Dashboard Confessional & The All-American Rejects A Midsummer Delight In NYC 8-3-17 w/ The Maine

Dashboard Confessional & The All-American Rejects A Midsummer Delight In NYC 8-3-17 w/ The Maine

Summer in New York City is a magical time filled with unbearable humidity, throngs of tourists, and sidewalks lined with trash baking in the sun. There are some upsides, though, and one of those is Summerstage, which hosts an impressive offering of both free and benefit concerts at outdoor venues all over the city. This in mind, on Thursday, August 3rd, an eager crowd came together at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield for a night of music featuring Dashboard Confessional, The All-American Rejects, and The Maine. One of many dates on their July and August run, as with most tours, the New York City show had a bit of an extra buzz surrounding it. 

The sun was still shining when The Maine took the stage. A decently-sized crowd of dedicated fans gathered up at the barricade, while those interested in the later acts relaxed with food and drinks on picnic-style blankets, content to listen to the show while watching people’s backsides despite the energetic performance The Maine were about to put on.

The newest of the bands on the bill, The Maine were formed in 2007, several years after The All-American Rejects and Dashboard Confessional enjoyed some of their biggest hits. Despite being a younger band – if you consider ten years to be young – The Maine have released six studio albums, including their latest, entitled Lovely Little Lonely, released in early 2017. As the crowd began to grow, the Tempe, Arizona Alternative band walked onto the stage looking sharp in some snazzy dress clothes. The band’s equipment was draped in red and white banners that blew in the slight breeze as they kicked off their set with a new track “Black Butterflies & Deja Vu.”

Vocalist John O’Callaghan’s stage presence immediately got the crowd on their feet and jumping along to “Am I Pretty?” and “Bad Behavior.” He kept fans engaged by asking random questions like “who likes hot dogs?” and “who’s a vegetarian?” In case you were curious, fans unanimously answered “wooo” to both. During “Girls Do What They Want,” a fan-favorite from the band’s 2008 debut album Can’t Stop Won’t Stop, O’Callaghan pulled a guy from the crowd on stage and introduced him to the crowd, getting them all to say “hi” back and asking him to sing the final chorus. The whole ordeal went on a bit too long, but fans seemed to be entertained by it. Either way, The Maine concluded their set with a high-energy performance of the heavy “Ice Cave,” leaving their fans hyped up for The All-American Rejects.

With daylight fading, as the crowd just began their second or third overpriced beverage, Oklahoma’s own The All-American Rejects walked onto the stage greeted by wild cheers. Though the band has only released four studio albums since forming in 1999, The All-American Rejects have enjoyed tremendous success almost from the get-go. Their self-titled debut released in 2002 (and re-released by major label DreamWorks in 2003) has been certified Platinum in the U.S., while 2005’s Move Along went double Platinum. Vocalist/Guitarist Tyson Ritter has even appeared in a few television shows and films, including the criminally underrated 2008 Comedy The House Bunny. Enough about his film career, though, and back to the music.

Ready to go, The All-American Rejects gave fans exactly what they wanted by opening their set with one of their biggest hits, “Dirty Little Secret,” followed by “Stab My Back.” Then, Ritter, clearly understanding his audience, asked in his Southern twang  if “all of you 20 and 30-year-olds wanted some nostalgia,” which earned him an enthusiastic cheer. As soon as the first few notes of Emo anthem “My Paper Heart” rang out across Central Park, nearly everyone in the crowd screamed the lyrics back at Ritter and only got louder during the band’s first major hit, “Swing, Swing.”

Though Ritter certainly excelled at working the crowd, the musicianship of Lead Guitarist Nick Wheeler, Rhythm Guitarist Mike Kennerty, touring Keyboardist Scott Chesak, and Drummer Chris Gaylor did not go ignored as they perfectly replicated tracks like “Mona Lisa,” slow jam “It Ends Tonight,” and even a cover of “Where Is My Mind” by Pixies before another huge hit, “Move Along.” A few drops of rain began to obscure the setting sun as All-American Rejects closed their set with a rollicking rendition of “Gives You Hell,” leaving fans buzzing in more ways than one.

Dusk had just about taken over when Pompano Beach, Florida’s Dashboard Confessional graced Summerstage led by Singer-Songwriter Chris Carrabba along with Bassist Scott Schoenbeck, Guitarist Armon Jay, and Drummer Ben Homola. Like The All-American Rejects, Dashboard Confessional made a name for themselves in the early 2000s and released three certified Gold albums between 2001 and 2006. All told, the band has released six studio albums but have not given fans any new music save for a short-but-sweet EP of cover songs which is great and well worth checking out. Unfortunately, the band went on a hiatus in 2011, but returned in 2015 and have been making the rounds with renewed vigor ever since.

Seeming genuinely ecstatic to be playing in Central Park, the band started their set with “Vindicated,” a song written for 2007’s Spider-Man 2 that ended up becoming one of their biggest hits. Fans happily sang along as they went into “The Sharp Hint of New Tears,” a track from the band’s debut album, followed by fan-favorite “Saints and Sailors.” Though it was early in the set, Carrabba’s masterful guitar-playing and songwriting ability had fans thrilled and cheering. This was especially pronounced when he held an impressive long note during “Remember to Breathe,” which then transitioned into a cover of Justin Bieber’s “Love Yourself.” Even those unfamiliar with Dashboard’s music sang long to this radio hit. Unsurprisingly, Carrabba’s version sounded much better than the original. Carrabba even stated that he and the band love to play covers, and so they then went into The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven,” which became one of the highlights of the evening.

After playing the slow and sweet “Stolen,” Carrabba got political and talked about how the Alternative music scene should not exclude anyone before delighting fans with a brand new song, “We Fight.” Then, the band exited the stage and left Carrabba alone with an acoustic guitar for another classic, “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most.” When he stepped away from the microphone, fans could be heard shouting every word to that and “The Ghost of a Good Thing.” Still alone, Carrabba played another new song, entitled “Heartbeat Here.” He even noted that the band would be recording fans singing along to the chorus and would feature them on the band’s first new album in eight years because he feels that the fans are part of the band as well.

To end the set, Carrabba and company returned to the stage to play their staple hit “Screaming Infidelities,” which had the audience going wild and singing their loudest before the band made their exit. Of course, they came back once to perform “Hands Down” as their encore. Though, just when fans thought the night was over, Carrabba, armed with his acoustic guitar, asked fans to sing the chorus with him one more time, noting that the song means as much to the band as it does to the fans before the set came to its emotional end.

When it was all said and done it was impressive how Carrabba made the show feel small and intimate despite the fact that thousands of fans were there before the massive stage. Hopefully Dashboard Confessional will return soon with new music, but for now, their tour with The All-American Rejects and The Maine is a must see as it continues through August 15th. 

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Katherine Szabo
Katherine Szabo
katherine.szabo1@gmail.com

Katherine has been living for music since she was a young teen. Using her B.A. in English Literature and (almost complete) M.A. in English and Creative Writing, she hopes to combine her penchant for Punk music and live shows with her passion for writing in order to make exciting content for fellow fans. On the side, she writes about her two other passions: books and video games. 

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