Switchfoot: The Stories Redemption Tells

Switchfoot’s Native Tongue tour stopped in Nashville on a rainy night in February. It was close enough to the beginning of the tour that everyone was a little giddy; after all, a year earlier, the future of Switchfoot had seemed deeply uncertain as they entered a hiatus. Now we had a brand new album and a chance to see them at the Ryman Auditorium, one of the most revered venues in the country. Every fan in line seemed to feel the gift of that reality.

I was feeling it in a deeply personal way as I slung a couple cameras around my neck and settled in to take some pictures. I had just begun a new round of medical testing and specialists, necessitated by growing concerns about my health. Two years of neurological problems had become partial blindness episodes, occasional partial paralysis, and the near constant present of lighting bolt webs of pain. I was filling out medical paperwork asking me questions like whether I had life insurance or a will. At 27 years old, these are not questions you’re prepared to be answering.

With those kinds of maybes hanging over my head, it seemed both impossible and yet earth-shatteringly necessary to engage the experience Switchfoot was presenting to us that night in Nashville. There is something about their music that strips reality down to its core, that reminds you who you are, reminds you what the world could be.

The night began the same way their new album does, with “Let it Happen” exploding into the room with its aching confession: “Let it happen, let it happen / I don’t hold what the future holds / But I know You’re my future.

As Switchfoot intentionally interspersed songs new and old, “Voices” juxtaposed with “Meant to Live,” “Stars” making an appearances as well as “Dig New Streams,” it became increasingly clear that Native Tongue fits comfortably in their broader discography– it may be the band’s identity distilled into its purest form yet.

We live in a reality of breaking down, of loss, where the wildfires of this world can leave you wondering if there is any true beauty left. We live in a world of refugees, of untimely deaths, of fractured relationships– of uncomfortably staring disease in the face. Switchfoot has never denied that. The truth of it caught like a lump in my throat as I sang along with an acoustic rendition of “The Shadow Proves the Sunshine,” one of my favorite songs of all time. There is a pain that can get inside your bones.

But, their songs suggest, maybe there’s still something more. Look to the unity created in a room full of strangers singing and dancing to “Float” as a disco ball scatters flecks of light across their faces. Look to the wonder of Jerome Fontamillas celebrating his newly announced cancer free status. Look to the spontaneously cobbled together rendition of “Saltwater Heart” at the request of an audience member. There’s a truth beneath the decay. “I won’t let you go,” Jon Foreman sang, aligning his voice with the heart of the Maker. It was as if all the goodness of the world embraced the room to echo the same.

We climbed through the highs and lows of the songs with the band, with the audience, each note a stepping stone. To participate in a Switchfoot performance can be transformative; this one certainly was. I remembered that love, hope, grace, are all still the truest things– and I remembered it because they had taken on the trappings of lyric and melody, made real in the room. These are the stories redemption tells.

The main set culminated in “Dare You to Move,” a song that has chased me (and so many others) through well over a decade of life. I’ve heard it sung in deserted parking lots, unplugged in a tiny church, in open fields. That night, I heard it piercing into the valley of my own life as a divine invitation. Through my sickness, through the actual dread of death hanging around my spirit, the piercing words called me: “maybe redemption has stories to tell, maybe forgiveness is right where you fell. Where can you run to escape from yourself? Where you gonna go? Salvation is here.”

The encore ended with the same song Switchfoot always uses as a closer, another touchstone for the heart of who Switchfoot is: “Where I Belong.” The world of goodness and beauty that Switchfoot’s music seeks to uncover, to dig out of the heartache, is one we all collectively leaned into with the piercing longing of “Where I Belong.”

“And on that final day I die
I want to hold my head up high
I want to tell you that I tried
To live it like a song.

And when I reach the other side
I want to look you in the eye
And know that I’ve arrived
In a world where I belong
.

In the face of all the worst the world can throw at us, the temptation is to be motionless. When the death at work in our relationships and minds and our very breath and bones weighs down our spirits, it can pin us to the ground. Fear whispers that we’ll stay there, that all our actions are entropy, that maybe there is not even a better world to hope for.

A few times over the years I have been enjoying and covering music, I have attended concerts that felt more like a revelation. This one felt that way to me. It was light colliding with that deathly weight in my bones. It was the invitation I needed, the one that has chased me since I was just a kid, the hope that I believe will pursue me til the end of my days: “I dare you to move.”

See a full photo gallery from the night.

***

I now know that my condition is not life-threatening. I do, however, have a chronic, degenerative neurological disease that doctors are still working to diagnose, a disease that will likely leave me with these symptoms steadily worsening for the rest of my life.

None of us know how many days we have left. I have been made keenly aware of that, and aware also that I could lose more physical functionality at any time. The witness of Switchfoot reminds me what matters in light of that kind of urgency. “I don’t hold what the future holds, but I know You’re my future.”

