Before Thursday night’s concerts, we talked to members of Switchfoot and Relient K – audio from those chats will be coming soon – and both groups talked about how gratifying it is to hear a crowd sing their songs back to them.
It can also be pretty gratifying for the audience.
Switchfoot’s performance, in particular, demonstrated how much having songs the crowd has taken to heart can create an intimate atmosphere, even in an amphitheater packed with thousands of people.
We heard how well the crowd knew the Switchfoot catalog when frontman Jon Foreman turned the microphone over to the audience during Dare You to Move and the crowd called it back to him crisply. Relient K’s set demonstrated the same familiarity, unintentionally, when frontman Matt Thiessen’s microphone briefly failed, and the audience picked up the lead.
Members of Switchfoot, which has bounced between mainstream and Christian markets, like to say they are not preaching or performing with an agenda. But Foreman delivers plenty of exhortations from the stage, and a talk about civil rights leader John M. Perkins and comments such as “Works cannot be separated from faith, my friends” seemed to be taken to heart by an audience that knew exactly where he was coming from.
Music spread out across the festival site Thursday, including the new Galleria stage, which is billed as an acoustic stage, though acts such as Bluetree and Phil Keaggy plugged in. Keaggy reportedly commanded an audience of musicians and festival officials created an impromptu autograph session after one of his sets.