By Emilie Medland-Marchen
CALGARY – At the height of their career in 2003, Dashboard Confessional was the poster child of emo in its infancy. Fronted by heartthrob Chris Carrabba, the band provided a vocalized backdrop to a generation of angst-ridden teenagers. Those teens are now grown adults, but the saccharine lyricism of Dashboard Confessional still holds much of the same cultural value it once did. Dash’s recent show at the MacEwan Ballroom was just what you’d expect — the crowd mostly comprised of couples in their 30’s trying to recapture the nostalgia of their youth. But peppered within the older audience was a surprising collection of teenagers that rivalled the most dedicated of Dash’s mature fanbase.
Although Dashboard’s newest album Crooked Shadows is far more akin to Imagine Dragons than emo, Carrabba spent much of the set revisiting his acoustic roots. Indie pop hits like “Belong” functioned as interludes between older sing-a- long anthems. Despite their desperate search for a radio hit on 2018’s Crooked Shadows, Dashboard still recognizes the importance of pandering to early fans. With the genre’s recent revival seen in bands like Youth Lagoon, Fog Lake, and Bon Iver, the reassertion of Dashboard Confessional establishes an important trajectory for emo
While fans of Dashboard Confessional may have moved away from the drama of heartsick youth, Carrabba’s presence paved the way for emo to develop beyond simple songs about kissing girls, unrequited love and staying out late. As fans sang every word to old hits “Screaming Infidelities” and “Remember to Breathe” Carrabba looked every bit the emo heartthrob from his MT Unplugged Session in 2002, wielding the same talent for capturing creative intimacy with a generation of youth. That intimacy is something Dashboard Confessional has managed to retain for nearly two decades — no easy feat for an emo boy who first found fame by scream-singing about his best date ever.Dashboard Confessional, live review, MacEwan Ballroom