My teenage devotion for these artists had remained intact, but the dream of seeing them each perform live seemed very unlikely in my late 20s. These bands that reached the height of their fame in the ’90s had never stopped playing and performing, but their output had slowed down considerably since their last big records. The opportunity to see them perform years after they owned my emotions seemed like the ultimate adolescent dream come true.
Buying concert tickets is stressful enough, and my mind began to race when given the choice between regular or VIP access. The clear choice from the start was VIP, but having to decide between Dashboard Confessional or Third Eye Blind gave me massive pangs of anxiety. Like a true fan I went with Dashboard because let’s be real — Chris Carrabba is best enjoyed up close and personal. I made the right choice — my opportunity had come in the form of a VIP lanyard that would grant me access to a seriously intimate experience that still has me reeling. It was hands down the best day I can ever remember (not sorry). This is how it feels to see Dashboard Confessional as a grown-ass adult.
It was hot and humid with the constant tease of rain for an outdoor show, but nothing was bringing the crowd down. Regardless of the mix of ages, I knew we had all screamed along to those songs about the breakups we experienced and survived. With tickets in hand and a lump in our throats, a small and excited crowd of 20- and 30-somethings slowly made their way to a lounge on site at Toronto’s Echo Beach. The small space opened up to one of the most intimate acoustic sets I’ve ever witnessed.
Chris Carrabba casually walked out to the small crowd and immediately began tuning his guitar as he made small talk with the fans. During the acoustic set we were graced with “Ghost of a Good Thing”, “For You to Notice”, and two old school tunes that I felt guilty for not knowing until Carrabba himself forgot the lyrics and had to look at a paper to remember the words. Before ending the private show, he invited the Toronto band The Treasures to sing a tune, then made sure to take photos with each fan before heading to his full set.
Carrabba’s second performance opened with “Screaming Infidelities”, allowing the sing-alongs to commence immediately. Classics like “Stolen”, “Vindicated”, “Places You Have Come to Fear the Most”, and “Remember to Breathe” also made the setlist, while “Hands Down” closed out the Dashboard show before Third Eye Blind took the stage (and yes — they were equally as amazing).
When I was 16, Dashboard Confessional’s lyrics spoke to me in a way no other band could. I know I am not alone in my earnest appreciation of his ability to capture the very deep and often depressing emotions felt through love and loss (or at least the teenage version of it). As an adult, these songs aren’t rooted in despair. Instead it’s warm nostalgia, and maybe a tiny bit of angst that still lingers inside. Seeing a band you adored as teen perform live in your 20s is worth its weight in VIP gold.