Ah, yes - unconditional love. Isn't that what we all need? After coming home from the victorious ultimate VIP experience of a Switchfoot concert in NYC, my phone screen blared the unspoken still of Jon Foreman.
"Ironically, this album of light was born from one of the darkest times I’ve ever been through. But instead of running away from the darkness, I wanted to meet it face to face. So I made a commitment to sit on a rock near the ocean for thirty minutes a day and wrestle with these dark questions. The darkness and I would argue every night. On the same rock, under the same stars: just the darkness and I fighting it out alongside of the uncompromising roar of the pacific ocean. And somehow, against that backdrop of darkness, light began to break through. These scars of mine began to turn into songs" What are my struggles? What are my fears? Where do I find God? Or more aptly put- where does God find me? "
Well, there you have it. The soul-searching struggles of a small humble heart from a big-bold-band. Birthed out of San Diego California, Switchfoot recently released their tenth studio album Where the Light Shines Through, a purpose filled and poetic effort which channels their early pop-punk waves with an island inspired melodic breeze. With fervor and faith, songs like Hope is The Anthem and Float On, kindle the fire of fans of old, and fan the flames of young newcomers.
Spawned from human frailty and doused in a heart of fire, these songs are not a lifeless mantra echoed from a faceless crowd.
They are whispers to God from the mouths of men, which radically change hearts from restless to relentless and from wrecked to radiant.
On October 17 2016 at PlayStation Theater, I rushed through the swinging doors and bumped into Beth and her husband.
"Hey! Did you get your ticket okay?"
Caught off guard by the woman who stood quietly next to me on line, I was surprised by her genuine concern about my small mishap with the Box-Office. I thanked her and told her I was making my way to see Relient- K (rest in peace to all of the "Hand-Heart Awkward" pop-punk playlists that blared from the early 2000's) right before she quickly mouthed to me her testimony of saving grace.
Beth informed me that her and her husband was at this concert to celebrate their anniversary and her continuing recovery of being six -months CANCER FREE! (She also told me Switchfoot was the first band that they got their kids into) ((insert mom points here)).
As I reached the VIP line to enter backstage I met Steve in a Free Hugs tee, and W.W.J.D bracelet. His gracious and bubbly personality was super contagious. I was then blessed to hear another testimony of the light shining through deep dark wounds.
"I didn't want to live. I battled with depression and health problems from a young age. I was sick and tired of being sick and tired." At the end of his wits and alone is where he first discovered the God-driven sounds of Switchfoot.
"you are golden, you are golden child.
You're a lonely soul, in a land of broken hearts,
you're far from home, it's the perfect place to start."
"I felt like God was calling me back to Him. That night saved my life."
As I sat in the shadows of the stage behind blaring guitar amps, I got my camera ready. I think the best spot to see everything was exactly where I was - the space between the faces of fans and the clear chord progressions of lead guitarist Drew Shirley.
There in the small nothingness, I got to be a witness of the anthemic throwback of 2003's The Beautiful Letdown (Dare You to Move and Meant to Live) and newbies of earnest lyricism like I Won't Let you Go (featured live video).
I panned the once strange faces that held heartfelt testimonials of new found glory, there was Amber, hands-held high, smack-dab front row and center.
After the stage dives were dead and gone, the show was coming to an end. The outpouring of thousands of tiny little bubbles settled on skin after the collab performance of Jon Foreman and Matt Thiessen (Pianist and lead Relient-K).
I bumped into Amber, on the way out. I was moved by her zeal in the front row so much so, that I gave her my redeemed set-list in hand.
"I came across "Dare You to Move" through a friend, and I just broke down crying".
She confessed her suicide attempts to me, and how she was inspired to keep going through music. It was after her last hospital visit she quickly discovered Switchfoot. She walked through the rawness of New Way to Be Human (1999) which held the song of prayer, Only Hope.
I was there when it happened. The lightbulb above my head told me that I did not just attend a rock-concert but that I just came to a victorious community of not-so-regular humans who perservered through much pain and suffering - and I was a part of it.
I got my eyes opened by the soul-struggles of humanity, the wounds of strangers with battlefield-sized light bearing wounds (and with the help of some humble musicians), I was a part of a people who dared to unbandage and show me how beautiful their scars can really be.