Review: Promising Parables Found in Switchfoot's "Fading West"

Switchfoot began its journey in 1996, when brothers Jon and Tim Foreman decided to start a band with a few of their closest friends. Since then, the group has gone on to produce eight original albums, win a Grammy award, and become one of the most recognized names in alternative and Christian rock. With the advent of their ninth studio release, Switchfoot began to chronicle their globe-hopping travels in a new documentary called Fading West (the same title of their latest album). The point of the film was to give audiences a behind-the-scenes look at the band's adventures, but in a lot of ways Fading West proves to be something more. Highlighted by songs from the new album, this documentary serves as a touching lesson on the natures of faith, family, and life in the midst of change.

For a person in the audience, there must seem no greater place to be than in the spotlight of center stage. Fading West quickly dispels the idea that a life of touring is all fun, fans, and rock & roll. In reality, the band's days typically begin at 3 a.m. after stepping off of a red-eye flight from their previous concert. Once on the ground, it's straight to the venue for set up, a guest appearance on a local radio station, more interviews with the press, sound check, rehearsal, the concert, VIP meet-and-greets, then off to the airport to catch another red eye flight. It's a high-octane lifestyle with a lot of work and very little time to rest.

This theme of time and how it passes is a huge part of Fading West. The members of Switchfoot spend many scenes reminiscing about how life on tour used to be easier. Back then, it was just them traveling around in a beat up old van; now, they are all husbands and fathers, and a tour means being absent from the people they love. One member recalls how he was on stage half a world away when his wife miscarried, and at one point Jon Foreman departs the tour upon learning his daughter is having surgery. It is a deep and sobering glimpse into how much things change as we grow older.

Another surprising focus of the documentary is surfing. It turns out Switchfoot is almost as passionate about catching waves as they are about creating music, and the entire film is juxtaposed with clips of the band members riding waves at the beaches they visit. These scenes are by no means bad, in fact they are quite extraordinary. The beautiful ocean scenery and the camaraderie among the guys is pretty infectious. However, anyone without a working knowledge of surfing or surf culture may feel left out whenever the men step into the water.

The rest of the film is fairly laid back. Like all good road trips, the focus is on the journey rather than the destination, and Fading West takes its time with each new experience. The end result is a deeply personal yet profoundly simple take on what it means to grow up, and how the beauty of life must be enjoyed in the moment before it is missed. From Australia to Bali, Switchfoot invites fans to share in the triumph of their adventure, and perhaps walk away with new songs of their own.


  • Drugs/Alcohol: Audience members smoke, several people enjoy beers
  • Language: A handful of swears are bleeped out
  • Sex/Nudity: Men are shown in bathing suits, a heavy metal band is shown making provocative movements, some women dress in revealing clothing
  • Violence: None
  • Religion/Morals: Switchfoot's members are outspoken Christians, they reference God occasionally, prayer is shown, a discussion on faith and doubt

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