Emo

Story Behind The Setlist: Dashboard Confessional and Thrice @ Honda Civic Tour 2004 – San Jose, CA

There are three things I remember about the Dashboard Confessional, Thrice and The Get Up Kids concert in San Jose, California in 2004:

  • Chris Carrabba stopped the show mid-song and threatened to beat up my friend
  • We missed The Get Up Kids, the band I most wanted to see, due to a speeding ticket
  • A motel bathtub full of alcohol

All other details have been filled in by friend’s memories. It’s good to have friend’s memories corroborate an event like this, because, really, it makes for a very strange story.

Where do we start?

Highway 101 north of San Luis Obispo.

I sat in the back seat of a smelly car full of high school graduates. We were 18 year olds, idyllic in our fresh angst, speeding with the radio loud, bags of Doritos strewn, gas station fountain drinks in hand — all those cliche snacks from youth I’m still waiting to outgrow — we had what seemed a never ending supply.

Socially, I was a man of many cliques. Never a big partier, a little alcohol at a friend’s house, say, but never could I stomach drunkenness or drugs. What I was was morally malleable. This meant I could make a go at any social gathering with decent success. This particular 2004 outing was unique, socially speaking, for merging three disparate friend groups. I had my party friends, my church friends, and my actual friends. I remember sitting in that backseat with the sobering and unmasking feeling that comes with your friends meeting your other very different friends.

Punk, partier, and Christian — on our way in a caravan to San Jose. Ahead of us lay three rooms in a louche motel with alcohol, cigarettes and concert tickets to the 2004 Honda Civic Tour. (more…)

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ALBUM REVIEW: Jimmy Eat World – Integrity Blues

“It doesn’t have to hurt anymore,” sings Jimmy Eat World on the angelic, swelling new tune, “The End is Beautiful,” and my eyes are also swelling. I’m not crying, I wouldn’t do that. Not here, anyway, in this hipster coffee shop, where tears are strictly reserved for Bon Iver’s latest whatever. Throughout Integrity Blues but especially on “The End is Beautiful,” Jim Adkins’ lyrics fit familiar, like a decade-old pair of jeans that somehow managed to grow along with us.

“You said, ‘However you go, I’ll be cheering you on.
In the end, what’s the difference how it all went wrong?’
Hey, that’s something. The truth is what you believe it is.
It doesn’t have to hurt anymore”

Here’s how I’m choosing to interpret these lyrics:

It doesn’t have to hurt anymore, because Jimmy Eat World (i.e., America’s emo dads) have returned to pluck our heart strings and tell us all it’s not our fault. (more…)

ALBUM REVIEW: Kevin Devine -Instigator

Prolific songwriters are annoying. You hear about guys like Kevin Devine and you say, “Wow! Can’t wait to get into this,” and suddenly eight years go by and you’ve missed nine albums and two side-projects (see also, Ryan Adams).

Despite some familiarity with his catalogue (mostly the Bubblegum and Bulldozer albums), I fully admit that I should be a bigger fan of Kevin Devine than I am. Here’s my reasoning: 

My name is also Kevin. [√]

I happen to look like Kevin. [√]

I’m a long-time, bitter Brand New fan. [√]

I’ve seen Kevin live three times and he’s always amazing. [√ and √]

What happens is this: I see Kevin Devine in concert, I walk away in awe, and then I listen to his records and come away disappointed. Call it the “Curse of the Great Live Band,” but I find his studio stuff often fails to capture the spirit, energy and vulnerability of what I hear on stage.

There’s also the problem that his recordings sound like crap.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk Instigator (more…)

Album Review: Taking Back Sunday – Tidal Wave

The biggest myth about Taking Back Sunday is that Tell All Your Friends (2002) is their best record. The truth is that — now on to their seventh studio album — Taking Back Sunday’s best record is the one that you first discovered them with. In this way, they’re like the Batman of post-emo alt rock: Gen Xers prefer Michael Keaton, Millennials have Christian Bale, and Gen Ys have embraced Batfleck. (This Millennial, however, will always choose Keaton).

After the almost-unlistenable Happiness Is (2014), Taking Back Sunday (TBS) have returned with Tidal Wave — an almost-ambitious record. They wanted to do something different here, and good: it’s about time. When TBS dropped the title-track as the first single, fans were left scratching their heads. Is this the Dropkick Murphys or Rancid? Certainly not Taking Back Sunday!!!

