“I feel bad for everyone who came to see Switchfoot or Colony House and are all hyped up, maybe had a couple Red Bull, and they walk in and it’s…me.”
Tyson Motsenbocker had no problems charming the crowd on Thursday night at Phoenix’s Van Buren. His mellow singer-songwriter tracks were a quiet kickoff for the Native Tongue tour, but he projected genuine warmth from the stage and shared that he was grateful to be in Phoenix because it means he’s heading home soon.
Though he joked that this wasn’t a Young Life meeting, Motsenbocker explained his faith and his criticism toward society’s treatment of the concept of God, at which point a sizeable portion of the crowd headed for the bar. Still, though, he persevered and told other stories throughout his set, closing with a singalong.
Colony House wasted no time in getting on stage and launching into—can we call them classics yet?—classic tracks “You & I” and “Silhouettes,” both showing that they’ve grown into the larger stages they now play as direct support for a big name. They said they want to be the best supporting artists possible and thanked both the crowd and Switchfoot early on.
Their growth has also lent itself to comfort with talking between songs, and frontman Caleb Chapman talked about how “2:20” was a love song he started writing at seven years old and how it still applies to the pretty girl, now his wife, he saw in the cafeteria so long ago.
The setlist was a quick glimpse into their two albums, 2014’s When I Was Younger and 2017’s Only the Lonely that took the crowd through a full spectrum from rock n’ roll to an acoustic rendition of “Caught Me by Surprise.” The stripped-down version let the band’s voices all shine in perfect harmony.
Switchfoot was a dream band both for Motsenbocker and Colony House, and they’re all big fans, they said. It’s hard not to be a fan of the San Diego rockers, who have released some of the biggest hits of the 2000s and are truly class acts. They couldn’t say enough about the other artists on tour and were so in awe to be in their company.
Switchfoot also brought a fan on stage for “Stars” after seeing his sign asking to play the song with them. “Do you like playing on Les Pauls?” Jon Foreman asked while Tucker, who’s a local musician, smiled awestruck.
Things got emotional for the band during “Live it Well,” when Jon Foreman introduced keyboardist Jerome Fontamillas, who recently beat cancer. Foreman spoke at length about celebrating life and all of its ups and downs, and it was a much more low key way to bring up the topic of faith.
After a year-long hiatus between 2017 and 2018, the crowd was thrilled to hear two decades of hits and new material from NATIVE TONGUE. And Switchfoot delivered. The show had three sets—one on the main stage, one acoustic mini-set from the sound board, and an encore. They looked back fondly on their career and the stories behind their songs with the wisdom that only veteran bands have.
So when they had the crowd pull out their cell phone flashlights to light up the room for “Dare You to Move,” it was a thank you to the fans who have been a consistent light for all of these years.
Story and photos by Taylor Gilliam