Zahna Prepares for Kidney Transplant

In an emotional live video to fans this evening, Zahna announced to fans, friends, and family that she will be getting a kidney transplant on May 17.

The singer has shared before about her health struggles surrounding Medullary Kidney Disease, and the transplant is the culmination of ongoing difficulties over the past two years. In the video, Zahna shared that miraculously, her mother is a match for donating– and will be donating close to Mother’s Day, giving her daughter life all over again.

Zahna assured her fans also that she will be doing her absolute best to make all of her summer shows and commitments, but warned in advance that some June commitments might have to change. She also invited fans into praying with and for her on the transplant date and also in recovery. If you’re led to donate at all toward her medical costs, you can donate through PayPal to thesuzymartinez@gmail.com, Venmo to @suzymadsen, and Cash app to $suzymadsen.

To share your words of encouragement and prayers with Zahna, find her on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Switchfoot Announces Fall Tour With Double Sets

Switchfoot has announced a unique tour for this fall in a video posted to social media.

After thanking fans for the experience of the recently wrapped Native Tongue tour, Switchfoot shared how often they heard from fans that they wanted more– more time, more songs, more stories. So Switchfoot plans to deliver exactly that.

This fall, Switchfoot will embark on a tour without any opener, planning to play two full sets themselves. They’ll incorporate deep cuts and stories throughout the evening as well. The tour will be scheduled for limited cities, so you’ll want to keep a close eye on switchfoot.com/tour for dates.

The unique tour will cap off what has proved to be a milestone year for the band, who came out of hiatus with the album Native Tongue and corresponding tour and is presently preparing for a summer tour of Europe with Bon Jovi. To keep up with everything Switchfoot has on the schedule, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Skillet Premiers New Track, Announces Album Title

Skillet has premiered their new track “Legendary” on Billboard.com, announcing that their upcoming album will be titled Victorious. You can listen to the song by clicking here.

Billboard also shared some behind the scenes details of the upcoming album, which was largely produced by John and Korey Cooper– they coproduced 12 tracks, with 2 more produced in partnership with Full Circle Music’s Seth Mosley and X O’Connor. “We got to really dig in and try anything we wanted to try, and that comes through in some of the intricacies of the production,” John Cooper told Billboard.

Of course, the song– and the album– also have a message. “You’re going to have a lot of hard things in your life. Sometimes it will get you down, but you need to make your life count. You are only here for so long on earth, so every day fight to be legendary.”

Keep up with Skillet on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter as more details about the album drop.

Wretches & Kings Release First Song, ‘Papercut’

Wretches & Kings, the Linkin Park cover band formed by members of Righteous Vendetta and Alder Lights, has released their first recorded song. The song is “Papercut,” including a live video from their recent inaugural show in Billings, MT. You can hear it below.

“Thanks for all the love and shares for our cover of Papercut. We can’t wait to play shows with all of you, our fellow Linkin Park fans,” Wretches & Kings shared after releasing the cover. “Remember, your favorite venues can book us by contacting Greg Harper with Artery Global at greg.harper@arteryglobal.com. Dates are filling up fast!”

Wretches & Kings was inspired to take on Linkin Park’s iconic songs following the tragic death of Chester Bennington. To keep up with the band as they continue to pay homage to some of this generation’s defining songs, follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.

Veridia Releases Music Video for ‘I Won’t Stay Down’

Veridia has released a music video for their song “I Won’t Stay Down” from The Beast You Feed. You can watch it below.

“This song is the turning point of our album, the hard line between the Black & White, the moment to choose to stay in the darkness or step into hope,” Veridia shared about the song and the imagery in the music video. You can hear singer Deena Jakoub share more about the song in this video.

The “I Won’t Stay Down” video follows up the music video for “Perfume,” released in January. The videos continue Veridia’s momentum following the release of their long awaited full length album, The Beast You Feed.

To keep up with Veridia, you can follow them on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

Scott Stapp Releases Autobiographical Music Video for ‘Purpose for Pain’

Scott Stapp has released a new music video for the song “Purpose for Pain” that reveals in a new way how intensely personal the track is for the former Creed frontman.

The video tells a story of childhood abuse and darkness, leading to temptations towards addiction. You can watch the music video, directed by Daniel E Catullo III, below.

The song is the lead single from The Space Between the Shadows, due in July– Stapp’s long-awaited follow-up to 2013’s Proof of Life. He will also be embarking on a tour in support of the album, with tour dates available at scottstapp.com/events.

This song, like all of Scott Stapp’s impressive discography, is born of the reality that he is no stranger to struggles. As the video portrays, a trouble past and history with addiction and mental illness have often threatened his purpose. But his music still comes out swinging in affirmation of the truth:

There’s so much to lose
There’s so much at stake
Gotta turn this around
And find the purpose for pain.

Keep up with Scott Stapp as The Space Between the Shadows approaches by following him on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

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