House of Blues
February 12, 2017
It's hard to believe Dashboard Confessional's Chris Carrabba is 41 years old. His emotive lyrics exhibit a persistently youthful charm, and his hairline is as strong as a teenager's. Were his tattoos not so faded, he could easily pass for a twentysomething.
But despite Carrabba’s looks, his band's debut album, The Swiss Army Romance, turns 17 this year. These days, his music serves as a fountain of youth for its fans — a throng of former adolescents who have grown up, begun careers, started families and saved enough money to purchase VIP tickets to Dashboard Confessional concerts, since they are so few and far between these days.
Nearly eight years since their last studio release, Dashboard Confessional returned to a sold-out House of Blues Houston Sunday night to regale longtime fans with stories of teen angst, unrequited love and hanging on to hope. All these years later, their songs continue to resonate.
Sunday night's performance was chock-full of fan favorites — “Stolen,” “The Best Deceptions” and “Screaming Infidelities,” to name a few — and the crowd was thrilled. The entire venue seemed to sing along in unison for the entirety of the show, only stopping when Carrabba took a break from singing to address fans.
"We have a new record that's almost done, coming out later this year," he told the crowd. "It took a little while for me to realize how much I like our older stuff better, and it's hard to discern where the path veered, but we're glad to be back on it. We just recorded 40 songs with nobody watching, and it was really great."
Carrabba then took five minutes to address the crowd with a political slant. He mistakenly referred to Houston as a conservative area – even though our city has consistently elected Democratic candidates for mayor since the early ’80s – but went on to give a heartfelt speech requesting civility from Trump supporters and detractors alike amid the quagmire that is politics in 2017.
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He followed his speech with one of the band's unreleased new tracks, "We Fight." Carrabba told the crowd he felt the song — originally written as an anthem for the Florida music scene in which the band sharpened its teeth — had taken on a new meaning over the past three and a half weeks.
Perhaps in an attempt to re-center the audience, the ageless front man then launched into a cover of Slaid Cleaves's "I Love Texas," which name-drops both the city of Bellaire and the Mucky Duck, among other Texas landmarks.
Seven songs into the set, Carrabba picked up his acoustic guitar as the rest of the band exited the stage. A hush fell over the crowd, which began chanting along with him again and again as he laid his feelings bare with “Shirts and Gloves,” “Ghost of a Good Thing” and the band's latest single, “Heart Beat Here.” Four songs later, his bandmates re-emerged to close out the evening with another half-dozen songs.
If “We Fight” and “Heart Beat Here” are any indication, seasoned Dashboard Confessional fans will be quite pleased with the band’s upcoming album. Both tracks saw Carrabba exposing himself with the same kind of sincerity and heart that he has built a career on. And judging by his enthusiasm Sunday night – and that of the crowd – he has plenty of years of touring left in him.