Fiction Family’s Heavy and Light 2013 USA tour made its way to Atlanta on Feb. 16 for its second-to-last stop before closing out in Orlando. Center Stage originally slotted the show in The Loft, but due to such high demand and Fiction Family’s ever growing popularity, it was moved to their main theater. Front man Jon Foreman, of Switchfoot, and guitarist Sean Watkins, of Nickel Creek, certainly draw a significant portion of Fiction Family’s strong following, but they did not attract this crowd alone. An eclectic group of bands and performers tagged along, including Satellite, Now Now, Will Anderson of Parachute, Anthony Raneri of Bayside and the poetic Anis Mojgani.
The air buzzed with murmurs of anticipation and praise for the bands on the lineup.
Doors opened at 7:00 p.m. for the 8:00 p.m. show, but a wrap-around line developed by 6:45. The Center Stage Theater was full by 7:45, but it did not feel packed or hectic because the crowd was calm, and the venue was cozy. The air buzzed with murmurs of anticipation and praise for the bands on the lineup. As lights darkened and cued, music began to play and smiles crept up on everyone’s faces. Mojgani set the tone for the show with exquisite and heartwarming poetry, bringing the crowd together like one big family. This is what the Heavy and Light tour was all about. Family. The audience did not come to rage, and the concert was not meant to adttle brains. The night was about coming to grips with personal demons, knowing that no one is truly alone in the world and about spreading love and hope. This message seemed to be directed more towards the young teen and college aged student demographic of the audience, but the gathering was filled with all ages.
Satellite opened the show, followed by Now Now, then Will Anderson, Anthony Raneri and finally Fiction Family. Between each performer were very personal talks or poetry. Heavy talks juxtaposed with light music, making for a bit of an emotional roller coaster ride, but it flowed well. This was not some extreme ride like Six Flag’s Goliath; the journey was fluid and comfortable.
Some would say a three-hour concert is too along, but time passed quickly while everyone’s eyes and hears were glued to the performers. Now Now had the audience laughing as they teased each other on stage, and then had them awestruck and singing along as they played some of their most popular tunes. Anderson was the ladies man in the lineup, with girls in the room screaming his name and professing their love for him; he too had the audience singing along, getting people to rock out a bit with him. After yet another fun performance from Raneri, Foreman took the stage and the room practically exploded.
The cozy, calm crowd cheered and screamed, and the pent-up energy in the air was finally released. Foreman and Raneri started off with an acoustic performance, followed by a Switchfoot cover of “Dare You to Move.” Once the official Fiction Family members came on stage, they dropped songs from their newly released album Fiction Family Reunion and had the whole place moving. The standing audience on the floor was at its most active, but the seated audience had plenty of people standing, clapping, head-bobbing and cheering. An encore performance was inevitable; the entire lineup came on stage at once and ended the night with one incredible group finale.
Foreman and Watkins sincerely want to make this band and their message known and loved across the country.
Center Stage Theater made for an excellent venue for this show; the room’s acoustics were pitch perfect, the crowd was cozy and the stage was close. The sense of closeness did not give the typical sense of uneasiness; instead it was comforting and friendly. The Heavy and Light theme was ingeniously threaded through every message and song on stage. One speaker mentioned that he wanted everyone to leave the room with a sense of encouragement, another wanted us to leave less lonely and more comfortable with reaching out. I think it is safe to say they accomplished their goals. So many people left this show looking both enlightened and ecstatic, with a strange but wonderful glow of hope.
Fiction Family might be a spin-off project for Foreman and Watkins, but they sincerely want to make this band and their message known and loved across the country. This passionate group of musicians is definitely a band to keep an eye on, as their popularity is sure to continue to grow. Regardless of however big they end up becoming, they certainly know how to put on one marvelous show, and are a must see for any music lover.