Concert Reviews

I broke up with Chris Carrabba last night while he smiled and led singalongs

We've had some good times, Chris Carrabba. It wasn't pretty, but I fell pretty hard for Dashboard Confessional. But that was a long time ago. This is where I say I've had enough, Chris. It's over. I hoped it wouldn't be. But after that show last night at the Bluebird, I know we have to go our separate ways. A breakup with you should be dramatic, full of screaming infidelities and sobbing dramatics. But that's not what this is. This is an adult breakup, where we see each other and mutually decide we have nothing in common anymore.

You used to be about the drama. I miss the drama.

Your new band, Twin Forks, isn't completely terrible. I wish it were; maybe that would make this easier. Instead it's just bland -- the Lumineers and Mumford & Sons trend has obviously made an impression on you. Your set is full of spirited clapping and group singalong choruses that feel stale and put-on. But the crowd seems to enjoy it.

There are a few graduated scene girls whose black hair and eye makeup feel out of place amongst the crowd of drunk moms and backwards-hat bros mostly there to see the headliner, Augustana. I'm watching your show Chris, and there's not a word that I comprehend. But wait, were some of those lyrics you sang "candy apple ass on the hood of my car"? I'm pretty sure they were. But I'm always assuming the worst. Is that a mini tambourine on your leather boot?


I guess I shouldn't be surprised. You were always a bro dressed in sensitive boy clothes. Even at age fourteen I was too embarrassed to admit my Dashboard Confessional love. You had a song in Spider-Man 2 for god's sake. You were Bright Eyes for the mainstream aggro dudes and cheerleaders who alienated me. But still, I cherished The Swiss Army Romance. I abandoned it for punk for a while, but an especially potent heartbreak at age 24 brought me back to you. I fell in love again with that album, Chris. With Dashboard and Further Seems Forever. With you. Your diary-entry lyrics and emotive wail shot straight to my heart. :(

And it did again in the middle of your set when you furrowed your brow for once during the set and played "The Swiss Army Romance" alone onstage with your acoustic guitar, surprising those of us who came for the teen heartbreak of your former life. This is why it's so hard to break up with someone in person. They're always drawing you back in.

So we sang along, a surprisingly quiet chorus compared to the kind of chorus that sang along to your 2002 MTV Unplugged 2.0 set, almost deafening, drowning out your words. There are more voices in the air when you play those en vogue folksy songs. People clap along madly, smiling. You're smiling, too, full of bouncy antics where you sidle up against the blonde, highlight-haired singer dressed in a flowing Urban Outfitters-style boho dress and leather belt while you cover The Weepies and Steve Earle. When did your eyes begin to look fake? I hope you're as happy as you're pretending.

Your banter was awkward. You kissed a girl in the audience on the head who screamed your name, and then you said into the mic, "I don't know her," before launching into the song. You made strange jokes about losing weight from living on PB&J and urged people to buy merch and made empty promises to take off your shirt. You joked about kissing some guy named Dan and stroking his beard. I realized later via Google search that you were talking about Dan Layus from Augustana. It's like coming back from summer break and seeing a high school crush completely change scenes. Your inside jokes don't relate to me anymore. It's hard to believe that I would let myself get so wrapped into you. I can't stand another jaunty "hey" sung in tandem with your bandmates. There's so much glee it's sickening.

Maybe it's me. Who am I to begrudge your joy? People seem stoked to clap in unison to your trendy folk tunes. I'm just hanging onto some wallowing teen angst, while everyone else is bouncing around and having a good time. I'm expecting you to be something you were, and maybe that's unfair. I want the driving emo wail of Further or the whispered pain of Dashboard. I want the fresh hint of new tears, but maybe at age 25 I need to let go of my own teen angst. Still, there will always be a place for you in my heart.

But dammit, Chris, you used to cite Jawbreaker as an influence. And I just read an interview where you call Mumford & Sons the best band in the world. It's totally over.

It's cool, we can still be friends (on Twitter): @robinrobine

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Robin Edwards
Contact: Robin Edwards