I’ve seen Switchfoot live before and loved them—they are one of those bands that I’ve enjoyed for many years and their live show was pretty solid when I saw them before. So when I got concert tickets for the Tour de Compadres show for my birthday, I was pretty pumped. I hadn’t seen Needtobreathe live before, but I enjoy most of their singles, so I figured between the Switchfoot’s alt rock and Needtobreathe’s folky rock style, it would be a good show.
The show I went to was in Indianapolis at the White River State Park on the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn. Most of the venues I frequent are little hole-in-the-wall places where everyone crowds up front. And the few outside shows I’ve been to were for local bands, so the sprawling “lawn-styled” venue was a fairly new experience for me. The Farm Bureau Lawn is big enough that you can’t see the features of the performers’ faces from the general admission lawn, but not nearly as large as the types of venues where you actually need the screens to see what’s happening on stage. It provides enough space to spread out a blanket, but not so big that you lose the sense of immersion in the concert experience. The open space is great for the fact that you could hear the bands and be surrounded by the music without having the ringing ears the next day. It was also a lovely feature to be able to watch the sun set and to feel the cool night breeze. Another awesome perk is that the Farm Bureau Insurance Lawn provides beach chairs for general admission. As I said, I’d never been to a “lawn” concert before, so I was worried about bringing our own seats. As long as you get there in time, there are enough free seats available—you just have to search for them and go get them. If you don’t make it in time, there are apparently lawn chairs to rent as well.
The first opener was indie rock group Colony House, followed by Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors. Their sets were enjoyable, but the sun was still beating down while they played, which made it hard to want to move out of my chair. I could tell that mostly everyone else felt the same as we all wiped away beads of sweat—only a few scattered people actually stood. There were also plenty of stragglers that were still trickling in during these first two sets.
However, as soon as Switchfoot entered the stage, every single person got up to their feet. Switchfoot listeners seem to be either the people that have listened to the band’s music for well over a decade or the new fans and casual radio listeners. But no matter which category you fall into, Switchfoot treated their set as a nice blend of their top hits, kicking off with “Stars.” It included practically every single they have had in the history of their career, which makes it easily assessable to old and new fans alike, and is great for those who actually enjoy singing along or want to hear something that they know. However, I didn’t feel like their set changed a whole lot from when I saw them in concert four years ago, so I’m not sure how much variety the repeat Switchfoot concert-goer will experience. Still, I enjoyed it, and I enjoy seeing Jon Foreman interact with the crowd and step offstage for a song or two (and climb the scaffolding, of course).
The sun completely set and the sky grew dark as Needtobreathe began their headlining act. They are fun and folksy—it makes it hard not to move your feet. I certainly enjoyed their set—I don’t know all their songs, but you’d better believe that I was singing along to the ones I did know, including that fun rendition of Jackson 5’s “I Want You Back.” Their final song came as a surprise, because it seemed like a short set, but they obviously were banking on an encore (who doesn’t, nowadays?). After reentering the stage, they played “Brother,” which is a definite fan favorite, and they made it even better by inviting all the previous bands to come back on the stage to sing it with them. It was fun watching all the band members dance around near the end of the song. Then they finished out the night with “Washed by the Water,” which is full of soul and fun to sing with a giant crowd of people.
It was an enjoyable concert, but it was interesting how mild-mannered the crowd was. There were plenty of families in the audience, and people were fairly polite and respectful of space. It’s a double-edged sword though—sometimes it felt like the bands had to put in the extra effort to draw a response from a crowd that was fine with clapping, but seemed hesitant to actually dance or move around. Normally there seems like there’s a current of energy just rushing through the air in a concert, but this one simply seemed a little more laid back than what I’m used to.
Apparently there was also an impromptu aftershow held by Switchfoot. Unfortunately, I had to head home beforehand because of work the next day, but I simply love the fact that the band does things like that just to spend more time hanging around people and singing their songs. Sure, there’s VIP tickets and meet and greets, but Switchfoot has always seemed to make a point of making themselves accessible to their fans, and I appreciate that.
The bands even mentioned that it was one of their favorite tours yet, and I think that the artists chosen for the tour provided a complementary fit. The venue was all right in my book—not overly crowded but not empty either. Would I pay for a lawn seat again? I guess it depends on the show, but I stick by the philosophy that the closer you are to the stage, the better the concert experience, so I’d be willing to chip in a few more bucks for better seats. Still, it was a fun night and a good show, and I would definitely go again if given the chance.