And so begins my birthday week. Honestly, I don’t have much planned this year. I think I’ve just been so busy with work and life in general that I haven’t been able to put much thought into it but, let me tell you, kicking the week off at The Fillmore on Sunday was a great way to bring in my thirty-third spin around the sun.
Although I was excited to see all three acts on the bill, the opening act Armor For Sleep was the one I was really really excited for. I know I just saw them last September at The Fine Line, I was ready to catch this band that left such an imprint on my heart again. Armor For Sleep is one of those quintessential emo bands from the early 2000s. Their heavy lyrics matched with their catchy and distinct instrumentation made them a favorite of those who were in the know and, thankfully, I was in the know. The band disbanded back in 2009 but have gotten together a few times over the years and finally official reunited in 2020. It was an absolute thrill to hear a new track from this band as they are sent to release a new album yet this year but my favorite part of the set was hearing those songs that meant so much to me back when I was a teenager and continue to be a soundtrack to my life. Armor For Sleep was only on stage for about thirty minutes which was definitely not enough for myself or the rest of the audience screaming their lungs out to every word but it was an absolute treat. I truly hope that the new album dropping will mean a headline tour soon and it better come up to Minnesota!
I was honestly a bit surprised as the stage was turned over for Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness after Armor For Sleep’s set. Obviously, as a co-headlining tour between Andrew McMahon and Dashboard Confessional and Sunday being the first stop of the tour, I knew it was a toss-up as to who would headline but I think just based on Andrew McMahon’s reception throughout the Twin Cities, I figured they would end up headlining. But I digress. There was an undeniable sense of anticipation in the absolutely packed audience as Andrew’s signature piano covered in stickers (including a First Avenue one) was pushed to the center of the stage. Andrew McMahon is a bit of a legend. From his work as the frontman of Something Corporate to Jack’s Mannequin to his solo (but with an incredible band behind him) stuff which comes in the form of Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Andrew’s voice has literally been a constant throughout many people’s lives and that was put in the spotlight on Sunday night.
Kicking off their set with “Bruised”, a Jack’s Mannequin song, it was instant nostalgia. The entire set was a perfect mix of nostalgic Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin songs with a few newer tracks thrown in along with the live debut of “Stars”. Although the music was amazing, as is always the case with seeing Andrew live in any form, it was his positivity that was the icing on the cake and made the set what it was. I know I talk about the connection bands have with their audiences a lot but there’s something so special about the connection that Andrew has with his fans. It’s a powerful thing and something that just has to be experienced in person. I just don’t have the right words to describe it. That support and connection definitely came in handy when the frontman surfed through the crowd on top of an inflatable llama. Unfortunately, he was dumped off said llama but the crowd quickly lifted him and the inflatable up separately and made sure they both made it back to the stage. The audience was able to make up for it as he tried again towards the end of the set and he was able to surf throughout the crowd and make it back to the stage without incident.
The audience was eating up every single word and every single moment of the Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness set in the perfect way possible. Even if you were like me and had come to the show alone, you felt loved by every single other person in the audience and felt far from alone. Sadly, it seemed like as soon as the hour-long set ended, so did that vibe. I don’t mean that people got mean or anything but more that there was a mass exodus out of the club. As mentioned, I was a bit surprised that Andrew McMahon wasn’t headlining this show so I really wasn’t surprised when I looked behind me and noticed a lot more open space throughout the venue as the stage was set for headliner Dashboard Confessional but it definitely broke my heart. Like Andrew and all his projects, Dashboard is one of those OG bands. They led the more tender side of the emo scene and did it with a sense of heart and passion. Although a lot of people seemed to have left, there was still a fairly full room when the band started and I instantly felt bad for anyone who had chosen to walk out the door.
Dashboard Confessional has been around since 1999 and even though they took a break for a couple of years in the early 10s, they remain at the top of their game. Much like many other bands from the era, Dashboard Confessional has had their share of line-up changes but vocalist Chris Carrabba has remained a constant and if you ask a fan, that’s all that matters. Chris is Dashboard Confessional. From his voice to his songwriting, he truly is the heart and soul of this influential band and I will never pass up a chance to see him perform. Much like the previous sets, Dashboard did a great job of playing old and new songs. They catered to everyone in the audience regardless of when you stepped into the Dashboard world and even gave a cover of “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure (with the help of Andrew McMahon) just in case you still couldn’t sing along to one of their songs.
Obviously, my favorite moments throughout their closing set were those quintessential emo songs like “Screaming Infidelities” and “Vindicated” but there wasn’t a moment throughout their sixteen-song set where my eyes weren’t glued to the stage and my head was in the clouds. Whether you knew the songs or not, you were falling for their every word and getting lost in the moment. That was the biggest takeaway from all three sets on Sunday night. Whether you were there to get lost in nostalgia, dragged there by your significant other, or just there to check it out, you left with a heart full of love and your head in the clouds and, with the crazy world we are all living in these days, can you really ask for anything else?