Concert Review: The Pink Party with Switchfoot

Switchfoot took a side trip on their current tour schedule and delivered an inspired performance in front of about 500 people who attended the second annual Pink Party in Portland, OR on Friday at the Left Bank Annex in support of Breast Friends, a non-profit cancer support organization.

Jon Foreman in crowd
Jon Foreman surrounded by fans

The band’s last visit to Portland came in April on Easter Sunday to a sold-out Crystal Ballroom for the first leg of their Fading West tour. That show featured a stepped-up stage production and fans received perhaps the band’s most dominant concert of their career. Friday’s fund-raising show for breast cancer, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, scaled back the theatrics but the playing was characteristically Switchfoot.

Fans looking for a full-set were probably disappointed as the band only played eight songs which took just under an hour. The evening showcased a silent auction, a hula-hoop act and started with Portland’s The Hit Machine, a talented cover band that plays hits from Michael Jackson and Prince to Aerosmith and Journey.

Switchfoot opened their set with “Dare You to Move” probably the only song main event sponsor 105.1 The Buzz actually plays from the band on air. Singer Jon Foreman told the crowd his grandmother battled cancer before the band rolled into “Love Alone is Worth the Fight” the first tract off their Fading West album. Then most appropriately, Switchfoot played “I Won’t Back Down” a classic by Tom Petty who is also one of Foreman’s favorite singers.

Andrew Shirley
Switchfoot guitarist Drew Shirley

Foreman grabbed a guitar and harmonica for an emotional yet slightly bluesy take on “You’re Love Is a Song” which guitarist Andrew Shirley blistered out a solo for and then the band got everybody jumping with the rocking “Let It Out.” A small abbreviated show doesn’t keep Foreman from getting into the crown either, as he hopped off the stage, and quickly got smothered with anything pink the crowd could wrap around him. “When We Come Alive” was next and the Switchfoot songs ended with perhaps the evening’s theme “Meant to Love,” done really well acoustically. Foreman invited The Hit Machine, sponsors and breast cancer survivors on stage to sing the closer “Lean on Me.”

Considering Switchfoot flew in the night before after a concert in New York, they played sharp and Foreman’s vocals held up nicely. Tom Foreman cranked out some serious bass lines and drummer Chad Butler pounded away. Grabbing a headlining act like Switchfoot helps get the ball rolling for future fund-raisers though tickets, at just $25 (and no fees!), were still available Friday morning probably because only one radio station could advertise the event. At any rate, many hardcore fans of Switchfoot, like those who show up after Easter dinner, missed out seeing the band in a small venue at an affordable price.

Jon Foreman rocks a harmonica
Jon Foreman rocks a harmonica

The evening was not without some stagnation but organizers did well in keeping the crowd busy between sets. The Hit Machine started at 7 p.m. which if you’ve never had the chance to see is worth your time. They’ve opened for acts like REO Speedwagon at the Sleep Country Amphitheater in Ridgefield, WA and played small-town fairs like the Tualatin Crawfish Festival. The Hit Machine played for an hour and Switchfoot didn’t get on stage until 9 p.m.

Breast Friends was founded by two breast cancer survivors and is dedicated to improving the quality of life for female cancer patients. They help friends and family of those fighting cancer understand how to help and what the patient is enduring. Click here to donate.

The Switchfoot Setlist at Portland’s Pink Party:

1. Dare You to Move
2. Love Aline Is Worth the Fight
3. I Won’t Back Down (Tom Petty cover)

4. Your Love is a Song
5. Let It Out
6. We Come Alive
7. Meant to Live
8. Lean on Me (Bill Withers cover)