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The rock band Switchfoot made its first appearance at the legendary Surf Ballroom in Clear Lake, Iowa, in late October 2023. Frontman Jon Foreman wondered why it took the group so long to appear there. But that didn’t matter to the 1,500 fans, including myself, in the cozy venue who came to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Switchfoots’s popular album “Beautiful Letdown,” which has sold over 3 million copies.

Switchfoot formed in 1996 as a self-proclaimed “surfer band” in San Diego, Calif. Foreman and his brother, Tim, play the part of surfers with long, beachy blond hair. Jon Foreman’s raspy voice and his top-notch guitar skills were impressive. He engaged the crowd and often held the microphone and mic stand out to the crowd, urging them to sing back to the group. And the crowd loved it, singing every word. The five-member band played the entire “Beautiful Letdown” album and several other tunes.

Foreman also came into the crowd for one song, confessing that sometimes things go wrong with that strategy. But the frontman survived and was back on stage with the help of fans. Concert-goer Addie drove 3.5 hours from Rock Island, Ill., to join two friends from Minneapolis, Minn. for her second Switchfoot show. “It hit me emotionally. I cried a lot,” she said. “(Foreman) seems happier than most of us.”

Foreman has maintained in interviews that Switchfoot isn’t a Christian band but Christian guys playing music. Song themes include various life issues and make the listener contemplate and reflect on the words. Regardless of their label, fans truly appreciate the band and the Clear Lake audience showed plenty of appreciation. Switchfoot can now say it has played the Surf Ballroom just like many greats from Willie Nelson to BB King, ZZ Top, Roy Clark, Miranda Lambert and a host of others.


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