The song’s sweaty swagger is absolutely polarizing. Love it or hate it, “Tidal Wave” is a refreshing change of pace from a band who is often lost in their own sound. There are no wrist-slitting break-up lyrics, no overlapping harmonies, no long bridges with massive build ups. Just a gritty, quick and dirty, two-and-a-half minute gut punch. And it’s great fun. Unfortunately, the song is also somewhat of a bait and switch, as Tidal Wave is not the “new-direction” Taking Back Sunday record that its title-track single promises.

Different in the midst of sameness

Instead, the album is one of noncommittal change that quickly succumbs to the bad habits and songwriting ruts that have haunted much of the band’s previous efforts. It’s a tension that influences too much of the record, coloring it mediocre and underdeveloped. (more…)

This is a Nightmare: Being a ‘Brand New’ Fan in 2016

Rock band Brand New’s infrequent musical output has frustrated fans to no end.

It’s been seven years since Daisy. Ten since Devil and God.

(Let that sink in).

Like an overlapping harmony, longtime Brand New fans lovingly obsess and revoltingly resent the Long Island quartet. I do too. There’s the waiting for new material, there are the mixed messages via merchandise, there is the complete and utter lack of communication (except for, of course, when they have something repurposed to sell).

It’s not uncommon for bands to keep private before releasing new music. The problem is that Brand New dangles the idea of new music in front their fans, but then never delivers. Playing coy for the sake of building interest is one thing. Lying to fans is another thing altogether.

brand-new-1

Brand New is basically the deadbeat dad who missed our birthday party. Seven years in a row.

We forgive them because we love them and we can’t help it.

Nevertheless, it’s easy to forget— with our insatiable Brand New appetites — that there actually is new Brand New music out there. No full album but singles, live tracks, mastered and reworked demos have all surfaced, both officially and unofficially, over the last couple years. (more…)

Confessions of a Former Dashboard Confessional Fan

Many pop/rock bands from my youth are reemerging. Weezer, Brand New, Blink 182, mewithoutYou and Jimmy Eat World have all embarked on album reunion tours (Jimmy Eat World just announced one for FUTURES, which is pretty great). For me, this year marks the tenth anniversary of something even more nostalgic and silly, that is, my high school graduation.

I think about where I was ten years ago and who I was listening to. Oddly enough, it is a lot of the same music I listen to today. Adding to the list up top we have Death Cab for Cutie, Beck, Denison Witmer, Lovedrug, Ben Folds…

I’m okay with still liking all these bands. Their music is sustaining, and I’m proud to say that they helped shape my younger ears.

But there’s other bands from my past, that when they pop up, I’m not so okay with. What I’m getting at is that sometimes certain music reminds me how creepy I was in high school.

The Bands You Have Come to Fear the Most

Remember Dashboard Confessional? That emo acoustic-rock band lead by Chris Carrabba out of Further Seems Forever? I’m asking but, really, I know you do. Odds are if you are around my age and listened to indie/emo you probably owned two or three of his EPs; the MTV Unplugged DVD/CD combo; you wore the D/C pins on your denim jacket; and you shouted his lyrics like hell, in angst, when relationships broke (and really, even when you were happy).

Yeah. That Dashboard Confessional.

What was it about this band that was so gripping? I mean sure, he sang about falling in love and break-ups and getting cheated on, which captured the essence of dating in high-school, but there was something else. Something that just connected.

Maybe it was the time. One of those rare things, you know? A perfect storm, fueled by emotion-hungry MTV rebels who were looking for a genuineness than rock radio couldn’t provide. And Chris Carrabba sang from the heart. He was always truthful on stage, and I think that’s what we loved. He was the genuine, earnest article. He was the folk-voice of my high school generation, and, to be honest, it’s totally embarrassing.

But before I get ahead of myself, here’s a quick recap for those who honestly don’t know about Dashboard Confessional.

Kevin’s Dashboard 3 Point Recap

1. Cheated on by his wife, he poured his heart out on some angsty acoutsic EPs

2. Those EPs made him super popular. Then he made more of the same

3. He eventually pulled a ’65 Dylan and went electric, earning a couple big MTV hits.

I was a REALLY big fan of Dashboard. The extent of my obsession was a bit much. You can tell I was a big fan because I drop the band’s last name when I refer to them. We were that close. Like Chris, I now need to confess. I need to brush embarrassing memories off my chest, so I can finally move forward, like an adult.

(To the tune of Buzzfeed)

Vindicated?

1. I had a questionably handsome poster on my bedroom wall of Chris on the cover of SPIN

$_35

2. I used my friend’s dad’s eBay account to consistently bid on Dashboard merch. mlRflFAMpCcNczhbPF_fKhg (more…)