For a lot of rock stars, headlining a show at Bayfront Park is just another gig at just another amphitheater — a very hot and humid amphitheater, but an amphitheater nonetheless. For Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba, though, it brings back fond memories.
"I mostly went to smaller venues, but I remember an older friend drove me down there to see Foo Fighters and Porno for Pyros," the Boca Raton High School graduate reminisces about the days when national acts rarely made the trek to South Florida. "We needed to create a scene because bands wouldn't come this far down in Florida. But good things came out of that. We learned to be thoroughly DIY, and it helped protect us from awful things that can happen in the music business."
With a day job as a special education aide at an elementary school, Carrabba found his first taste of success as a singer in Pompano Beach rock band Further Seems Forever. Soon Carrabba began writing his own songs, which bandmate Chad Neptune encouraged him to record on his own. "He liked the songs, but he thought they weren't right for Further, and he was right." Out of that recording session came the roots of Dashboard Confessional.
The band found more success than Carrabba could have ever hoped for. Dashboard's six albums of emo rock sold millions of records and peaked at number two on the Billboard charts. But even though he made it big, Carrabba has one lingering regret about leaving Further Seems Forever. "There's a piece of me that will always wish we all made it together."
These days, Carrabba enjoys sharing his knowledge gained from years in the industry. "I tell brand-new bands: Practice crazy amounts until your songs are seamless. Once you get them down, go outside your comfort zone and tour as much as you can," he says. "But pay attention to the money stuff — ask your promoters why the money gets split up the way it is. Learn to play; then learn to protect yourself."
On the upcoming Taste of Chaos tour, Dashboard Confessional will coheadline with Taking Back Sunday. "Our set list will run the gamut," Carrabba says. "We're going to play songs from all the albums." He promises fans will hear a new track too, a hint of what's to come as Dashboard Confessional works on its first new batch of songs since 2009's Alter the Ending. "We're deep in the recording now, but I want to get a little deeper before we announce when and how we release it."
Whatever the future holds, his connection to South Florida always hits Carrabba right in the heart. "There's something about Florida. I write more songs when I'm down there. South Florida gave me a career. I'm proud I started there. It's still home no matter how far away I travel."
Dashboard Confessional and Taking Back Sunday on the Taste of Chaos tour. 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 24, at Bayfront Park Amphitheater, 301 Biscayne Blvd., Miami; 305-358-7550; bayfrontparkmiami.com. Tickets cost $30 to $65 plus fees via livenation.com.