NEW YORK — "You want to try to sing some songs with us?" Chris Carrabba facetiously asked a packed Roseland Ballroom Wednesday.
The embodiment of Dashboard Confessional could have saved his breath and put the effort into an impassioned "Saints and Sailors," the distressed breakup song that was the second offering at this stop on his tour, which wraps up November 5 in Honolulu. Carrabba's query was akin to asking the pope if he could drop a couple of "Hail Mary"'s the next time he rocked a church. The fans lifted their voices to every one of Carrabba's lines — as is customary at Dashboard shows — providing a sincere sing-along so powerful it transcended the spaciousness of the large venue to foster an intimacy usually reserved for smoky clubs.
At times backed by a power trio, and at others standing alone with an acoustic guitar, Carrabba served selections from his two full-length albums, The Swiss Army Romance (2000) and his latest, last year's The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most, as well as cuts from the group's three EPs.
Not only were lyrics cause for fanaticism, the devout met every one of Carrabba's movements, no matter how subtle, with a roar. His perch at the lip of the stage became a cue for fans to really belt it out. With Carrabba, clad in workingman's garb of heavy black jeans topped with a tight black T, away from the mic, vocal duties were handled exclusively by the crowd, which was at times backed by nothing more than a lonely bass drum kicked in 4/4 time or a single chord Carrabba struck twice on his acoustic guitar. The fans lived up to the challenge splendidly, filling the ballroom with more passion than perfect pitch, uniting the room in a mutual understanding of sorrow.
Dashboard introduced a new song, "Tonight, I'll Take What I Can Get," by describing it as being about "drinking, gambling, and maybe about getting married." The rolling, twang-inflected tune, an MP3 of which was posted on Dashboard's official Web site (www.dashboardconfessional.com), was driven by a plucky guitar and up-tempo stomp, out of character from the usual DC fare, and, before any disapproving fans flew off the handle, Carrabba informed them that it was not indicative of the band's new sound.
The pompadoured balladeer crammed over a dozen songs into a one-hour set, including the rolling rocker "Again I Go Unnoticed," uncharacteristic among other songs in the set for its lively percussion and propulsive acoustic strumming; and the breakthrough single "Screaming Infidelities," which got even the non-obsessed to audibly long to be "anywhere with anyone making out." After thanking the crowd for the continuing support that helped Dashboard win the MTV2 Video Music Award, an honor that allowed him to meet the Olsen twins, which he thought was "pretty great," Carrabba left the stage only to emerge minutes later for an encore that surprised no one (it was barely 10 o'clock).
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