Dashboard Confessional at Summit Music Hall, 01/10/11

John Jefler, Lady Danville and Chris Conley
Summit Music Hall | 1.10.11

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Unsurprisingly, a huge amount of people waited outside Summit Music Hall last night to witness the ten-year anniversary of Dashboard Confessional. Chris Conley, the sole remaining member of Saves the Day, took to the stage before the sharp and stylish Chris Carraba of Dashboard came out and made all the girls (ahem, women) swoon.

John Lefler was plucking passionately as the will-call line dwindled down. Enough can be said about this show's being popular simply based on the fact that a steady line of 25 people were waiting at will-call until at least 8 p.m. (doors were at 6:30). And most were wearing nothing but skin-tight jeans, Macbeth shoes and, of course, Dashboard or Saves the Day T-shirts (save for a Nintendo controller printed shirt and multiple shoulder tattoos of sparrows).

Where was I? Oh, yeah: John Lefler. Lefler joined Dashboard roughly eight years ago (around the time of the MTV Unplugged album), and has been featured or part of the band since. Tonight, however, was simply a solo opening, with some personal songs and one-on-one time with the audience. Somewhere riddled in the intimacy of the set came the lyric "They say I'm sorry about your broken heart," in a ballad that ended on strong note and raised the spirits of everyone swaying in the grand hall at Summit.

An L.A. band, confusingly named Lady Danville, followed Lefler with some piano-ized indie rock. What is it about "indie" bands that make the voices protruding from their owners so deceiving? Either it's too high-pitched for the body producing it, or it's nasal and works perfectly with the "yay-eee-yea's" that seem to fill every song. Lady Danville is no exception, but do not let that deter you from its sound. After a quick dedication to their van, Brenda, for not letting them die coming west over I-70, the guys played a heartwarming cover of "Kids," by MGMT. Following this was a ukulele-and-harmonica smasher called "I want you back," which somehow didn't put everyone to sleep.

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Chris Conley, the vocalist for Saves the Day, performed solo next. For some reason, he was dropping a disclaimer before some songs about how he doesn't play them well acoustically. Soundwise, they were near-studio quality. He hit every note on "You Vandal" and "Three Miles Down," and did especially well on "Freakish." I would even go as far as to say that the only downside to the set was the fact that it felt like I was looking at Justin Bieber's thoroughly post-pubescent doppelganger singing in a high-pitched voice for almost an hour.

A couple of tuned guitars and mike checks later, the lights dimmed for Carabba, and I romantically pulled out my Swiss Army knife in dedication. (Okay, so that didn't happen, but it's all I can do when I think of Swiss Army Romance.) "Again I go unnoticed" and "Screaming Infidelities," both garnered applause and inspired sing-a-longs. Carabba has that kind of voice that makes every note seem like the most important note in the world. He puts so much emphasis into each and every verse that it looks like he's about keel over from cardiac arrest.

To say that this show was good would be saying the least. To emphasize, it was an impressive night that proved Dashboard can still draw a crowd, even on a frigid night in a snow-packed city that had nearly everyone departing in a steamy haze. Carabba still has the sound that helped Dashboard's albums go gold and platinum, and he's touring with an eager bill of guys who tap the same tree for some of that emotional honey.

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Critics Notebook: Personal Bias: I lost my virginity while Dashboard Unplugged was playing on the CD player, so it will always have a soft spot in my heart. Don't blame me: It was my girlfriend at the time who loved them. I'm just cursed to know the truth about my past. Random Detail: Chris Conley does not look like he can produce the sound he makes. By the Way: To give you an idea of how packed it was: Ghostface Killah rolled through here not too long ago, and the Dashboard show probably had roughly four times as many people. The stairs were lined with fans, the balcony was packed, and the hall was a carpet of beanies and comb-overs atop too-tight sweaters.

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