An Evening with Jon

I apologize for the lack of posting lately. I've been off being the poem instead of out, in the next couple of days I will be making up for it. On Holy Saturday, I had a the chance to see Jon Foreman, perhaps best known as the frontsman for Switchfoot, live and playing some of his solo music.

I’ve been dreaming of an opportunity like this for some time. I’ve connected with Jon in a lot of areas: through the heartfelt rock of Switchfoot, the playful collaborative nature of Fiction Family and the soul-searching honest reality of his solo music. This concert, to which I was accompanied by my mother, also a fan, was the opportunity to hear a little of all of what makes up Jon Foreman.

I was not disappointed.

The show was in a giant coffee shop called the Service Station, so named, I assume, because it looks like it could have been a fire station or a lube shop in a former life. The inside looks like a recreation facility for a youth group, and that night it was crammed with college kids. It’s been a while since I was surrounded by college kids and this was an experience all by itself. As is my habit at concerts, I made friends with those standing around me as we waited for an hour for Jon to come out on stage. It’s always better to get to know the people around you in these situations. This is all that stands between you and being squished by the masses of people on other sides. There is indeed safety in numbers, and you don’t feel so strange standing closer to strangers than you ever willingly would (in the US).

When Jon entered the room, bringing with him a delightful character of a cello player (on his first visit to Washington State) we were all delighted. He started his set with “In My Arms” which brought me right back to my study abroad in London in my junior year in college. I remember right where I was when I heard the song for the first time: riding a bus in York, trying to distance myself from the people that I was with. I was so homesick and so done and I missed those I loved. “In My Arms” is a song about separation, about longing and about love. It is deeply beautiful, but you can hear the pain in his voice as he sings and in the lyrics throughout. I’ve been celebrating National Poetry Month, along with many others, this April (I know, you thought I was going to get through a whole post without mentioning poetry didn’t you) and part of my celebrating has included writing poetry. For a long while, I’ve been working on a collection of poems about London (and the rest of the UK over which we traipsed). It’s taken this long to have the perspective to write about that time. I’ve been remembering my nightly piece of baklava purchased from the local Spar on Queen’s Way, the time I got lost in the dark when I got off the Tube at the wrong place, the makeshift fridge my roommate and I made of the windowsill of our hotel, Indian buffets and Stonehenge surrounded by freezing cold winds. Jon’s song brought it all back, and I could feel it again.

Music has such power and Jon’s music brought it that night. Whether he made us laugh with a new Fiction Family song about a female thief that the protagonist of the song falls in love with or made me cry with a heartfelt rendition of “Learning How to Die” or “The Cure For Pain,” or made me feel the lift of euphoria with a cover of Bad Religion’s “Sorrow,” it was an experience that I will never forget.

The intimacy was palpable, at one point, he invited the front section of the concert to sit up on the stage with him and they did, gazing up at him and hanging on every note. We felt like friends by the end, he occasionally asking for questions during lulls (one girl invited him to a sunrise Easter service the next day, giving him detailed directions). He smiled often and easily and shared many laughs with us and with his band-mate, who played a mean cello. I didn’t want it to end, but when it did, I was satisfied.