Dashboard Confessional @ Kool Haus

Dashboard Confessional
Kool Haus
November 1, 2007
Being at a Dashboard Confessional concert is like being in the middle of a party amongst a bunch of old friends -- even for first timers like me. From the kids chilling in the back of the venue to those mashed up against the barricades in first row to the opening acts and Chris Carrabba himself the show seemed more like an informal jam session amongst friends than a concert by one of indie music’s brightest stars.

The show began as soon as doors opened with just that -- an informal jam session --featuring Carrabba hanging back on the drums, followed by a set by one of Carrabba’s long-time friends John Ralston. Apparently unable to keep off the stage Carrabba also joined Ralston on stage for a tune much to the delight of the growing crowd.

By the time Cali rockers Augustana hit the stage the crowd was already buzzing. Playing an impressive set of their laid-back, melodic rock the band must certainly keep the headliner on his toes each night. Only playing a couple of songs from their self-titled debut; “Wasteland” and their radio-friendly hit “Boston”, the band instead opted to play a slew of new tunes that were a sweet sneak peek into their upcoming record.

By the time the Dashboard Confessional frontman hit the stage the crowd was plenty warmed up and greeted him with a substantial amount of noise. Though it was billed a solo show the singer-songwriter was never lacking musical accompaniment. From the moment Carrabba’s hand touched his acoustic guitar for the opening bars of “Brilliant Dance” the crowd did not let up, belting out every word to every song he threw at them. At times he put down the mic and let the crowd move from immense backup vocals to a united lead. “Thanks for knowing this, the songs in advance,” he told the crowd, “it means a lot to me”.

Carrabba led the crowd through a varied set including tunes from all of his previous albums, not even hitting a tune from his most recent album The Shade of Poison Trees till more than halfway through his set. Tunes like “Don’t Fight” (which Carrabba wrote in Toronto), “Age 6 Racer” and “Screaming Infidelities” all made it into the set though it was difficult to tell which songs were crowd favourites since they seemed to love them all.

Aside from the crowd’s backing vocals he was also joined occasionally by fellow Dashboard Confessional member John Lefler who accompanied him on several tunes. The band members from Augustana and John Ralston made a short appearance for Carrabba’s cover of Weezer’s “El Scorcho”, that was on his recent covers album The Wire Tapes.

To complement his conversational lyrics the musician kept up a constant chatter, “I talk too much,” he said, “I just wanna be on with you longer.” He regaled the crowd with the tales that would become tunes and keeping a relaxed rapport, joked with the audience, “why do you keep telling them the songs before I sing them?” he said singling out a member of the crowd “Do you know how hard it is for a guy like me to look cool?” The theme of his uncool-ness, as it does in his emo, often angst ridden tunes, seemed to come up quite often. Mentioning his love for comic books and science fiction he occasionally made jabs at his unpopularity with the ladies almost oblivious to the fact that hundreds of them were screaming at him at that very moment.

Carrabba’s simple melodies and colloquial lyrics probably couldn’t account all the screams and attention that evening -- his charm and boy-next-door good looks probably also had something to it. But much has to be said for an artist that can drum up that much excitement and loyalty in a sold out crowd and Carrabba certainly knows how to put on a splendidly intimate live show.

Writer: Michelle Garcia

Photo:Michelle Garcia

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