The local boy made good is one of the ten stories that never get old. While nearly every media outlet in the western world has devoted a profile to Dashboard Confessional singer/guitarist Chris Carrabba's dramatic rise at the turn of this century from frontman of mildly popular Boca Raton emo punk band The Vacant Andys to acoustic emo kingpin - it was always in an alternative rock context. You could paint A-B-C and see Carraba playing with Weezer at Red Rocks. Opening for Bon Jovi, the biggest hair metal band of all time, however is a different story.
But then Bon Jovi today, are not your spandex-wearing uncle's Bon Jovi. They've cut their hair, lost the makeup, broadened their sound, been profiled on 60 minutes, and their embrace of New Jersey and liberal populism only rival's Jon Bon Jovi's neighbor, Bruce Springsteen. Because of this, they've remained one of the few bands in the world that continue to pack arenas - despite the death of the music business.
Likewise, Carraba's new outlook is to turn it up to 11 and call upon the gods of rock who have remained vital. Tom Petty, Neil Young and Springsteen are name checked in the first sentance of DC's bio for their fifth record, Alter The Ending. "How does it work for them?" He wonders a couple sentances later, "What were they holding on to, and do I hold on to that as well?"
If you judge his success by the reviews they are mixed between: fans wanting to hold on to Carraba's 20s, folks who like - but don't love - his new direction, those who always hated what he's had to offer, and those who ridicule the production qualities (read orchestral work and tympani) fellow power popper Butch Walker brought to the table. But Dashboard Confessional was never about the reviews or the haters. Carraba and his supporting cast are about the fans. No matter what happens, there will always be girls singing along to "Screaming Infidelities" or his new video, "Belle of The Boulevard" wherever Dashboard plays. It will be interesting to see if Dashboard's mojo works in such a mainstream concert enviornment. But hey, once you've sang the theme song to a Spiderman flick, it's hard to get much more mainstream than that.