STORY WRITTEN BY BRIAN BINGAMAN
@brianbingaman on Twitter
Ever get the feeling you haven’t spent enough quality time with your friends?
Emo champion of the 2000s Chris Carraba has revived Dashboard Confessional, and helped to assemble a lineup for the Rockstar Taste of Chaos tour with Taking Back Sunday, Saosin with Anthony Green, The Early November — and just for the June 19 stop at the Festival Pier at Penn’s Landing, The Starting Line.
“As close as we are, as long as we’ve been friends, we never toured together,” Carraba said of the other bands.
Carraba flashed back to when Dashboard opened for the likes of Weezer, Beck and U2 — back in the days before blazing a trail that included three heart-on-the-sleeve, gold-selling albums; a platinum-selling “MTV Unplugged” recording and being one of the highlights of the “Spider-Man 2” soundtrack (“Vindicated”).
“I owe them a big debt,” he said.
The gratitude also extends to the 2009 dates Dashboard was strangely paired as an opening act for Bon Jovi. “I loved Bon Jovi as a kid. I had no idea Jon Bon Jovi had come to see me play,” Carraba said of a Hurricane Katrina benefit show. “They treated us so well. They taught us a lot about stage presence at that size (stadium concerts).”
After being on hiatus for about five years, Taste of Chaos — the brain child of Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman, and John Reese — has been re-launched.
Just as the Taste of Chaos tour took some time off, Dashboard took a break after the ‘09 album “Alter the Ending,” and Carraba explored his folkier side with a band called Twin Forks. Describing the new acoustic song “May” as “a bridge back to Dashboard,” some would argue that the tune — whose video was quietly posted online recently — is more Twin Forks than Dashboard Confessional.
When asked if he was channeling his inner Bruce Springsteen on “May,” he slyly replied: “I’m not above trying to rip off The Boss. He’s ‘The Boss’ for a reason.”
Carraba shared that it’s one of more than 30 songs that have been recorded for consideration for the next Dashboard album. “May,” and another new song, have been finding their way into Dashboard’s Taste of Chaos set. According to Carraba, when he was asked by his manager which new song should be the first to get the preview treatment, he chose it simply because he knew all the words by heart. “That’s in the name of transparency and honesty, in this election year,” he laughed.
What other songs will the band play at Penn’s Landing? “We’ll go back to the first record (“The Swiss Army Romance”) and forward. We’ll play what we think is important to the audience,” he said.
Now 41 years old, is it strange for Carraba to perform those nakedly honest and hormonally-charged songs, written in his 20s, about unrequited love and stormy, fragile relationships? “Sometimes it’s weird to me. Sometimes a song takes on a tenor that the audience is feeling (at that moment in the show),” he said, noting that the old songs mentally take him back in time and make him aware of personal growth and change.
Arrive to the concert early, if you can. Carraba said that he has a pre-show ritual of spontaneously interacting with fans.
For a beefier investment, there’s a VIP option called “Hands Down — Ultimate Dashboard Confessional Experience,” that comes with a private, acoustic performance and other bonus amenities. “We make it almost a campfire. I’ll tell stories about songs and what inspired them,” Carraba said, adding that he feels it’s more personal than the typical meet-and-greet ritual of autographs and photos (which is not part of the VIP package). Named for a Dashboard song, “Hands Down” sold out on the Chicago, Sterling Heights, Mich., Indianapolis, Pittsburgh and Lewiston, NY tour dates.