Switchfoot at Big Air Denver, 01/25/11

Civic Center Park | 1.25.11

Last night, under the orange sky that blanketed the city, Switchfoot squeezed a quick set in at the Big Air event in Civic Center Park. No opener. No warm-up. Just four guys coming out from San Diego to entertain a frozen mass of skiers, snowboarders and industry big-wigs in town for the week's snow festivities. Nothing says gnarly like some good ol' contemporary butt-rock.

The Bud Light stage that sat in front of the City and County Building may have been the coolest thing to ever grace the edifice. A spectrum of lights flickered on key to the songs making the building look as if it were being watched on a 3D television. Seriously, it was kind of nauseating, but even more so, it was an entrancing illusion, almost like the cliche train wreck metaphor where you can't stop watching. Regardless, you couldn't help but stare because Switchfoot was playing directly in front of it.

Switchfoot opened the night with the hit song "Meant to Live," which is perhaps tucked away somewhere in your private collection from the late teen years of NOW! Thats what I Call Music series. Or not. "Meant to Live" sounded good, but it just didn't fit the moment. After commenting on how great it is to play under the stars (an obviously staged moment as Denver allowed almost ZERO visibility last night for that), the guys rolled into their next hit, ahem, "Stars."

A near perfect cover of the Beastie Boys "Sabotage" came next. Is it appropriate for a pop-rock band to cover the Beastie Boys? It sounded fine, hell it sounded actually spot on, but the question remains.

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Another cover of the night was ripped from Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. "Won't Back Down" was incredibly well received. Even so, it's just not Tom Petty, and that song has some key moments where Tom Petty's vocal draw is unmatchable. Just the same, they could've covered a much worse song, maybe something by Lit or Vanilla Ice.

"Dare You To Move" closed Switchfoot's 45 minute set, which, by then, was covered by a heavy flurry of snow and the finals for the Battle of the Brands was about to commence.

CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias: Not too sure who hired Switchfoot for this event. Probably someone who associated "Switch" and "Foot" with the ski and snowboard terms. Where's the reggae? Where's the bass (heavy and dirty, not plucked and slapped)? Overheard: "If I wanted to hear this music, I would've turned on 93.3 and stayed in."

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