Concert review: Dashboard Confessional at The Ottobar last night
Last night, when Dashboard Confessional front man Chris Carrabba played an all-acoustic show at The Ottobar, it was like he'd come full circle.
Dashboard started out as a solo project for Carrabba, and gradually grew into a full band. But last night, it was just Carrabba and Dashboard guitarist John Lefler on stage, offering up loose, acoustic versions of their emo hits.
"It's fun to do this once in a while," Carrabba said.
The show was sold out, to no one's surprise. Dashboard usually plays in much larger venues; in fact, they had booked a full-band tour this fall (their latest album, "Alter the Ending," came out Nov. 10). But when one of the band members suffered an undisclosed emergency, Carrabba postponed the full-band tour and booked a series of acoustic dates in small clubs such as The Ottobar.
How small is small for these guys? Well, their tour bus was longer than the club was wide ...
The show was dynamite, to no one's surprise. Whenever you get a couple hundred screaming, hormonal teenagers and emo icon Carrabba under one roof, the energy is explosive. It's a match made in Hot Topic heaven. Parents aside, I was probably one of the oldest people there, and I'm 26.
At times, Carrabba acted like a camp counselor, leading the kids through singalongs of whole verses of his songs. He would strike the opening chord of a song and the crowd would know exactly what he was about to play. It was uncanny.
Carrabba and Lefler both played acoustic guitar, and took turns at an upright piano. There were missed cues, botched solos and such, but if anything, they added to the show's spontaneity. Carrabba took a couple requests, and played a handful of covers.
Dashboard's heart-on-my-sleeve sound is a very specific kind of rock, with a lot of fans and even more haters. Love it or not, there's no denying: Carrabba does it well. At 34, he can still hit the high, whining notes on early songs such as "Screaming Infedelities."
Sweat poured off Carrabba, who smiled for photos in mid-song and stomped his worn black dress shoes on the stage to give the songs some oomph. He blew through a 19-song set in an hour and 12 minutes, and came back out for a short encore before calling it a night. And for his young audience, what a night it was.
Here is the set list:
The Brilliant Dance
The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
The Good Fight
I'll See You There
Where There's Gold
Belle of the Boulevard (cc on piano)
Ghost of a Good Thing
So Long Sweet Summer
Bend and Not Break
Saints and Sailors
Up My Sleeve*
The Swiss Army Romance
Get Me Right
*John Lefler song
**Ingrid Michaelson cover