REVIEW: Dashboard Confessional + All-American Rejects Rock the Park

It was Emo night at Soundboard Magazine on Thursday night as NYC’s world-famous Central Park was taken over by Dashboard Confessional and All-American Rejects at the annual summer concert series known as Summerstage. The two groups essentially had co-headline slots, with AAR and Dashboard Confessional playing for almost the same amount of time, though Dashboard obviously got the encore, and the whole thing was kicked off with support from The Mainewho recently headlined Webster Hall with The Mowglis (who are a blast live, by the way). The three bands combined for a fun show despite the sun beating down on us for the first act and a half, and then the rain that followed just in time for Dashboard Confessional‘s set.

On that note, let’s get into it, shall we? The Maine only had a short time to play, being the opener and all, so their slot was limited to about 30 minutes and 7 songs. They’re absolutely a fun live act, but I’ve learned to stop judging bands based on their performances as openers. Of their 7 tunes, a few of them were Am I Pretty?Bad BehaviorGirls Do What They Want and Ice Cave. They were a blast to photograph and their set was pretty good, but I’d like to see them on a headline run to really judge them. That said, I’d definitely check them out a second time. We’ll get into All-American Rejects after the jump.

The Maine performing at Summerstage

After a quick-ish set change, it was time to take me all the way back to 2003 with The All-American Rejects. These guys were featured on the soundtrack to the worst movie in my favorite comedy series, American Wedding, which is where I first heard them. Let’s be honest, looking back at that soundtrack 14 years later, it was deserving of a much better movie, but I’m getting away from the point. The first AAR song I ever heard was Swing, Swing, which would of course be included in this night’s setlist. That’s a no-brainer. Of the other 12 songs AAR played, the group kicked their set off with Dirty Little Secret before ripping into Stab My Back. Also on offer were fan favorites like Kids in the Street, It Ends Tonight, Move Along and Gives You Hell to close out their set, and in between there was a cover of Where Is My Mind? by Pixies.

All-American Rejects gave fans a set full of early-2000’s nostalgia with hits from their early years mixed in with some more recent stuff – if 2012 is “recent”, the band hasn’t released an album since – and put on a great performance to go along with a great setlist despite only having released 4 albums in their 15-year history. That’s hard to believe, only 4 albums including their 2002 debut, but they’ve made it work thus far and are out on tour with another band who hasn’t released an album in nearly a decade, and fans still flock to see them. Why not, when the performance is fun-filled and high energy?

Have a look out the photo gallery for AAR and read past the break for Dashboard Confessional.

Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects at Summerstage

Another set change, some rain and Chris Carrabba’s Dashboard Confessional was set to go. I’ve wanted to see these guys live for a while now and wasn’t able to catch the on their 3-night run here in NYC not too long ago, so for Dashboard to come back around so soon was great, and this time they were playing outside instead of in the stuffy confines of Irving Plaza (or was it Gramercy Theater?)  where they sold out all three nights rather quickly. I didn’t pay too much attention to whether this show was sold out, and it’s hard to tell in the middle of a park, but there were a ton of people by the time the band went on.

These guys are a fun little act, and I managed to survive the Justin Bieber cover (I swear that kid needs to be punched in the face repeatedly) to check out most of their set before departing in search of air conditioning and cheap booze. It seems like all their fans love The Swiss Army Romance, and yet only 3 songs from that album appeared on the setlist – The Sharp Hint of New Tears, Screaming Infidelities and Again I Go Unnoticed – but the group did play a pair of new tunes, We Fight and Heart Beat Here, both of which will presumably be on an album released at some future date.

A couple other worthwhile mentions are Vindicated, which opened the set, along with Saints and Sailors, Ghost of a Good Thing, Stolen and Hands Down for the encore. Throw in a cover of The Cure’s Just Like Heaven and you’ve got yourself a pretty damn good show. Dashboard Confessional are what they are, a band everyone comes to see for the hits, and the fact that they haven’t released an album in 8 years seems to matter little as they continue to pack venues, tour after tour, like it’s 2005 all over again. New music be damned, these guys are riding the good ship lollipop and don’t really need to do anything more than they already are.

That’s rare, though, unless you’re a band that’s been around for 40 years and have 20 hits you can rotate in and out on tour. Dashboard Confessional has been around for 16 or 17 now, and have released 6 studio albums, and they could quite literally live off the success of The Swiss Army Romance as fans still clamor for any song off that record. That says a lot about the songwriting and just how good they are live, that they don’t need to release new music all that often – or at all – to get people to come out and pay good money to see them live. And when you can sell out NYC three nights in a row earlier this year and then pack people into an outdoor venue on a Thursday night in August, you’re doing something right. Chris Carrabba & company can continue to ride the wave of their early success and keep playing the hits, and the masses will keep on coming.

The Maine, All-American RejectsDashboard Confessional combined to put on a show that felt more like the main stage of a festival circa-2006 than a somewhat-intimate show in a relatively small venue erected on the lawn at Central Park, and it was a killer show by the time it was said and done. See this tour if you can, the whole thing is totally worth the money. Photo gallery below.

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba having a little fun at Summerstage