A Night with Semler and Relient K

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I’ve very much enjoyed getting back into the swing of live music. Freshly boosted and ready for a taste of the good old days, Jeremiah and I dropped by Paradise Rock Club in Boston to see Relient K. It is a fact universally acknowledged that Jeremiah’s favorite band is Relient K, and I get tickets every time they come around because one day, I know they won’t come around anymore. And I feel as though that day is closer than we all may realize, so I don’t want him to miss a chance to see them.

This is Relient K’s first tour since 2017, when they toured with Switchfoot as every 90s youth kid’s dream lineup. A killer show, one I will always viscerally remember. At that point, I don’t think I was writing for the site, or else you definitely would’ve heard me gush about it. But before that, I saw Relient K for the first time in the same room I saw them in just last week, for the Mmhmm 10th Anniversary Tour in 2014. Jeremiah and I weren’t together yet, so I lured a friend who could drive to take me under the guise of “You’ll get to relive your youth group days.” It all feels very full-circle.

Opening that first night was From Indian Lakes, one of my all time favorites. Opening this past show was Semler, a queer Christian artist. I won’t lie, one of the reasons I got tickets to this Relient K show was to see Semler, who I have followed on social media for a little while now. Something about a person who goes against every religious norm we were raised with, who can still sing truthfully, drew me in. When Relient K announced that Semler would be the opener, the comments on their socials were honestly awful, and I wasn’t sure how it would play out. But the night of the show, there were just as many Semler fans as Relient K fans. I bought a t-shirt, obviously.

Generally the opener is supposed to get you pumped for the main event, but by the time her set was over, there wasn’t a dry eye in the crowd. You could feel the church hurt palpably. It was like a therapy session. I fell in love.

Relient K came on not much later, opening with “Who I Am Hates Who I’ve Been”. They played an energetic, career-spanning set. Obviously, we couldn’t get enough. One of the things that made the show even more fun than it could have already been (if that was possible) was the audience. It really was just a bunch of us having a great time vibing and remembering how it used to be. We met up with a couple of friends and just generally danced all night. The band has as much energy as ever, and Matt Thiessen somehow hasn’t aged a day.

Noticeably (or not noticeably) missing were any tracks from Collapsible Lung, but there was a great rep from Forget and Not Slow Down, one of my top Relient K albums. They obviously played all the popular tracks and saved “Be My Escape” for last. When I first saw them, I captioned my instagram post, “It’s funny how you find you enjoy your life / When you’re happy to be alive” and it still rings true. I don’t know if I’ll have another chance to see Relient K before they finally hang it up for good, but what I do know is that they made me who I am today, and it’s always a joy to be in a room where we all have that in common.

by Nadia Alves

kiel_hauckNadia Alves has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.

Farewell (For Now) to Switchfoot

In all of the crazy music news from the latter part of 2017, I feel the most bittersweet as we bid farewell (for now) to Switchfoot. Unlike other bands whose departure from the scene has been negative, Switchfoot states the need for being present in their home lives as their reason for stepping back. Finally, something admirable!

Throughout their 20 years as a band, Switchfoot have impacted both the scene and countless lives with their contribution of 10 full-length albums, three EPs and Fading West, their tour documentary. They are also a contributor to many charitable organizations, including To Write Love On Her Arms.

I have had the privilege of seeing Switchfoot live twice. I saw their Fading West tour and their latest Looking for America tour. Both of those rank on my list of best shows I’ve been to. The Looking for America tour also featured Relient K, and, quite frankly, as a kid who grew up listening to both bands, was a dream lineup. I wonder now, given this news of a hiatus, whether that was intentional – a last hurrah and nod to the golden age of Christian pop rock.

Hello Hurricane was the album that, for some reason, really drew me in. I always turn to that album as a familiar and constant musical friend. I don’t even have a favorite track; the entire album is like one long song and it feels like home. My boyfriend has been listening to Switchfoot for almost his entire life and I feel like that’s one of the things that really made us connect. He had the opportunity to see them for the first time from side stage when he was playing with a friend’s band in 2016, and he told me about what a special experience that was.

Switchfoot had the ability as a crossover band to really bring both sides of rock fandom together – those who just enjoyed their sound and Christian kids who craved something new and refreshing but didn’t know where to find it. Their songs about enjoying life and trying to find the meaning in all of it connect with people everywhere. Even if you don’t know Switchfoot, you know of Switchfoot. The broad range of people they’ve impacted is really incredible, and they used their influence to better the music scene they were in and the people around them.

I don’t know whether Switchfoot will ever come back to create new music, but I hope they realize what they and their art mean to all of us. Their musical talent and authentic lyrics are a gift. To Jon, Tim, Drew, Jerome, and Chad: Thank you.

by Nadia Paiva

kiel_hauckNadia Paiva has been a music enthusiast since she can remember. Going to shows is her main pastime. The other is being upset when she can’t go to shows. This is her first official venture into writing about music. You can follow her on Twitter.