A potent duo of songwriters arrived in Mahwah, New Jersey, at Ramapo College’s Brady Center Arena on April 9: Anthony Raneri, frontman of Bayside, and Chris Carrabba’s Dashboard Confessional. Though the venue — a gym with basketball nets hanging on opposite ends — was certainly not built for a rock show, Ramapo staff did a great job of setting it up properly and working out the inevitable sound issues in a very timely manner.
Anthony Raneri began the night with “Good Fucking Bye”, a song written by Alkaline Trio guitarist Matt Skiba. The extremely personal “Don’t Call Me Peanut”, from Bayside’s 2005 self-titled album, followed, with a surprising number of fans singing along in the crowd. Raneri then worked out a solid acoustic rendition of Bad Religion’s “Sorrow” before playing a cut from Bayside’s latest album, the excellent “The Ghost of St. Valentine”. “The Ballad of Bill the Saint” — an original penned by Raneri for an upcoming solo album — sounded great and was received warmly by the crowd.
As trippy lights danced on the wall behind the stage, Raneri acknowledged that the student-run stage lighting was more suited for a rock show and not for just one man and a guitar. Still, Raneri sounded great on”I and I” and “Duality” but it wasn’t until he covered Death Cab for Cutie’s hit “I’ll Follow You Into the Dark” that the crowd finally gave due applause. “Meghan”, a Smoking Popes original from 1997’s Destination Failiure — often covered by Bayside — closed the solid forty-five minute outing.
Good Fucking Bye (Matt Skiba cover)
Don’t Call Me Peanut (Bayside cover)
Sorow (Bad Religion cover)
The Ghost of St. Valentine (Bayside cover)
The Ballad of Bill the Saint
I and I (Bayside cover)
Duality (Bayside cover)
I’ll Follow You Into the Dark (Death Cab for Cutie cover)
Meghan (Smoking Popes cover)
Dashboard Confessional kicked things off with the soaring “Don’t Wait”, the first song from 2006’s Dusk and Summer. The band’s sound was unfortunately muddy through the first few songs, but by “Saints and Sailors” everything was ironed out. An intimate performance of “The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most” included pieces of Say Anything’s “I Can Get Sexual, Too” before Chris Carrabba retreated behind a piano for “Everybody Learns from Disaster”, the second of just four songs from his latest album, the excellent Alter the Ending.
Fan-favorites “Screaming Infidelities” and “Again I Go Unnoticed” were executed with perfection; Carrabba prefaced “Thick as Thieves” with a story about a former “foxy” kleptomaniac girlfriend. “As Lover’s Go” was one of the evening’s most massive performances, with Mike Marsh’s pounding drums echoing through the gym. “Remember to Breathe” was injected with other artists’ lyrics, including The Hold Steady’s “Steve Nix” and another ode to Say Anything in the form of “Woe”; a respectable cover of “Summer of ’69” followed. One of Dashboard Confessional’s strongest cuts, “Vindicated”, went flawlessly before the band closed with “Stolen”. Following brief chants for one more song, Carrabba and his band returned on stage for a full-crowd singalong of the band’s signature song, “Hands Down”.
The Good Fight
Saints and Sailors
The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most
Everybody Learns from Disaster
Again I Go Unnoticed
The Shade of Poison Trees
Belle of the Boulevard
Thick as Thieves
Tall Green Grass (Cory Branan cover)
As Lover’s Go
The Swiss Army Romance
Remember to Breathe
Get Me Right
Summer of ’69 (Bryan Adams cover)
It’s hard to imagine a more well-balanced Dashboard Confessional setlist built for a college crowd: Carrabba hand-picked a nice selection from each of his band’s six full-length albums, even finding room for an acoustic cover of “Tall Green Grass” which sounded infinitely better than Cory Branan’s original. Carrabba undeniably connected with the crowd of screaming fans, most of whom were barely ten years old when the thirty-five year old singer-songwriter first started penning his emo-driven confessionals. Much has changed since The Swiss Army Romance, but one thing remains the same: Carrabba is an excellent musician with an uncanny ability to drive every girl in the audience absolutely wild with just riff in E-flat.
Dashboard Confessional photographs provided by the excellent Brian Reilly.