-risk youth in the surrounding area.
Switchfoot played a variety of songs from all of their albums, opening with “Holy Water,” a song off of their newest album “Where the Light Shines Through.” The show incorporated a disco ball, bubbles, confetti and an acoustic version of “Hello Hurricane” with one drum, one guitar and an accordion.
Foreman also made sure to interact with the crowd in any and every way possible. Besides the common trend of crowd surfing, he also walked through the crowd to the people sitting in the back, held hands with people, wore a hat tossed to him and draped a sign around himself that someone made reading “we are fire” from the band’s song “When We Come Alive.”
The bands have a tight relationship and essentially treat each other like brothers. Maybe this is a result of similar beginnings—Switchfoot formed a year before Relient K—but maybe it’s also an outcome of common interests and music goals. Despite the tension throughout the country right now, the two bands made one thing clear: they are striving to bring light and hope to the miserable state our country and world faces today.
After two back-to-back shows in Detroit and Grand Rapids, with arenas full of dedicated and loving fans, we can only assume the mitten will be impatiently awaiting their return. The “Looking for America” tour will be in process through the end of Nov.