Switchfoot and their Fantastic Traveling Music show at the Columbus Athenaeum!

On October 13, Switchfoot’s Fantastic Traveling Music Show stopped by the Columbus Athenaeum! This is a very special tour because Switchfoot is playing a double set every single night and playing only in seated theaters! A whole night of only Switchfoot?! Count me in. Switchfoot has been my favorite band for over 15 years now, and this was actually my 31st time seeing them live. Of all the times I’ve been to their concerts, this was absolutely one of the best Switchfoot tours I can remember and definitely the most unique. The whole night was more of a theatrical experience and felt super personal and as Switchfoot described it, a “thank you” to fans for supporting them through over 20 years and 11 albums! The whole tour took on a shipwreck/nautical theme and seemed to be heavily influenced by the Wes Anderson's movie, The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, so it had some really fun and unique elements. I saw this same show a week earlier in Saginaw and enjoyed the differences between the two nights. Switchfoot rarely plays the same setlist and loves including fan requests, so each night is a special experience!

Upon entering the Columbus Athenaeum, we were instructed if we had song requests to write them on cards and put them in the bottles onstage. The “message in a bottle” song request idea was just one of the many fun aspects of the show. As the starting time drew closer, a projected video appeared on the boat sail onstage about Food for the Hungry, which is an organization that Switchfoot brought along this tour. This band truly cares about people and changing the world, which is definitely echoed in their hopeful, inspiring songs. Their aim this tour is to get 365 kids sponsored. After the Food for the Hungry video, another video began as an intro to the Fantastic Traveling Music Show! It introduced each band member and crew member and included their titles in regards to their voyage at sea! I enjoyed that the crew members were included too because with a tour like this, there’s so much that goes on behind the scenes. After the video, all of Switchfoot’s members and crew came out onstage in light blue outfits and red beanies and stood in a line. After a few moments, the crew members walked off, leaving only the band. The lights went black and started flashing, mimicking lightening, sounds of thunder, and finally… a shipwreck! The storm calmed, the lights came up, and the show began. Frontman Jon Foreman came out with just a notepad as guitarist Drew Shirley held a lantern as he narrated Jon’s thoughts and journal entries about being shipwrecked. He talked about their voyage thus far, and landing in Columbus. It was lighthearted and such a fun way to start off their acoustic set, “ACT 1: SHIPWRECK (obviously.)”

The first stage set was beautiful and contributed a lot to how theatrical the whole show felt. We learned later that a lot of the elements onstage were hand painted, from the boat to the life vests to the flags. There was also a large sail, a starry night backdrop that lit up, a boat wheel, rocks, a campfire, and more! The first set was all acoustic and really did feel like being shipwrecked, sitting around a campfire with my favorite band. The first song of the night was “Hello Hurricane” and immediately, everyone in the audience was engaged in the set. After a couple more songs, the band members looked out into the audience and asked for the "message in a bottle" lost out at sea (thoughtfully placed in different spots in the venue) and “floated” back up to the stage. They emptied all the song requests and picked out a few to do live during both sets. One of my favorites they chose for the first set was “You’re the One I Want,” which Jon sang while playing piano, and is off their newest album Native Tongue. Another requested song I was excited to hear live was “Faust, Midas, and Myself,” which sounds extra amazing with a ukulele and an upright bass! Switchfoot played about ten songs in total for the first set, including some mashups of songs and also a cover of U2’s “With or Without You.” They also took some time to talk about their vision for this special tour. As much as I love acoustic sets, I was excited for the next set, “ACT 2: TO THE STARS.”

After a short intermission, the music faded, and Jon walked out with his brother and bass player, Tim. By this point, the whole stage set had changed along with the band members’ outfits. With just a ukulele and a shared microphone, they began singing “Edge of the Earth.” As the song progressed, the whole band came in strong with the beautiful new stage set lit up behind them. After the shipwrecked first act, the stage set for the second act felt bright and beautiful; the calm after the storm. There was a big hot air balloon that lit up with the Switchfoot logo, hanging in front of a sky backdrop with hanging clouds and string lights. They played a mix of newer songs, like “Take my Fire” off their newest album and older songs they don’t often do live, like “4:12” and “Gone.” Aside from taking song requests from the message in a bottle, they also took a request from a seagull that was lowered from the ceiling which was both hilarious and amazing. The request attached to the seagull was from someone there celebrating her sister’s 24th birthday, and they wanted to hear the song, “Twenty-four.” Jon headed out into the audience with his mic stand and acoustic guitar to find them. He set up in the back of the theater on the floor, with the rest of the band following. They performed the song while backlit by the spotlight and surrounded by singing fans. It was a pretty magical moment! Jon also made sure to greet the two fans and hug the girl celebrating her birthday. If you’ve ever been to a Switchfoot show, you know these guys are so incredibly kind and love engaging with their fans. They started performing "Native Tongue" as Jon headed back up to the stage. He made sure to stop by some of the back rows of the venue as he was singing to give some high fives and lots of smiles. He also grabbed a "Love is our Native Tongue" fan-made banner on his way back up to the stage that he held up during the song.

After a few more songs, the band walked offstage as the audience got louder and louder. They came back out and did a few more songs, including “Float,” which, if you’ve ever seen Switchfoot do this song live you know lots of bubbles and a disco ball are involved! The last song of the night, which is a common occurrence at Switchfoot shows, was “Where I Belong.” A fan holding a banner with the name of the song on it passed it forward to Jon. He held the banner up and then draped it over his shoulders for the remainder of the song. “Where I Belong” in my opinion is one of the best Switchfoot songs they’ve ever written so it always gets me all up in my feels as their concerts draw to a close. Before the song was over, Jon was out in the audience again and paying a visit to those seated in one of the elevated side sections. Before I knew it, Jon was back onstage with the rest of the band, arms around each other, and taking a bow before walking off in conclusion of the Fantastic Traveling Music Show. This was definitely one of my favorite Switchfoot shows ever and would encourage any Switchfoot fan to make sure you don’t miss this tour! Jon, Tim, Chad, Jerome, and Drew are such kind and wonderful people that you can tell just love what they get to do. They are so engaging with fans both on and off stage, are ridiculously talented, and are just a joy to watch perform time and time again. This is truly such a unique show, and I think I smiled the entire time I was there. You can just tell both Switchfoot and their awesome crew put a ton of work into making this tour amazing and you don’t want to miss it!

ACT 1:

ACT 2:

Catch Switchfoot and their Fantastic Traveling Music Show on one of the remaining tour dates:

10/24 - Jacksonville, FL

10/26 - Memphis, TN

10/27 - Jackson, MS

10/29 - Little Rock, AR

10/30 - Oklahoma City, OK

11/2 - Boulder, CO

11/4 - Visalia, CA

11/5 - Riverside, CA

11/7 - Thousand Oaks, CA

11/8 - Napa, CA

11/9 - Stockton, CA

11/10 - Redding, CA

2/14 - Mobile, AL