On a humid summer day in Jackson, New Jersey, Dashboard Confessional performed at Six Flags Great Adventure’s Northern Star Arena. Free to anyone who purchased a park ticket, the enormous outdoor arena was nearly empty due to torrential rain that almost cancelled the performance just hours earlier. For those that stuck out the weather, though, the Chris Carrabba-fronted four-piece sounded great from their opening minutes, beginning with the swooning “Don’t Wait”. The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most contributed full-band takes on “The Good Fight” and “Saints and Sailors” before Carrabba tackled the album’s title track with John Lefler using just acoustic guitars.
A few more songs came from that 2001 full-length, including a rousing performance of “Screaming Infidelities” and “Again I Got Unnoticed” back-to-back. Despite a third of the band’s set coming from The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, the band did manage to sneak in a few new cuts, showing off their more mature songwriting, including “Belle of the Boulevard” with Carrabba on piano. “Everybody Learns from Disaster” was dedicated to an unnamed girl on Friday Night Lights that Carrabba once dated.
Midway through the set, Carrabba emerged alone with just his acoustic guitar, asking the crowd what songs they wanted to hear. In a mind-numbing moment, most of the crowd implausibly screamed for “Hands Down”, to which Carrabba remarked “you’ll get that one last”. The singer-songwriter settled on the title track from his debut (“The Swiss Army Romance”), allowing the crowd to provide vocals for parts of the song. The band once again rejoined Carrabba afterwards, kicking into a well-executed cover of Weezer’s “El Scorcho”.
Lead by drummer Mike Marsh’s thunderous percussion, Dashboard Confessional’s performance of “As Lovers Go” dwarfed the meager studio original. “Vindicated” drew an enormous response from the crowd, the band responding with a flawless performance of one of their most popular songs. The quartet performed the more upbeat version of “Stolen” before wrapping up — as they always do — with “Hands Down”. The audience sang along to the repetition in the the song’s final moments as Dashboard Confessional left the stage: “And I knew that you meant it.”
The Good Fight
Saints and Sailors
The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most
Carry This Picture For Luck
Again I Go Unnoticed
Everybody Learns From Disaster
The Swiss Army Romance
El Scorcho (Weezer cover)
As Lovers Go
Belle of the Boulevard
Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams cover)
Even with rollercoasters bustling not too far away, Dashboard Confessional sounded fantastic for more than sixty minutes, a testament not only to the band’s respectable live show but also the venue’s design. Shifting back and forth between acoustic performances and full-band jams, Dashboard Confessional’s sound never suffered; Northern Star Arena might be one of the best sounding outdoor venues in the area. It’s hard to expect more than a “greatest hits”-styled setlist at a free event inside an amusement park, but with two covers tossed into the sixteen-song performance things stayed fresh throughout the night. The quartet remains a solid example of a well-executed, extremely enjoyable live band.