Bro-Am Breakdown

The Switchfoot Bro-Am welcomes Needtobreathe, Drew Holcomb and Colony House to its stage

Every summer, North County gets a little love from the Switchfoot Bro-Am. On Saturday, July 11, the surf contest and free music event fills Moonlight Beach in Encinitas with thousands of feet pacing the sand in search of good vibes, good times, pro surfers and, of course, rock stars both already made and on the rise.

Now in its 11th year, the Bro-Am carries on its tradition of charity -- it’s raised more than $1 million for San Diego-based children’s charities since its inception -- this year benefitting the Bro-Am Foundation. And since pro-surfer Rob Machado joined in a few years back with his Bro Junior -- a surf competition for the wee groms -- the Bro-Am has gotten greener, forgoing single-use plastics in favor of a water station and encouraging people to walk, bike or skate to beach instead of driving. The music is greener too -- the bands play on a solar-powered stage. And what bands might those be? Stoked you asked.

Here’s who will be tickling your ears with sound waves at Moonlight Beach this year:

Duh. It’s their event, and they love it, and they love to play it. Frontman Jon Foreman claims he isn’t going to let us in on any of that solo stuff he’s been working on -- you know, those concept EPs we reported on back in May -- but, Jon, if you’re reading, it would be pretty okay if you decided to anyway. Aside from that, these Grammy winners will do what they know: Put on fun a show.

These dudes are drowning in a sea of Christian rock, using folk as their life preserve. (Get it? ’Cause they need to breathe?) ANYWAY. Bad jokes aside, the South Carolina boys of Needtobreathe put out rolling rock songs with deep-pitted choruses and Southern guitar riffs to the tune of salvation. But like Switchfoot, they’re accessible enough to have broken out of the Christian rock genre and into the mainstream, especially as they cross more into the increasingly popular folk territory. Songs like “Feet, Don’t Fail Me Now” combine those elements that make for certain radio hits: quick-paced, catchy beats that you kinda just can’t help but clap/stomp/dance along with.

Drew Holcomb
Drew Holcomb and his band, the Neighbors, have been breaching genre lines for a decade now, and it’s to a greater and greater effect with every album they release. Holcomb is riding in off of “Medicine,” the band's January release, which stays true to rawer indie forms rather than opting for layered electronics that many folk, pop and country artists today are incorporating. He’s got some sway with that swagger, that one.

Colony House
These Tennessee lads came through Soda Bar about a year ago with Streets of Laredo -- and they are GOOD. Really good. But don’t go off of their recorded stuff -- it lacks some of the oomph that their live performances deliver so well. They’ve got this big sound though, and it’s fun, easy to listen to and even easier to enjoy. Plus, Colony House is on this hot streak right now too, having just performed on “Conan.”

The Switchfoot Bro-Am goes down on Saturday, July 11, at Moonlight Beach in Encinitas. The surf contest starts at 7 a.m., and live music begins at noon. This is a free, all-ages event. Make Rob Machado and the environment happy and take the Coaster, ride your bike, skate or walk down to the beach. For more information or to stream the event live, visit

Hannah Lott-Schwartz, a San Diego native, moved back to the area after working the magazine-publishing scene in Boston. Now she’s straight trolling SD for all the music she missed while away. Want to help? Hit her up with just about anything at all over on Twitter, where -- though not always work-appropriate -- she means well.

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