Dashboard Confessional @ The Metro Theatre, Sydney NSW Australia 16/09/2017 written by Brendan Lewis.
These guys need no introduction, but I’m gonna give them one anyway! Dashboard Confessional, one of alternative rocks most defining bands since the early 2000’s, grace Australian fans at long last for the first time in over five years! Lead singer/songwriter Chris Carrabba’s heartfelt songs contain emotional honesty and nostalgic memories, accompanied by music that differs from upbeat, jump-around to rock, to soft acoustic symphonies. So I wonder if I should sit back and get comfy, or get ready for some hard-core death circles? …ok, maybe not that extreme but you get the picture.
The show starts with Ben on drums building the excitement with a steady beat as fans await Chris’s arrival onto the stage. Judging by the massive cheer from the audience, I’m assuming that blurry outline walking out onto the stage is Chris, who engages the audience straight away with an orchestrated sing-a-long to the melodic hook of ‘Don’t Wait’. Starting with a melodic sing-along to an evidently crowd favourite, plus Chris and his fellow band members moving around the stage projecting their musical energy even to this emotional feel-good track, plus Armon on guitar accompanying Chris’s vocals with some harmonies, got the crowd poised and wrapped around the bands little finger nice and early.
Next up, the band head straight into normally acoustic early day track ‘The Sharp Hint Of New Tears’ which was instead played with the full band. The sound mixing was quite complimenting to Chris’s vocals, to lift them high, no tears for the sound mixing tonight! The lighting too was sufficiently complimenting to the music, it was basic lighting, but conducted well with differing patterns and colours not just solid single-toned or flashing.
After a quick chat/hello to the audience, the band head into nicely contrasting up-beat track ‘The Good Fight’ followed by up-lifting up-beat yet cruisey, ‘Saints And Sailors’ which I’m surprised didn’t get the crowd bopping away to it, as this song’s very easy to bop/dance to. That said 'Saints And Sailors’ got all the saints and sailors in the crowd… plus everyone else singing along to Chris nicely, not drowning out his vocals. With these two more up-beat songs, I am so tempted to unleash my inner metal-head with some head-banging and hard-core fist pumping, just because it would be hilariously out of place in this crowd, yet still acceptable to the music.
The band let the audience lick our wounds from the insane moshing in the previous two songs, and bring the tone down slightly with Chris starting the next song, ‘Several Ways To Die Trying’ on his acoustic guitar before the rest of the band join in. This song showed off Chris’s amazing soaring vocals with him hitting some incredibly powerful extended notes, and with the song building up in momentum to the climatic finish which the band all rocked out to, it provoked a massive cheer from the audience. Even to this song that is perfect to even just sway to, the crowd are dead still and remind me of my dog watching me make dinner, dead still, fixated, watching intently with an un-broken gaze.
Keeping up with the musical continuity, the band stroll straight into ‘As Lovers Go’ followed by 'Remember’. The first of which has some stand out drum techniques from Ben making the show not just about Chris. ‘Remember’ was started off with Chris on guitar with his beautiful, loud sustained notes that were echoing throughout the theatre, before the rest of the band joins in.
Chris brings the energy level up nicely by talking to the audience during the drum section towards the end of the song, with an eloquently put “f*** yeah!” for the crowd to then mimic, egging on the crowd as it is after all, a fully hard-core crowd of rough-nuts.
Chris then takes the time to introduce the band, before playing ‘Carry This Picture’. This song with its gentle swaying beat, Chris singing calmingly like a lullaby, plus simply lazy light conducting, did worsen my fatigue right when I needed a shot of energy in the show.
Luckily my yearning for a shot of musical caffeine was answered with a refreshing cover of ‘Just Like Heaven’ by The Cure. This cover was perfectly executed by the band, showing Chris’s vocal diversity and fit in neatly with the rest of the set, yet gave a nice pinch of contrasting flavour to the show, just to keep the audience engaged. This awesome cover had obviously woken up the lighting mixer, and were back on the ball for the next song…
As soon as the first note was played for ‘Stolen’, the girlies cheer, which I may or may not have added to, erupted from the audience at this classic love song. The sound in this song was perfectly accurate to the recording, and got the crowd (mainly girls) singing along with their hands on their chests with teary eyes… ok, maybe just me. Plus even got us all clapping along to the beat in the bridge before finally, the climatic finish which the crowd sung out.
Next Chris talks about the new record and how this next song is for anyone who’s ever felt like they don’t belong… or something like that, it’s hard to hear what he’s saying over fans cheering in response to the dedication. The song ‘We Fight’, was a little less powerful yet had a thumping drum beat that I again could’ve so unleashed my inner metal-head to, but I guess I’ll have to settle for a clap-a-long in the chorus from the crowd instead.
Dashboard Confessional did after all, start as just a solo project by Chris and the focus has always remained on his heart-felt lyrics, hauntingly beautiful voice and the connection he has with his fans, so for the next six songs the show is brought down to an acoustic set from Chris. This section demonstrated Chris’s ability to connect with his audience and have a laugh as if there is no time restrictions, no set procedure, and made the intimate venue feel even more so, as if he were talking to everyone individually. As great as this acoustic session is that featured a cover of one of his friends’ songs, that said friend played at a gig Chris went to, as well as an anthemic sing-a-long to the chorus of new track ‘Heart Beat Here’, and Chris showing off his amazing soaring vocals with crowd pleasing long-ass notes, this acoustic session does seem a little too drawn out in my opinion, and felt like an entirely new show.
The band finally return for the home stretch of the show with ‘The Best Deception’, ‘Again I go Unnoticed’, ‘Screaming Infidelities’ and finally, crowd favourite, self reflective declaration Vindicated’. ‘Screaming Infidelities’ is perfectly flowed from a nice big finish, straight into the explosive heart-wrenching final chorus of Coldplays’ ‘Fix You’ which rose the energy intensely and even sent euphoric tingles through me! All of these songs continued to display more showing off from Chris with his soaring vocals resonating throughout the venue, the whole band expressing their performance in their movements, and the crowd singing along like a supporting choir. The energy and all these great attributes are brought to a peak with ‘Vindicated’ capping the show off brilliantly with one last blow out of sheer musical energy.
Before you walk away people, there is an encore. The band are cheered back out for one last song ‘Hands Down’ which according to the set list, was actually planned as a foreseeable encore!
GASP! This song with a nice big dramatic finish ends the show on a pleasant note.
Clear sounding, amazing vocals, engaging, heart-felt energy, that was this show in a sentence! I did notice an absence of songs off the bands 2009 album though, which was disappointing, and the acoustic section could definitely be trimmed back personally, but at the end of the day, this is just me being picky and it was a great show!