By MIKE CHAIKEN
When a band takes several years off so the members can pursue other passions, it’s not unheard of them to return to the fold with the edge a little dulled, the sparkle that made them great a bit lusterless, and a yawn caught in their throat as they focus on cashing a needed injection into their bank accounts.
But when Dashboard Confessional returned to its home state on June 12 at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods, the group led by West Hartford’s Chris Carrabba exhibited no signs of musical stupor. There was an eagerness that quickly evident when they ran onto the stage.
The show that followed their entrance crackled with energy. The vibe provided to the fans was positive and uplifting.
I’m sure it helped that the audience was filled with friends and family. It also helped that the audience was filled with fans who have been waiting since 2009 for the group to return to the stage.
There’s nothing like love and adoration to energize a band.
But I think the key was Chris and his band have found a way to have fun again.
In a phone interview, Chris noted that the band’s tours in its earlier days were grinds and wore the band down. And this isn’t unusual, once a band’s iron is hot, it’s tempting to do what you can to avoid the cool down. You keep touring. You keep releasing albums. Unfortunately, human nature is human nature. You grow tired. The ideas are harder to come by.
So a few years off also can help a band like Dashboard Confessional. It gave Chris a chance to find a love for music again by pursuing other projects. Twin Forks, which he now considers his great love, gave Chris a love for recording and playing again despite the constant touring. And his songwriting career has taken off, most notably when fellow Nutmegger Nick Fradiani took Chris’s “A Beautiful Life” to a big victory on “American Idol.”
Suddenly, thanks to Nick, Chris is a big deal on radio again. And this has won new fans curious as to the origins of this hit songwriter.
Although Nick’s career as a songwriter is breaking out, this time around at the Grand Theater, Dashboard Confessional opted not to try out any new material. He didn’t even attempt to offer up his own rendition of “A Beautiful Life.” Instead, they stuck to the fan favorites. Songs like “Vindicated,” which gave the band a hit, and “Hands Down,” with a story that still resonates with audience, earned loud rounds of applause and cheers. And the band played the songs with a verve that made you feel the songs were new again rather than some old chestnuts gathering dust in a catalogue.
At its Connecticut homecoming, Dashboard Confessional proved that, indeed, you can go home again. And it can help you rediscover the magic of your love.
I give Dashboard Confessional at the Grand Theater at Foxwoods Resort Casino on June 12 three and a half stars out of four.
By MIKE CHAIKEN