Switchfoot empowers youth with performance at airport


Amidst the sounds of overhead announcements and the general hustle and bustle of an airport, live music filled terminal two at San Diego International Airport on the morning of June 19 when Switchfoot performed a brief concert with children from the area.

The Grammy Award-winning musical group, which hails from Encinitas, played three songs with local youth to celebrate the band’s nearby art installation at Gate 36 and to preview its upcoming Bro-Am music and surf event on June 24 at Moonlight Beach.

The gallery will be on display for airport travelers past security checkpoints through September. It includes photos, instruments used on the band’s albums and customized surfboards, commemorating Bro-Am, which is entering its 13th year.

Lifehouse, Donavon Frankenreiter, G. Love and Cisco Adler are also slated to perform at the June 24 event. There will also be various surf competitions, including the More “BRO” than Pro Team Surf Contest, the Rob Machado Bro Junior Surf Contest, the Challenged Athletes Foundation Kids’ Surf Contest, and the comedic Surf Joust Expression Session.

Jon Foreman, lead vocalist and guitarist for Switchfoot, considers Bro-Am a “group hug” with Encinitas.

“We were just over in Europe last week, and there’s something really special about being able to travel the world and know that your hometown still plays a huge part in who you are,” he said.

Players from the San Diego Youth Symphony and Conservatory, as well as fourth through sixth grade singers from Casillas Elementary in Chula Vista, joined Switchfoot on stage for two songs during the special airport performance.

Foreman, after finishing the band’s signature song “Dare You to Move,” said supporting the children is at the band’s core. Each year, Switchfoot’s Bro-Am Foundation raises money and awareness for underprivileged and at-risk youth.

“I think part of me likes kids more than I like adults,” he said, smiling. “I feel like kids are honest and real, and music is the same way where it has this honesty. For me, I think back to when I was a kid and music became this vehicle that I could use to go places. I want that same empowerment for the next generation.”

The band teamed up with Casillas — which was recently recognized as a VH1 Save the Music school and received $35,000 in band equipment — earlier this school year when they heard the choir was learning the band’s song “Float.” Switchfoot, after surprising the students in class, then invited the children to perform with them at the airport and at Bro-Am.

Lilly, a 10-year-old Casillas student, said she was excited to sing with Switchfoot and just be able to participate in the arts in general.

“Sometimes people with cell phones and other electronics can just forget the things that entertained us before that stuff,” said the girl who is entering the fifth grade. “We’re helping to spread the influence of art all around the world.”

Briandi, another 10-year-old who is entering the fifth grade, agreed, adding music is important because “it helps your brain develop and is relaxing.”

Casillas Music Teacher Jonathan Seligman said he is grateful to Switchfoot for performing with his kids and for being humble in the process.

Seligman considers the performing arts for kids as vital.

“It’s a way for them to express themselves,” he said. “Our school is very well known for its sports, but there are still those students who are not able to express themselves because they’re not athletically inclined. When music first came to Casillas, you just saw a lot of people who were in the shadows of these athletes. For a group like Switchfoot validating this and telling us we’re doing a great job, that’s huge.”