Grammy-Award winning band brings its musical energy to America’s Living Symbol of Freedom

The pandemic brought much of America to a screeching halt. Schools, restaurants, fitness centers and thousands of other businesses were forced to close. Live sports, entertainment shows and concerts across the country were all cancelled.

One local band, however, was not going to let COVID keep it from staying connected to its fans and the community. San Diego’s own Switchfoot decided to get a little creative.

The Grammy Award-winning band went online to keep the music coming.

“With traditional live music put on pause in 2020, Switchfoot immediately got to work on creating a series of livestream concerts to stay in touch with our fans as well as bring a little extra joy to those who needed it,” said Jess Ohlsen, Switchfoot’s project manager. “Our concert locations ranged from Petco Park, to a hot air balloon with visual experiences that were unmatched.”

The band was looking for a location to perform a Memorial Day weekend livestream concert that would pay tribute to those of have and are currently serving in the U.S. military. They thought the flight deck of Midway would be perfect.

“Performing on the Midway Museum was a landmark experience for us,” said Drew Shirley, the band’s guitarist since 2005. “It felt amazing to be on such a huge deck surrounded by aircraft. It was a surreal feeling to know that we were playing music on a vessel that people have fought in wars on. Midway also stands as a floating memorial to honor the service men and women who gave their lives for the freedoms we have today.”

For Drew, honoring those who wear the uniform of our nation is very personal with several members of his family having served in the past.

“My father and grandfather served in the Navy and the Air Force, and my mother performed on military bases around the world, entertaining troops in an all-girls singing group,” said Drew, who was born on a Navy base in Key West, Fla. and lived most of his young life on military bases around the country. “I’ve always felt a strong connection to the military. This livestream was my way of paying respect and tribute to my father, a veteran who served for over 20 years.”

Response to the nearly 90-minute concert was overwhelmingly. The livestream was viewed by thousands of Switchfoot fans all across the globe over the Memorial Day weekend. It was also shown to military personnel stationed at different military bases all around the world. 

“Our fans loved the show on the Midway,” said Drew. “It’s something we will never forget. It was such a unique and memorable way to express the appreciation we have for the servicemen and women on Memorial Day. Honor is important because it highlights the importance of the sacrifice made by our active duty and veterans.”

With an increasing numbers of Americans receiving the COVID vaccination and the nationwide reduction in pandemic-related restrictions, Switchfoot is once again resuming its live, in-person concert series. The performance on the Midway, however, is something they and their fans will never forget.

“With all of the school suspensions, business shutdowns, medical crises and vaccine emphasis, I can imagine many people have experienced great hardships,” said Drew. “I hope that our Memorial Day livestream concert from Midway brought some relief through our music and that it encourages strong family unity and hopeful dialogue on important issues.”

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