I’ve been a Dashboard Confessional fan since I was 12, listening to their albums in my room as a moody teenager, door shut, scribbling their sad girl lyrics onto notebooks time and time again. But their musical prowess and talent proved they became more of a long lasting musical love affair for me, as I found myself listening to their songs at 13, at 18, and now in my late 20s. I’ve seen them in Chicago twice and was immensely impressed by Chris Carrabba’s sheer talent and that unmistakable voice.
This weekend, the band made their triumphant return to Chicago for Riot Fest, with an intimate aftershow at Reggie’s. I caught their Riot Fest set because, when you love a band why not see them twice? But sound issues plagued the festival, and I breathed a sigh of relief knowing I’d be in a different presence to see them mere hours later.
While at Riot Fest, the band played The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most in its entirety (along with myriad hits), the sold-out Reggie’s show felt like a gathering of people who had known Chris for a while. (Maybe from the vulnerable lyrics, we feel like we do.) He emerged on stage without his band and with a sampling of guitars. And, a Chicago Bears sweater (Go Bears!). The mostly-acoustic set featured callouts from the audience; he usually doesn’t plan out sets for these types of shows, he notes.
For an hour and a half, Carrabba weaved through both hits and deep cuts of the Dashboard Confessional discography, from “The Best Deceptions” to “The Swiss Army Romance” to “Ghost of a Good Thing” to “Carry This Picture,” plus their cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” The elated crowd sang along to every word, which seemed to delight and overwhelm Carrabba with joy at times; and how could it not?
Carrabba brought out a few special guests to sing a song or two (and give his vocal cords a break), including emerging indie artist pronoun as well as Stephen Egerton from Descendents. Ending with a crowd-fueled singalong of “Hands Down,” the night proved that the artists that do stay with you over time are the most special of them all.