Although their popularity has exploded within the past year since their first ever mainstream release, The Beautiful Letdown, Switchfoot is anything but new to the rock music scene. Known for their poetic heart-on-their-sleeve lyrics and artistically glazed pop rock sounds, the California native band has been making great music since the release of their first album in 1997. Since their start in college, the band has always had a youthful approach to their songwriting. As they mature in age, they're maturing in every area of their artistry and it shows on Letdown. With the changes all around them, so has their live show evolved and matured. Still as energetic and captivating as ever, their current live show is more of a rock performance than before and the band's first all live DVD project sets out to capture that energy.
Live In San Diego places the audience right on the stage with the band. I've been to several of the band's shows over the years and it's been exciting to watch their progression from a pop-friendly rock band to an all-out down-n-dirty rock n' roll band. The ironic thing about that is, while their image has shifted considerably, their sound hasn't been as drastic of a change. While there's a little more of an emphasis on the rock side, they're still the same great band from San Diego, with the only exception being the transformation from a trio to a quartet with the addition of Jerome Fontamallis.
But to review Live In San Diego as a normal Switchfoot live show would be unfair. The live show is raw, unbridled, and personal. Switchfoot is a fan's band and they take pride in that. Live is a packaged view at what a fan might see at a SF live show. It's more of a souvenir or a must-have for the fans than a true representation of what you get at one of their shows. The production quality and editing of the DVD is top-notch and executed exceptionally well. The mixing of the instruments appears off at times, varying in quality and presence from song to song, purifying and polishing what can only really be experienced to its fullest from within the intensity of the live audience.
The set list seems surprisingly short for the overall show. While frontman Jon Foreman is known for extensive between-song interaction with the crowd, the interaction is minimized in this performance, giving it an almost rushed or abbreviated feel. Ten of the eleven total cuts on Beautiful Letdown are performed here with the only cut from any of the band's three previous records being "Learning To Breathe." This is the biggest disappointment as they have many incredible songs on those albums including - but not limited to - "Chem6A," "New Way To Be Human," "Loser," "Company Car," and others.
Despite the nitpicking from this longtime Switchfoot enthusiast, Live In San Diego is a fan's delight. From candid interviews and behind-the-scenes footage to the inclusion of the band's "Meant To Live" video, Live In San Diego is treasure for any established Switchfoot fan, but not the truest way to introduce a would-be fan to the best that these guys have to offer.- review date: 3/27/04, written by John DiBiase
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