Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Saosin and The Early November at Concord Pavilion in Concord, CA on July 12th, 2016
It was a blast from the past of sorts at Concord Pavilion on Tuesday night as the stage was set for the Bay Area stop of the Rockstar Energy Drink Taste of Chaos Tour. With a lineup of The Early November, Saosin, Taking Back Sunday and Dashboard Confessional, I could close my eyes and imagine myself at a show in high school. While fans were filing in, someone yelled, “Who’s playing Pokémon right now?!” and for a quick moment, I actually pondered what year it was.
Before I could get too caught up in remembering the past, The Early November took the stage. Faced with the tough task of starting off the night, they brought high energy to get the growing crowd going. They started the night by bringing us back to 2006 with a rendition of “Decoration” off their second full-length album and continued with several songs off their 2012 effort In Currents. Not forgetting their OG fans, they played arguably one of their most recognizable hits “Ever So Sweet” before closing the set with some music off their most recent album released last year.
The throwback Tuesday vibes continued between bands as the pavilion’s sound system played several songs that dominated the airwaves in the ‘90s including “Baby Got Back” and “Waiting for Tonight.” When the opening lyrics of the Backstreet Boys hit “I Want It That Way” began, the crowd couldn’t hold back from singing along to every word.
The singing made way to cheering as the lights dimmed and smoke filled the stage. When Saosin lead singer Anthony Green emerged and violently heaved his microphone stand in the air, the fans’ excitement of seeing him front the band for the first time since 2004 was palpable. His throaty, guttural screams nearly shook the venue as the band started the set with "Racing Toward a Red Light" off Saosin’s first full-length album Along the Shadow, which was released in May and marked the end of a three-and-a-half year hiatus.
In true Anthony Green fashion, he stomped across the stage, spit and sweat flying with every movement. As if it wasn’t already clear by his performance, he took a moment to tell the adoring crowd, “God I love playing live music.” You would never have been able to guess that the band hadn’t performed together live in years as Green lead them through several hits off the new album including “The Silver String,” “Illusion & Control” and “Old Friends” before taking it old school with “Seven Years” off their 2003 EP to close the set.
As the sun was starting to set, the lights dimmed and the opening music to “The Lion King” began to play. With a huge American flag as their backdrop, Taking Back Sunday came out, inciting a roar from the crowd. The band didn’t waste any time, jumping into “Cute Without the ‘E’” and “Liar (It Takes One to Know One)” off a couple of their earlier records. The nostalgia of the night was not lost on lead singer Adam Lazzara, who took a moment to remind the crowd of their history together: “I was there when you got your drivers license. I was there when you were discovering your bodies in the back of your daddy’s car.”
Using up every inch of the big stage, the band covered all the bases by playing at least a song from nearly all seven of their albums. Compared to the front man before him, Lazzara had a softer presence, spending most of the set at the microphone center stage. After leading the crowd through a journey of their musical past, they finished off the set with their biggest hit “MakeDamnSure,” to no one’s surprise or disappointment.
Despite the stacked lineup, the fans still had a ton of energy left as headliners Dashboard Confessional came out to close the night. Donned in a white tee, jeans and Toms with guitar in tow, lead singer Chris Carrabba quickly reminded us of his vocal ability as they kicked off the set with chart topper “Vindicated.” When Carrabba asked if they could play something old, the crowd vehemently approved as they hopped into a version of “The Swiss Army Romance” off their debut album.
For the first time all night, the group slowed it down with acoustic renditions of “Carry This Picture” and “Remember to Breathe.” Carrabba showed off the incredible pipes he has become known for, hitting all the high parts so cleanly and holding notes that rivaled some of the female powerhouses of the same time period. The band returned to give the song an epic finale and kept the high tempo up for several tunes off Dashboard’s middle albums.
Slowing it down again, Carrabba started playing “Screaming Infidelities” with just his guitar serving as background music. The band joined in again mid-song before Carrabba pointed the microphone into the crowd and the fans happily obliged to sing the final words. Keeping the nostalgic feeling of the night in mind, they performed part of Coldplay’s “Fix You” before stealing the fans' hearts to close the set.
Appearing back on stage for an encore, Carrabba brought us back to the here and now, making a plea to the crowd that all lives matter. “I don’t know why it has to be a thing now that we have to be brave enough to go to a show,” he said. “Let’s try to do a better job taking care of each other.” After the sobering moment, the band confirmed what it was clear many of the fans felt as they thrust their cell phones into the air and sang along; it was “Hands Down” one of the best concerts they’ve ever seen.