Switchfoot: The Awakening in KL…

by KV

Switchfoot. KL. Switchfoot. In KL. Switchfoot in KL. Even now these 2 words still do not seem plausible.

The Waiting…

02.02.08 – I met Chris (who made me a true Switchfoot fan years back) for lunch at Chili’s KLCC, & after meeting up Brendan (Chris’s younger bro), thus completing our holy trinity, we made our way leisurely to the Convention Center before 4.30pm, a solid 2 hours before the proposed start time. We were thinking, hey, there shouldn’t be too big of a crowd at such an early time right? Wrong. Turns out a huge crowd has already lined up in front of us, & we were propped up right at Hall 5, when the concert is in Hall 4.

The Crowd

“Why the french.connection.united.kingdom. the line already so long wan?!”

While waiting for the people with the tags who look supremely cocky at times to let us into the hall, we purchased ourselves Switchfoot t-shirts for RM40 each. Bad idea for the other booths (like poor Love Me Bu(i)tch’s booth) to be set up just next to the Switchfoot one. Why? It was obvious when only a particular 1 booth was overcrowded. As more people lined up (there was already a crowd that had to line up till outside the Convention Center), suddenly everyone in front of us started standing. Then there was running. We, like typical Malaysians, followed suit & started running, & suddenly we found ourselves really in front, lining up extremely near to the entrance. Turns out the organizers decided to open up another line to the existing line, & we were the lucky ones to be brought forward, haha! No cameras or water bottles allowed, they warned, but really, who was going to listen? Before 7pm, the doors opened & we found ourselves pretty much about 3 or 4 rows from the stage, & almost dead center. Perfect. Bring on the surfers.

The Crap Before…

I was a rock concert virgin. Except the mini Planetshakers concert a few years back, I’ve never been to a rock band performance before. & if it was a local rock band, I think I can safely say I will avoid them at all costs, after what I witnessed here. So when Rina Omar announced the 2 local acts that were opening for Switchfoot, I was dreading them. Local act Love Me Butch started the night with extreme jumbled noise blaring out of those poor Marshall amps that even overcame the lead singer’s screaming. Could not make out what he was singing the whole time. “Where’s the music?!”, someone in the crowd shouted at 1 time. Next was Altered Frequency, who were better, at least we could hear that the chaps were actually playing something in tune. But the crowd was not impressed, they wanted Switchfoot, & as bad as I wanted to pity our local acts, I was siding with the crowd.

It didn’t get better when Rina & some Indian DJ started throwing out free shirts to everyone but the people in the center. Then came the biggest disaster of the night, when they gave away a Gibson to a girl who barely even plays a guitar. Shouts of “can I be your boyfriend?” were thrown at her as she gleefully left the stage after being announced & presented as the lucky winner.

The Awakening…

As people were running around on stage busy changing the entire amps setup to Vox amps, removing the Yamaha drum set providing a clear view of the elevated Switchfoot drum set, & tuning the guitars, the anticipation level was high. We were getting restless, not helped by reported sightings of Drew Shirley who was peeking from a window above in the hall (scream!).

Finally, at 8.30pm (I think), we went bonkering berserk as Jon Foreman (lead vocals & guitars, sporting a jacket & his customary hat), Tim Foreman (bass, backing vocals, in a tie & jacket), Chad Butler (drums, in a cool I Am Lowercase People tee, a nod to the independent recording label of the band), Jerome Fontamillas (guitars, keyboards, synthesizer, backing vocals) & newest member Drew Shirley (guitars) hopped on stage. The crowd was deafening as the band jammed some introductory riffs from “Meant To Live” before kicking the night off with “Oh! Gravity”.

This was when what happened next was indescribable, so I will let these pictures speak for themselves (credit to Brendan, who was a superb cameraman that night).

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Highlights of the experience included a cover version of Beyonce’s “Crazy in Love” (Jon: “Thank you Beyonce!”) that was included in “Gone” with a little of Rihanna’s “Umbrella” towards the end, Jon jumping into the crowd during “Politicians” & screaming into the pickup of his electric guitar, the band going acoustic & all ‘camp-fire-mode’ in the beginning of “Only Hope”, Jon going mad, prancing around the stage hitting a cymbal of Chad’s, & my favourite, when the band members all paused & posed like rock star statues for a solid 2 minutes or so during “American Dream”. Notably, the band was in its own element during the upbeat “Awakening” (Chris’s favourite), “We Are One Tonight”, “This is Your Life” & “Meant To Live”, where the crowd sing-along was incredibly strong. Jon also expressed some of his thoughts during “Politicians” & before “American Dream”, which only strengthened the message behind their songs. The band paid tribute to loyal fans who stood by them since the beginning with “Learning To Breath”. The encore song (why 1 only?!) was of course, crowd-favourite “Dare You To Move”, where Jon, who returned in a I Heart KL t-shirt, started the song all solo & acoustic with his Taylor acoustic before Drew’s electric guitar tunes came in after the 1st chorus to launch a full-blown band version. The other songs they sang were “Dirty Second Hands” from the Oh! Gravity album, “Lonely Nation”, “Stars”, “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine” from Nothing is Sound, & “On Fire” from The Beautiful Letdown, summing up the 16-track set list. It would be impossible to single out a favourite for the night, but if I had to, I would specially mention “Meant to Live”, due to the energy the band channeled through & also the longest & passionate crowd singing, when Jon allowed us to take over, pointing his microphone towards us, from the bridge to the last chorus of the song.

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They were unbelievable, loved it especially the raw power when all 3 electric guitars played together. The energy displayed by the 5 humble dudes on stage were fantastic, & Jon’s showmanship & interaction skills were a marvel (he went down to the crowds twice!). & what was better was when we, the crowd, practically screamed & sang our lungs out to every single bloody song. Boy were there some die-hard fans there that night. The best of all, was the sound of the band. They sounded phenomenal live, not just Jon’s stunning vocals (he hit all the high notes with such power it was crazy) but the entire setup was balanced & simply mind-blowing. It was also hilarious when Jon invited us to sing along with him, & he gave us all these high “ehh ehh ehhhhhhh” notes & we had to scream our balls off, going all off tune of course. They rocked hard, no need for any fancy stage props or extravagant clothings, it was all about the music that night, simple clean rock vibrations. My only regret (a very minor 1 at that) was that they didn’t perform “Ammunition” or “Twenty-Four”, both among my favourites.

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As the 5 of them bowed & left the stage rather quick at around 10.15pm, no one would have left the hall with even a little sense of disappointment. Nope, none of us were disappointed, even though 1 of the guitar picks thrown by Switchfoot to the fans fell on the floor just in front of me but was snatched by the guy beside me in a flash, even though Brandon found RM50 on the floor, pocketed it, & then dropped it somewhere after that, even though a Gibson was given away to a girl who knows nuts about guitars, even though my knees & ankles were sore from all the jumping, & even though the local acts gave us all early migraines. Everything was forgiven, for Switchfoot came, rocked & conquered KL. Seeing them live is beyond words, so thank you for not ignoring us Malaysians when you made a stop in Singapore & other countries. Switchfoot may not step into our shores in the near future or even ever again, but then again, I dare to hope, for just before this, we never thought they would actually ever come, did we? Bring on more indie bands, anytime!

Jon Foreman: “So, this is our first time in KL?”
Crowd: “Yeaaahhhhh!!!!”
Jon Foreman: “Where were you guys all this while?”

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We were here, all this while. Waiting. Always. Thank you.

Quote of the week: “Oww oww fuckity oww!” – Juno MacGuff.

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