It’s hard for me to understand how I’m turning 28 years old in two weeks but still know every single word to the songs I would scream along to when I was in my early teens. Friday night was definitely a throw back concert and I hadn’t really thought of the bands I saw in over fifteen years but I still knew every single word to every single song and you bet your ass that I was screaming along.
Duluth based The Social Animals opened up the Friday night show with their good old-fashioned rock n’ roll sounds. I instantly recognized two of the members as being from Diet Folk, a band I used to work with when I was working with a non profit that was booking concerts in Saint Paul, MN. As soon as I realized where I knew the faces from, I was anxious to hear what these kids had been up to. As soon as the show started, I was impressed. There was no gimmick when it came to this band. No fancy lights, no jumps off the drumset, nothing. It was just four friends playing music with an undeniable sense of passion that was hard to ignore. Their music wasn’t super fast, it wasn’t super loud but it was super well thought out. You could tell that each of the members of The Social Animals is truly a musician with a talent. Singer Dedric Clark didn’t address the crowd many times but, when he did, you could tell he was truly humbled to play an “almost local” show with such legendary groups for a certain generation. Their calm demeanor throughout the set and the way the crowd was left pleading for an encore even after the house lights had come on leads me to believe that these guys are definitely going to be the next big thing. I may just now be jumping on The Social Animals bandwagon but I am definitely excited to see where this ride takes.
Following up the quick set from The Social Animals was, what seemed to be, the favorite of the night for majority of the crowd– The All American Rejects. Now, deny all you want but there was a time when you were obsessed with this band. Their catchy pop-punk anthems were a staple in my generation’s teenage years. Their first album “The All American Rejects” came out in 2002 and paved a path for many bands in this genre and they continue to pave that path. The twenty-something year old females in the crowd screeched as heart-throb singer Tyson Ritter took the stage and didn’t seem to stop screaming until the end of their set. I may or may not have been one of these screeching twenty-something females.
As soon as The All American Rejects started the set with their first hit single “Swing Swing” that came out in 2002, I knew it was going to be a set full of throwback songs that would take me back to a different time in my life. I was half expecting to hear these guys play mostly new songs as they have a new EP slated to come out later this year but they obviously knew the demographic they were playing for and stuck with the classics from the early to mid 2000’s. The energy that was coming off of the stage was electric and it was hard to not let yourself get lost in the sweaty crowd. With lights flashing and the band members constantly moving around on stage, it was impressive to see such an “old-school” band still have that energy that got them to the top of the scene so many years ago.
Emo kings Dashboard Confessional closed out the night with even more throwback songs that I hadn’t heard in years yet somehow still knew every single word. Full disclosure- I was never a huge Dashboard fan. Sure, when I broke up with my first boyfriend I had their somber songs on repeat but I had to be in a super depressed mood to truly enjoy their music. That being said, singer Chris Carrabba has one of those voices that hasn’t really changed with time. Maybe that’s why as soon as he started singing I was flooded with memories of past boyfriends and past lives. Sounds cheesy, I know, but I love when you go to a show and something as simple as someone’s voice has that effect on you.
Chris charmed the crowd throughout the headlining set. With a smile that could make you faint and a sense of honesty that comes through not only when he’s singing, but also when he is just talking to the crowd, you can’t help but instantly fall in love with this man. It didn’t matter what song the group was playing, the entire crowd was singing along. With six albums out but the most recent one having been released in 2009, I was impressed by just how many people still remembered the lyrics to all of these iconic songs. It doesn’t matter if these people still have Dashboard on their daily playlists or not, the fact that so many people were singing along with tears streaming down their faces (oh yeah, this show was a freaking cry fest) just shows the power that this band had on an entire generation.
The band behind Chris may have let him steal the spotlight but, without the band, Chris would be just another beautiful guy with a pretty voice. Even though there is only one remaining original member (Scott Schoenbeck on bass) other than Chris, the group had a very cohesive feel to them. I loved watching the interaction between band members as they smiled and joked throughout the set together. This gave, what could have been, a super heartbreaking show a sense of energy that made it much more upbeat than the music actually was and that was something I truly appreciated. Even Tyson from The All American Rejects pointed out that majority of the crowd was coupled up and, being a member of the lonely hearts club, it was hard to forget that I was completely surrounded by couples swaying in each others arms but, because of that energy emanating off the stage, I quickly forgot that I was single and at a Dashboard Confessional show.
You know when a band comes out on stage and you instantly get goosebumps for no good reason? Or when, before a band even starts playing their set, your eyes swell up with tears because you are hit with so many memories from just seeing the band members? That’s how Friday night’s show was for me and it was perfect.