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Switchfoot & The Almost
The National
Richmond, Virginia

by Susan Lloyd

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to catch Switchfoot on their fall tour in Richmond, VA. Armed with a press pass, my camera gear, and a friend I headed to The National in downtown Richmond for what proved to be another amazing Switchfoot experience. I had never been to The National before and love to visit new venues, and it turns out The National is one of those places you wish you had in your own hometown. Lofty ceilings with richly appointed woodwork, a gently sloping wooden floor that had more width than depth, opera box seats, and a grand balcony, The National is a beautiful reminder of Richmond's theater past. As much as I love to see Switchfoot in a more intimate club setting, I knew this theater would do nothing but enhance the Switchfoot concert experience.

Guitar

Switchfoot's touring partner, The Almost, began their set with tons of energy that did not let up throughout their time on the stage. Front man Aaron Gillespie, former drummer of Underoath, had no trouble getting the crowd fired up and ready to go. Gillespie is a natural performer who displays passion and drive in the way he handles the stage and crowd. And The Almost is an excellent band. While I wasn't familiar with all of the songs they chose to play that night, I did know Southern Weather and judging from the reaction of the crowd, they recognized that one as well. Crowd enthusiasm was also a good indicator of what was to come when the 'Foot hit the stage as well.

Jon Foreman

The Almost payed tribute to Tom Petty by covering his 80's hit "Free Fallin'", and they killed it. I had heard this band perform the same song a few weeks back on a much smaller stage. While they did a great job with it then it's clear that the size of the crowd and their warm reception of the band had a positive impact on the way they handled the song at The National. Before they ended their set with their big hit "Say This Sooner", Gillespie made it clear that all members of the band are believers and reminded the crowd that they are loved by God's son Jesus Christ. "Say this Sooner" was performed in a way that probably left the crowd wanting more from The Almost, and Gillespie's passionate exit from the stage (he threw down his mic and ripped the suspender straps from his shoulders) was right in line with the tone of their set.

Guitar

I've followed Switchfoot for several years now and reviewed many shows, and I can say I am always impressed with the level of excellence these guys have on (and off) stage. Passion, energy, warmth, sincerity, and killer guitar hooks...these guys simply never disappoint. And this night in Richmond was no different.

The band began with the larger than life "Stars" which brings four of the five members of this band to the front of stage for the huge opening riffs of the song. Truly, you can't imagine how much energy that song generates live from the stage until you experience it for yourself. From Switchfoot's catalog, it's probably the perfect opening song. The National boasts a fairly large stage area, and Switchfoot had no trouble filling the space with sound and movement. Jon Foreman as front man somehow manages to close the gap between stage and audience and before the end of the third song he had already made one trip to the railing of the barricade to lean down and sing into the crowd. Foreman also wandered out into the crowd during "Bullet Soul" and "On Fire". And the crowd loved it. Although the show was not sold out, it didn't seem to matter. The fans showed up with nothing but love for Switchfoot and they danced, jumped, sang, and screamed their way through the entire set.

Keyboard

There were a few show stoppers in the set, one new song, and one that has rarely been performed in a concert setting. "Free" and "Yet" from the band's latest album Hello Hurricane were definite stand outs with "Free" featuring both Foreman brothers and Jerome Fontamillas pounding on a large tom at different points in the performance. And probably the most underrated performance of the night is the guitar work Drew Shirley plays on that song. It's simply brilliant, and I'm not sure most fans realize the depth of the musicianship in those few moments. "Yet" featured a very stripped down drum layer that allowed drummer Chad Butler to come out from behind his drums and join the rest of the band at the front of the stage. Switchfoot trotted out a new song (pun intended) for these fans called "Dark Horses", and while I was able to hear the song earlier during sound check, I think it was this performance that made it feel like a true Switchfoot tune. Although it's a new tune, it was received well by the crowd. And while huge hits like "Oh! Gravity" and "Meant to Live" are the real diamonds of the set, it was Switchfoot's performance of "Daisy", a tune rarely heard from the stage, that took everyone's breath away. The acoustic start to the song quieted the crowd but as the music got larger, the crowd got louder, and I dare to say it was the best performance of the night.

Crowd

Switchfoot ended their set with "Awakening" but it wasn't too long before they returned to the stage with their encore that included "Hello Hurricane" and the inspiring "Dare you to Move". No doubt about it, it was one of the finer Switchfoot shows I've attended and I was glad to have the chance to shoot and review. The fall tour is a short one and it's also the last chance fans will have to see the 'foot before they retreat to work on their next album entitled Vice Verses. There are still tickets available on the remainder of the tour and you can find ticket links by visiting the band's website at Switchfoot.com While you're there, you may want to consider signing up for Friends of the Foot which is a paid membership that allows members to attend soundcheck and meet and greet prior the afternoon of the show. For show photos from The National tour stop, click here.

Group

Group

View more concert photos at Susan's Flickr page here

All photos copyright Susan Lloyd. All rights reserved. Do not duplicate without permission.

Susan Lloyd is a professional photographer in Charleston, South Carolina who specializes in shooting concerts. She holds a degree in Music Education and has worked as a worship leader and as a youth minister. She is passionate about all types of music and enjoys encouraging and supporting bands who seek to glorify God. She also loves movies, animals, traveling, and making new friends. She and her husband have three kids and have been married for nearly 17 years. More info about Susan's photography can be found at www.susanlloydphotography.com or www.susieq3c.wordpress.com