Monday, November 20, 2006

Dashboard Confessional w/ Brand New - Cole Field House @ UMCP 11/18/06

Dashboard Confessional

2.5 out of 5 stars.

Kristen, myself, and dear-friend-whose-permission--to-identify-I-have-not-yet-obtained (can I?) went to see Dashboard Confessional with Brand New on Saturday night at University of Maryland.

Brand New started off with a fizzle, with vocals bordering on apathetic, nu-metal poseur quality, and stage antics that were just that: staged antics. The lead guitarist's jerky, seizure-mimicing behavior was strained, and the singer's howling fits while rolling on the floor were contrived. By the third song, the band was coming into its groove, even though the constant replacing of the actual song names Star Wars-themed song titles didn't really make them much cooler. Performing live, Brand New will surprise those familiar with their studio albums by their seemingly extemporaneous takes on the songs, sounding almost prog rather than punk on stage.

As for Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba makes a much better solo (or backed with a two-piece band) guitarist than a rock and roll frontperson. Fans of the albums Swiss Army Romance and The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most shudder at the wireless mic, prancing Carrabba who has apparently lost his previous stage fright, longing for the days when he strapped on a guitar and screamed about errant hairs all over the living quarters. Not to mention the violinist who's become a member, and has earned a inappropriate moniker from my hating trio of attendees.

Just the same, a Dashboard show is a huge sing-along for the fans, and while a fun part of the show, it can be somewhat annoying that Carrabba will fall silent while the crowd who actually paid for tickets does all the singing. With a PA as big as the ones his shows command now, we can all sing loudly and still only hear Chris, so why isn't he singing? When you're quiet, Chris, you give the angry boyfriends who got dragged to the show time to heckle you. At one point, Carrabba reproached one of these kids for mocking attendees who were enjoying themselves. Those of us who are doing the singing for you appreciate that. Now do your job.

The biggest letdown of recent tours is that the sets last an hour at best. On this particular night, the set, including encore, fell somewhere around 58 minutes. That, plus the failure to pull out old material from Swiss Army ("Turpentine Chaser"? "The Sharp Hint of New Tears?") and Kristen's fave "This Is A Forgery", while consistently encoreing with "Vindicated" is slowly turning Dashboard Confessional into a Vegas sideshow: all the standards and crowd-pleasers, some lights, fog, and a pretty-boy singer make for a cheap date.

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