A letter to Dashboard Confessional at SXSW

Emo rock band Dashboard Confessional headlined Pandora’s South by Southwest showcase at the Gatsby on Thursday. 

To whom it may concern, but primarily Chris Carrabba,

Right now, there is a cool mist floating in Austin’s night air, and you are wearing black leather loafers. They look great. Where do you get off?

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba preforms at The Gatsby during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

In all seriousness, I was a little worried I wouldn’t get into your SXSW show at the Gatsby tonight. But there I was, at the bar and talking to a charming woman from Erie, Pennsylvania, about our favorite “Project Runway” contestants, when you planted those loafers on the stage. Me and everyone else in the audience were on the same page. We wanted you to sing “Hands Down.” I’m sure you get that a lot.

MORE PHOTOS: Dashboard Confessional at SXSW 2018

You’ve made a career of backing away from the microphone, in these latter days of millennials having life insurance policies instead of LiveJournals. “Should we, like, sing one together?” you asked almost as soon as we saw you. I truly don’t think you got past one verse of “The Best Deceptions” before you dropped back and let your audience fill in the blanks.

See, I don’t get the feeling that you’re salty about singing to a flock of parrots every night. You smiled through your sound problems, and you maintained eye contact longer than my optometrist does. You stared deep into individual audience members’ peepers when you sang “you have stolen my heart.” I’m not saying I’m afraid of commitment, but when you did that, I wanted to change my address. You’re a ray of sunshine singing the saddest songs in black skinny jeans. You know your oeuvre is the “previous experience” section on the emotional résumés of most people here. (Duties included: screaming infidelities, laying my armor down, light clerical work.) Thanks for playing ball.

And yep, “Hands Down” gave everyone their life around 1:30 a.m. I know that you meant it, Chris. You meant it.

Dashboard Confessional’s Chris Carrabba preforms at The Gatsby during SXSW, Thursday, March 15, 2018. (Stephen Spillman / for American-Statesman)

But let me address the elephant in the room (note that I avoided using the phrase “confess,” and you are welcome). I am not a deep cuts Dashboard man. As a #teen discovering music that was not sold at Family Christian Store for the first time, I went Death Cab when I was sad, and I went Yellowcard when I was amped. I don’t know if a 42-year-old is super jazzed to play their contribution to the “Spider-Man 2” soundtrack 14 years after the movie came out, but it meant a lot that you played “Vindicated.”

All you need to know is that it’s my 29th birthday as of midnight. When I was 15, I listened to “Vindicated” on repeat on my CD player, taking deep into myself the parts about being flawed but cleaning up so well. Correct, the actual story of the song has nothing to do with anything I was going through when I was 15, starting with the diamond ring and ending with parting anyone’s lips with my fingertips. But the point is, when I was doing “sad secret gay teenager,” I sat in the Regal Westgate movie theater and actually stayed for the credits to “Spider-Man 2.” Hope was dangling by a string, after all.

Send my best to the whole band, especially Chris Kamrada’s tank top.

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