Our Friends

Dashboard Confessional, All American Rejects, Social Animals 7/16/17

Dashboard Confessional, after several years of success, still know exactly what reaches out to an audience.  That much is clear in the array of ages and backgrounds the crowd came from. I had fully expected the large number of pre-teen girls still fawning over Chris Carrabba, “world’s cutest guy” according to Good Clean Fun. However I was surprised to see a good variety of older people, girls and guys alike, who were truly enjoying the music. A band is writing worthwhile music if it can hold on to the fans well past their pre-teen years and keep them engaged.

Well, engaged with their ears at any rate. The Stir concert cove is an interesting venue, there is not another like it in the area. In some ways, I’m grateful for that and in others, that’s too bad. Stir allows people who have long since given up caring about music to feel free to sit in their lawn chairs and stare at a band perform. That drives me nuts as a music enthusiast. Live performances are meant to be enjoyed. The band performing draws their energy from the crowd. Touring bands do the same show every night, with small variances, for months at a time. By the time they get to the Midwest, they can be bored, dog tired and ready to put on a half ass performance just to get through the night and move on. The poor bands who end up playing at Stir must feel like if they stopped strumming their instruments, they could hear the crickets in the grass up on the hill. They can’t draw the energy from the crowd as motivation to put their hearts into the performance. Live music is a conversation between a band and the fans, and Stir needs to find a way to make that relevant or risk losing the desire of groups to actually perform there. The videography was a great idea to get more involvement but it is falling very short. If there was a guitar solo, why are we focused on the drummer doing nothing? It could use some work and practice but I do think it is headed in the right direction at the very least.

I do love how the entire area for dancing is paved in Astroturf at this particular venue. I think that is innovative because if it were left in grass, it would be mud 80% of the time and the bug bites would be horrendous. I definitely appreciate the engineering that went into that. The sound at the venue is remarkably good thanks to the set up. Sometimes, outdoor shows can really lose the power of the music and that is not a problem for Stir. As much as I dislike all the people sitting on the hill with their overpriced drinks, I do appreciate that Stir provides a place where they are likely to see music and support bands. I can’t see them coming out to Sokol Underground, exactly. Music is meant to be enjoyed and Stir does have a way of bringing people in who would not be attending anywhere else.

The opening and supporting acts did a great job. Social Animals were thrilled to be there and be given the opportunity to open for people who they clearly respect. I didn’t know any of their music when I started the night, but the clear, warm voice of the singer draws you in and makes you want to listen. They play their instruments well and were a joy to watch. So many opening bands can bore the hell out of you, but Social Animals felt like they made the most of the time they were given. I actually enjoyed listening to them instead of just wishing them off the stage for the more familiar acts to follow. They have a way of making you care what message they are trying to say without being overbearing.

All American Rejects have a knack for radio hits. Before their set started, I would have said I knew three songs, all of them as old as the band. When they were done, I was amazed to find out that I actually know six songs. I truly appreciate that they played the older songs that were playing when I grew up. I know that playing the song that made a band first get recognized many years before is annoying and repetitive to the band. It seems like torture to them to play the same notes in the same order for the 47,381st time. But the bands who follow through with those songs make the fans who have been there for years feel like they are still appreciated and not just ignored for the newer, younger crowd. We know you’ve moved on, we know you have new music, but damn it, for 3 minutes, just let us reminisce about the first time of finding that music to hold on to, and all the times it has touched our hearts since. I do appreciate Tyson Ritter, lead singer of All American Rejects, not being afraid to say it like it is. He made many comments about the venue, the seating, and the crowd involvements that I feel were well deserved and a poor representation of how I like to see bands treated when they visit the Midwest. Bands make a lot more money when they tour the coasts or internationally. They don’t have to stop in the middle of our cornfield to see us, and if they aren’t well received… next time they won’t bother.

I personally remember Dashboard from my much younger days. Mainly when we would watch music videos on TV after school (man, I’m old) and a close friend of mine nearly broke her leg when she tried to jump the coffee table to get onto the couch when Vindicated started in. Dashboard has been an uncontested leader of their genre for many years now. There are a huge number of bands touring right this minute who would list Chris Carrabba has a solid influence on why they started to play. The songs are heartfelt ballads that speak of strong emotions. Melancholy, sadness, euphoria, first love; if it is something you sense so deep in your heart that you don’t have the words to voice your feelings, Dashboard Confessional has probably already said it better than you ever will. The songs were delivered beautifully, new and old, making a good effort to include all the fans that had come to support. Had my old friend been there, I feel like she still would have tripped over herself to stare at Carrabba as he belted out those words from our childhood. The music might not be your style but you have to admit that emotions demand to be felt and the band portrayed those notes so poignantly and powerfully, they could have turned anyone’s ear that night. It was a beautiful performance in a situation where the band would have understandably not had the motivation to do so, which makes it all the more meaningful of a gift.

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