DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL and ANDREW MCMAHON (A Parent's Perspective) Show Review
Earlier this year, emo-rock giants DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL announced their co-headlining tour featuring fellow elder emos ANDREW MCMAHON IN THE WILDERNESS with a rotating cast of support from Armor for Sleep, Cartel and The Juliana Theory. The co-headlining duo dropped a slew of tour dates that trickle all over the United States hitting major cities along the way including, New York, LA, Seattle, Philadelphia, and more, kicking off in Minneapolis MN, and ending in Phoenix AZ the first week of September.
Tuesday, August 16th, 2022. The elder emo rockers rolled into the city of Pittsburgh, PA which was also the first day of the tour featuring Cartel. In my nearly 25 years of going to concerts and loving all three bands on the evening's bill, this was admittedly my first show seeing any of these artists live. The show would kick off at Pittsburgh's Stage AE. Stage AE is one of my favorite venues in "The Burgh". I've been to dozens of shows here and it's one of the only venues in the US which features a duel indoor/outdoor venue setting so it can be used year-round during the harsh months of winter and open up outdoors for the summer months as well.
At around 5:30 PM the doors opened. The weather was bright, sunny, and clear all day without a cloud in the sky, which was perfect for the outdoor show that was about to take place. The first band-up was Cartel. After years of being a fan, I'd finally get to see them live. This lineup for this show was so insane that friends of mine were texting all day reminding me of how lucky I was and how jealous they were that I was going to this show.
Cartel ripped through a killer set of fan-favorite songs opening up with "Honestly" from their 2005 album Chroma and then diving into "Say Anything (Else)" from the same record. The band spoke some fond words of their times in Pittsburgh "back in the day" before jumping into "A Perfect Mistake" and "17". Cartel had a sea of fans clapping before jumping into "The Fortunate" from 2007's self-titled record. It was crazy to see so many fans singing along with every single word, myself included, after years of the band's departure. Even frontman/guitarist Will Pugh said that it was "great to be back after all these years" and there "wasn't a better city to kick off their comeback in". The band then dove into fan-favorite "Faster Ride" which had the entire crowd singing at the top of their lungs before closing out with "Burn This City". Cartel in my opinion are such an amazing under-rated band that sounds just as good live as they do on the record. I hope like hell I see them again really soon!
After a brief intermission, and a ton of early 2000s nostalgic emo on the PA system, the one, and only ANDREW MCMAHON IN THE WILDERNESS hit the stage. Lead singer Andrew McMahon took the stage first by himself and took the helm in front of his giant baby grand piano where he played the intro to "Bruised" from his previous band Jack's Mannequin. McMahon then said he was going to play an amalgamation of songs from everything he's done in Something Corporate, Jack's Mannequin, and songs from In The Wilderness which got an incredible pop from the Pittsburgh crowd.
The band then jumped into "High Dive" from In The Wilderness' 2014 self-titled record and then took it all the way back to 2002 with Something Corporate's "I Woke Up In A Car". The trend of playing a "mixture" of tunes from previous bands progressed with Jack Mannequin's "The Mixed Tape" followed by Something Corporate's "Watch The Sky" and then back to In The Wilderness "Island Radio." where he was paraded around the audience on a giant inflatable llama. Yes, you read that right.
McMahon jumped atop of the piano to the sound of a roaring audience with his feet on the keys, before jumping off and playing a melodic impromptu piano ballad that slowly molded into the opening riff to Jack Mannequin's "Holiday From Real". As soon as the song stopped it began to rain on the steel city to which McMahon said "this seems properly fitting for our next song" and dove into Something Corporate's "Hurricane" and then into Mannequin's "The Resolution" just as the rain decided to stop falling.
"Cecilia and the Satellite" was up next followed by a more indie/contemporary version of Corporate's "Punk Rock Princess" which dove into Corporate's "Konstantine" to which in the past McMahon has only played the over 9-minute tune on 11/11 live or very rarely which got an appropriate roar from the audience. McMahon thanked the crowd after popping up way back in the lawn area of the venue while singing and being paraded once around by the audience while wearing a rainbow neon light cape. So much was going on in the madness that I barely realized "Fire Escape" had started which wasted no time leading into "Stars". After a minute of everyone catching their breath, McMahon took the piano again for another impromptu ballad that turned into the opening piano riff to Mannequin's "Dark Blue" before finishing out with Synthesia. I'm really glad my first experience with seeing McMahon live was this moment. My only envy was not seeing the older Corporate/Mannequin days, but the combination of all 3 made it definitely worth the while and wait.
At intermission, My Chemical Romance, blink-182, and other founding-father pop-punk rock bands blasted over the PA system to a predominately 30 + Pittsburgh audience. Though, it was extremely awesome to see the diversity in years. Kids as young as 4 years old were there alongside parents and even grandparents who i can only dub as "ancestor emos".
At approximately 10 pm DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL hit the stage, and as the lights faded to black with a roaring audience, only lead singer Chris Carrabba emerged on stage after Mr. Brightside by The Killers finished fading away on the PA system. Carrabba alone onstage with an acoustic guitar played "A Brilliant Dance" which was fitting since it was the opening track from their 2001 album "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most."
Greeted by the rest of the band on stage, Carrabba said: "we're going to play a bunch of old shit tonight, because we're all old" and after the applause, to a rumbling Steel City audience the band kicked into "Stolen" then jumped straight into "The Sharp Hint of New Tears" from their debut album The Swiss Army Romance from 2000.
"Saints and Sailors" was up next followed by "The Best Deceptions" both from 2001's The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most (TPYHCTFTM). to which Carrabba said "I didn't lie, I said we'd play some old shit", followed up by asking the crowd if they were still awake or if it was past their bedtime since everyone there was over 30 years old. After roaring applause, he said "it's glad to see you're all still with us" before diving back into TPYHCTFTM's title track.
Carrabba then said "I think you all have been waiting for this one and played the opening licks to "Screaming Infidelities" again from TPYHCTFTM. Dashboard decided to change things up a bit by throwing in a cover song by legendary goth rock band The Cure which in my opinion can be traced back and also defined as the pioneers of the emo genre. Greeted on stage by Andrew McMahon the duo played a cover of "Just Like Heaven" from The Cure's 1987 album Kiss Me, Kiss Me, Kiss Me. McMahon and Carraba were amazing together, taking turns on verses of the song which seemed to fit perfect as the cherry on top for an elder emo evening.
Carrabba then joked about how he was going to call his "buddy Tobey" and get himself back into the MCU which is a reference to the Spider-Man 2 soundtrack theme Vindicated which was by Dashboard Confessional, before, of course jumping into that song. After introducing the rest of the band, it began to rain on the Steel City, which was noticed by Carrabba, to which he said "what a great way to end a great evening", and dove into "Hands Down" from Dashboard's 2003 album "A Mark, A Mission, A Brand, A Scar". Just as the song ended, the weather cleared up to what was a forever memorable night at Stage AE.
I'm so lucky to have seen all three of these amazing bands come together. It was, again, my first time seeing all three bands live which made it extra special. If you've ever been a fan of the pop-punk or emo genre one, or all of these bands have been in your radar at some point. They are all equally just as amazing live as they are on the record, and I highly recommend seeing them in a town near you soon.
DASHBOARD CONFESSIONAL and ANDREW MCMAHON IN THE WILDERNESS are on tour now. Check out a full photo gallery of the show as well as tour dates and band info below!
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