LIVE REVIEW: Counting Crows, Dashboard Confessional (07.15.23)

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LIVE REVIEW: Counting Crows, Dashboard Confessional (07.15.23)

For the first time this summer, a sin, to be sure, I headed out to one of my favorite spots in the city. With a view of the harbor and great views from any seat, last Saturday night, the Leader Bank Pavilion was home for a night to longtime emo favorites Dashboard Confessional. And this little band you might have heard of called Counting Crows closed out the night. Frontman of the latter  band, Adam Duritz himself, introduced the band’s performance with the words, “Seriously, is this not the greatest fucking band in the world?” And from the immediate excitement from the crowd as the band took the stage, I’m sure all would agree. Dashboard Confessional first began back in 1999 and, with a brief hiatus from 2011-2015, has maintained a cult following through all those years, and it was clear that their presence was known in the crowd that night. 

Leading the band on stage was drummer Chris Kamrada (a long-time musician as well, be it his eleven-year tenure in There for Tomorrow amongst several other acts), and the legendary band followed his lead. Almost immediately, vocalist Chris Carrabba made his first interaction with the crowd, setting the tone for the magical evening to come for those in attendance. Saying, “Boston, I have a question. If I sing something to you, will you sing it back to me?” the band moved into the night’s first track with “Don’t Wait.” The second the first notes hit, it was clear how the performance would go that night. 

Throughout the set, those there for Counting Crows intermittently made their way to their seats during the performance, but it swiftly became evident who was there for Dashboard and Dashboard only. From the girl sitting behind me with her fiancee who said right before it began, “I’m in love with Chris Carrabba, and I won’t feel bad for it,” jumping out of her seat the second the band walked on stage. A sea of people in the crowd quickly joined her the second the opening track of the set hit and continued to show their love for the long-time band unabashedly. 

There were clear pockets of fans in the crowd that loyally sang every word back to the band, and likely, the most prominent VIPs in the crowd for the band were quickly acknowledged by Carrabba. Carrabba said, “After three weeks away, my kids arrived here from summer camp,” pointing into the crowd’s front. They continued to be a focus for the band throughout the set, with Carrabba appearing to give them his pick and Kamrada handing his drumsticks to the same person. Or talking about Carrabba’s family in general, “I have a lot of family in this group. I can tell because they’re sitting.” 

To the fans in attendance’s delight, Carrabba continued to balance the music with some serious interaction with the crowd. Cruising through moments like “Saints and Sailors,” dedicating “Belong” to his kids, “Everybody Learns from Disaster,” and new track, “Burning Heart,” the vibes stayed strong throughout the night. With the band being the only opener of the night, fans were treated to a solid hour of a set, which isn’t typically something you see from openers. But there were no complaints from the crowd. Before beginning “Burning Heart,” Carrabba said, “But it only gets harder to write music, as you go, it’s true.” He spoke about how he had asked for advice from Counting Crows’ frontman Adam Duritz about the track, and Duritz’s advice? Simply, why don’t you just start?” The rapport was evident between the acts, with Duritz introducing the band and later Chris joining the Crows during their encore, but artists that support other artists are the ones who we see still sticking around. 

Around this time in the set, the band soared through some of the biggest tracks in the band’s discography. And throughout these moments, it’s clear how Carrabba’s voice is getting richer and richer with age. Stunning performances of “Screaming Infidelities,” “Stolen,” and “Vindicated” quickly followed each other, which brought the voices to an ultimate high from the crowd in attendance.  Despite the hits parade that commenced, Carrabba still found moments to engage with the crowd. When introducing “Stolen,” he went, “Let’s do a love song called ‘Stolen’” and had the crowd swooning when he pointed to the crowd as he sang the line, “You have stolen my heart.” 

As the set slowed to a halt, Carrabba introduced his bandmates to huge cheers from the crowd and ended his introduction with, “Along with you, we’re Dashboard Confessional.” The band then broke into the long-loved “Hands Down” before blowing a kiss to the crowd, with the band leaving the stage quickly after.  This beauty of a set from Dashboard has had me reminiscing about the wild performances that the slow return to touring has allowed Boston and this writer to experience, with some incredible solo gigs from artists like Greg Barnett, vocalist of The Menzingers who just announced something like their fourth North American tour since the world started re-opening to Oli Baxter of Broadside opening a non-sold out show with a solo performance. But Dashboard’s performance was something that I won’t forget for a long time. When writing this review, I also learned about Carrabba’s motorcycle accident in 2020. One that put Carrabba in the hospital with serious injuries, having to go through physical therapy to walk again and pick up that guitar again. And now they’re here. The endurance it takes for anyone to play an hour set, let alone after the hard work that Carrabba and his band have done to be able to tour and perform again. It was a beautifully still, intimate set despite being at a space holding 5,000, which seemed to resonate with both the band and the fans. 

Following Dashboard’s set, Counting Crows was simply an act one couldn’t miss. And it was, weirdly enough, my first time seeing the band play. My expectations for the band were blown away by the time we hit “Mr. Jones,” a track that came surprisingly early into the set. First hearing about Counting Crows when they took out a long-time favorite in Augustana, it quickly became apparent why the band has continued to take out bands in the routes of Dashboard, Augustana, and Maroon 5 throughout their careers. While the party energy was apparent almost immediately, and the overwhelming smell of the ganja making its way through the air,  the band broke out hits early like “Mr. Jones.” But the highlight for me in my first Crows gig was the stunning performance of “Colorblind.” The once raucous crowd immediately went into silence as the band delivered an out-of-a-movie rendition of the longtime hit for the band. This incredible moment was followed by the first interaction with the crowd by Duritz simply saying, “Hey, how are you? Yeah, me too,” as the crowd audibly swooned and gave a massive round of applause. Followed up by saying, “Throughout the evening, I will say pepperless things like that. Because I have no other interesting thoughts to make. Just surprise stuff like that.” 

As the band continued through the set with tracks like “Butterfly in Reverse” and “Omaha,” it became clear why this band has continued to have such a chokehold on their fans. And it became clear why the Crows have picked acts as aforementioned to join them on the road. Counting Crows are a multi-faced band whose music transcends any past expectations of the band going into a live performance. And it’s clear why this band continues to be such a legacy act. I’m ashamed it took me as long as it did to see a set from the band. Considering the length of the band’s career, I was not shocked that certain tracks ignited so much love in some people’s hearts in the crowd while others, at some points, chattered throughout. There is no one particular genre that the band fits into.  The songwriting and musicianship shine through while remaining a band that makes for a party. It was reminiscent of bands like The National regarding the live performance, and only in the best ways. 

While I had to leave early, it was a school night. I returned to the venue the next night for Sad Summer Fest. The soundtrack to my walking out of the venue was the beautiful “Round Here.” It was a great note to end the night of two humid yet fantastic performances.

About Author


Colleen has been writing about music since 2009. Interviewing bands since the glory days of Warped and has continued to do so for now over fourteen years. As well as doing freelance for other publications, the love for everything rock continues today.