Few artists can incite sing-alongs quite as hearty as Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba, who hit the stage running with his full band at the Wiltern on Friday night. Though he used to perform his material solo-acoustic in his early days, the addition of the full band hasn’t made the tunes any less intimate as shown by the eruption when they opened the night with “The Good Fight” and “Saints and Sailors” from 2001’s “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most”.
While the band have six studio albums, including one in the making after a six-year hiatus, a large portion of the set was beloved older tracks — emotive ballads of melody and pop-passion. Truthfully, Carrabba could stand on stage playing guitar for an hour letting only the audience sing every word to every song and people would walk out at the end feeling totally satisfied.
Although Dashboard Confessional shows seem to be largely a place for youthful lovelorn nostalgia, fans were also looking forward to hearing long-awaited new tracks. Carrabba made a short but relevant speech on weighty political matters. “This is a new song from our forthcoming recording,” he said. “It’s written by us, what we do, together. We built all of us right? We built this music scene and we decided together we take care of each other. We accept everybody. Everyone’s included. Why would anyone not be included? It’d be foolish. That seems real American to me. So this song has kind of taken on a broader meaning to us since it seems about time that we maybe start taking care of each other and listening to each other and including each other. If you’re happy about what’s happening here, that is totally American and you have every right and if you’re unhappy about what’s happening and you feel like you wanna talk about it say something about it protest about it, it’s the right thing to do. If we want to change we’re going to have to fight for it I believe.” And then the band launched into the aptly-titled new track “We Fight”.
Shortly after, they also performed a new song called “Heart Beat Here,” asking for audience participation that could end up on the recording. In the middle of the set, the band exited the stage and Carrabba was left alone to serenade with his distinct and occasionally cracked bellow. Fans from the very first row all the way to the back bar were singing loud enough to drown out the lone troubadour onstage. The band returned for a few more songs and closed the main set with one of Dashboard’s strongest tracks, 2002’s “Vindicated,” featured on the “Spiderman 2” soundtrack. With the audience refusing to budge for a few more minutes, Dashboard Confessional returned for one encore song. They performed “Hands Down” from 2001’s “So Impossible” EP — the loudest shout-along proving that everyone at the Wiltern was waiting a long time for the moment to scream the phrase “So we can get some!”