Better than: Not hearing "Several Ways to Die Trying," even though it's one of the greatest Dashboard songs, ever.
Nestled a block from Davie Boulevard in East Fort Lauderdale is the Bienes Center for the Arts
, St. Thomas Aquinas High School's auditorium. It was the perfect sized space for the one-night-only acoustic set by Dashboard Confessional frontman Chris Carrabba. The stately venue held 300 or so lucky ticket holders pumped to see the king of emo render the crowd emotionally exhausted during the hours long set that was just as nostalgic as it was rare.
As the auditorium slowly filled to max capacity for the sold out show -- which, we heard, had tickets going for upwards of $200 plus online -- local indie music man Ryan Alexander of Civilian
played a melancholy series of crowd pleasing, heart-wrenching, yet upbeat songs. He joked, "Yeah, I always play in C, it's a bad habit."
Civilian are a promising young act that have to potential to be loved by all fashionably nerdy, indie-rock music lovers. Alexander engaged the crowd like a pro, and we're pretty confident that this band's gonna bring the city some incredible things.
A fifteen minute intermission gave us time to charge and pillage the makeshift snack bar/cocktail station, sneak in a quick smoke, and lurk the merch table in the marble-floored lobby. The lights went dim, the crowd hushed, cell phone flashed, twinkled, and everyone teetered on the edge of their seats. Carrabba made his way to the stage for what would turn out to be a non-stop, movie-like high school auditorium singalong.
Throughout the set, a plaid clad Carrabba talked with the audience, accepted and returned shout-outs from the friends and hecklers scattered throughout the auditorium, and took more than one song request. In fact, while Chris strummed away and sang the deepest parts of his deep heart out, the audience sat lackadaisically and, while they did sing every word, the energy was a little weird. There isn't one thing to blame for the off vibes, it just would've been refreshing if the crowd had more Dashboard die-hards, rather than private school higher-ups, alumni, and those who are otherwise musically disconnected.
Carrabba moved through an extensive set list of oldies and classics before bringing out a three piece band, which he introduced as part his latest project, and played four or five instrument heavy, harmony laden tracks with the band who, Carraba said was, "nameless as of now. If I think of a name by the end of the set, I'll be sure to let you all know." The anonymous quartet had a remarkable chemistry, and their sound is rather country heavy, a nice departure from the expected Chris Carrabba repertoire.
The still unnamed group kept him company as Carrabba played "Vindicated," which forced the crowd out of their seats to surround the stage and scream along to the final three hits.
Personal Bias: The Bienes Center for the Performing Arts was the perfect venue for this event. It was small but not too small, and Carrabba took advantage and interacted more with the crowd than I've ever seen at a Dashboard/Further Seems Forever show. As a decade long Dashboard fan (oh, as if you don't know all the words to "Hands Down"), this was a bucket list moment that I'm exceptionally grateful to have experienced.
The Crowd: St. Thomas elite, old and new Dashboard fans, and a couple loud ass dorks who probably don't know Chris, but shouted out randomly and sang over him several times throughout the concert. "Hey buddy, who sings this song? Dashboard? Yeah, let's keep it that way." Side eye.
"The Good Fight"
"The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most"
"Sharp Hint of New Tears"
"Tall Green Grass"
"Carry This Picture"
"Again I Go Unnoticed"
"Swiss Army Romance"
"Remember to Breathe"