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Music Builds - A comparison of Three Shows

Though I often look for new distant places to see Switchfoot play live, the cost of fuel (and concert tickets) kept me closer to home this year for the Music Builds tour.  Wanting to add another state to my list, I choose the show near Cleveland, OH on a Thursday as part of a long weekend.  Skipping the Friday VA Beach show in order to be a tourist in Ohio, I almost drove straight to the Holmdel, NJ show from Ohio, with only a short pit-stop at my house.  Then, in an unplanned “you only live once” move, I drove down to the show in Northern, VA near Washington, DC on Sunday.  By the end of the weekend, I found myself contemplating many comparisons between each event.  

Blossom Music Center - Cuyahoga Falls, OH (September 11, 2008)

The first thing I learned about this show was that it was actually not in Cleveland as most tour lists stated.  In fact, it was about an hour south of Cleveland.  It was a bit of a disappointment because my tourist weekend timing did not allow the extra drive north into the city.  I have since found out that this scenario is common to other cities on the tour.

Seeing well in advance ticket sales for this tour stop were far from selling out, my friend and I decided to buy tickets on the day of the event.  Besides, the costly pre-purchase ticket fees were eliminated.  In order to save money, we had planned on lawn seats.  But the last minute, we decided to go for the seats just below the lawn on the right as you face the stage.

We arrived before Jars of Clay hit the stage and my observations commenced.  As the crowds slowly meandered in, I pondered if there were more Third Day fans or Switchfoot fans.  I did not see much ora[img_assist|nid=798|title=My zoomed-in view of Switchfoot|desc=|link=none|align=left|width=243|height=182]nge, the color of the Third Day Gomers, and it is hard to determine Switchfoot fans unless they donned a shirt bearing the band name.  The age range was varied ranging from toddlers (with earplugs) to folks in the retired age group.

When Jars hit the stage, the seats were less than half-filled and the lawn area was sparse.  By the time Robert Randolph and the Family Band belted out the funk, more seats were filled.  But looking around the arena, I still noted many empty seats and gaps in the lawn.  By the time Switchfoot’s set came around, the gaps had decreased and the entire place seemed less empty.  Yet I still had plenty of room to jump up and down without worry of bothering anyone.

Large speakers obscured my view toward the stage.  The two large screens helped me feel a bit closer.  Though the lighting was designed for a faraway view, I was looking forward to my 5th row seating for the New Jersey show two nights later.

The set change time between each band seemed long.  This continued for each of the three shows.  Perhaps this was to encourage folks to go buy some over-priced food and beverage.  I admit that having a seat has its benefits. I am used to standing for five hours or more for a Switchfoot concert with no food or bathroom breaks.  

During the set change before Switchfoot, my friend and I began to chat with the folks seated in front of us.  Knowing that my friend had no intention of coming as my guest to the Switchfoot meet and greet, I invited someone from my “new friends.”  The Friends of the Foot (FOTF) meet and greet is generally held about fifteen minutes after Switc[img_assist|nid=799|title=Switchfoot|desc=|link=none|align=right|width=251|height=189]hfoot leaves the stage.  This translates into missing some of Third Day.  But with the long set change, not much is lost.  

The FOTF line seemed quite short.  Security was tight, and any movement out of line was brought to your attention fast.  People were brought in as grouplets, and a chance to have a photo taken with Switchfoot was offered.  I barely said two words to the guys before we were whisked off.  This my friends, was a “greet and leave”.  I felt bad for my new friend, but she was happy for the picture.  We got out just in time for her to hear her favorite Third Day song.

Walking back to my seat, I observed what could have been the largest amount of people in the audience watching Third Day.  Perhaps that answers my question.

Read Day Two here.