Okee dokee folks… I was fortunate to be in attendance for the Counting Crows/Dashboard Confessional show at Providence Performing Arts Center (PPAC) last night. The Crows were on their Banshee Season Tour and brought their friends along for the shows. To many folks this seemed like an odd pairing as one could not understand why it wasn’t considered a co-bill or that Dashboard Confessional was not the headliner. Honestly, I was not very familiar with Dashboard and only knew Counting Crows music, so it was all good with me!
Dashboard Confessional took to the stage with the beat of drummer, Christopher Kamrada. It was 7:30 and the seats had not yet filled in but I wasn’t sure if this was intentional. Some have a bad habit of avoiding opening acts. This I will never understand and I have seen many great opening acts, this being one of them. Their hour-long set was passionate and energetic. As I did not know the songs, and it was obvious that many folks did because I noticed them singing along. I asked my seat neighbor, who was also singing, about the songs. This young woman couldn’t believe I wasn’t familiar with the band and filled me in on the song titles and bits as the night progressed. I enjoyed the show somewhat vicariously through her as she was very excited about it. The lead singer, band leader I assumed, Chris Carrabba declared and was excited that his family was in attendance for the show. Carrabba went on to say: “You seem like a casual room” and welcomed singer Abigail Kelly back because she had been on a hiatus.The band’s set included songs such as, “Saints and Sailors” and “Burning Heart” which Chris said Adam of Counting Crows had some input on. Carrabba introduced the next song by asking “Should we do one we can all sing along to?” They went into “Screaming Infidelities”. A couple of songs later the band introduced the song, “Breathe” and the young woman next to me said, “This is a song that when you are feeling sad you take a ride in the car and blast it!” The audience was asked “How do you feel about love songs?” and “Stolen” followed in the set. Carrabba told us that they were “back in the Marvel Universe” because the next song they played, “Vindicated” was included in a new Marvel film. He introduced his “friends he gets to tour with” in the band and added that he had had the best day ever. They finished with the cut “Hands Down” and Carrabba spun his guitar around his body.
The young woman next to me excitedly said to me after the last song, “You will have to add Dashboard to your playlist now and I am sure you will become a huge fan.” I don’t have a playlist. I did enjoy their set, not as much as my energetic and enthusiastic neighbor did or the bulk of the audience. The band sounded great and I am sure If I connected with their music I would become a huge fan like her. I think it’s a generational thing. She was a twenty something and I am, well, ummm, older.
Counting Crows is closer to the music my age enjoys. I first saw them over 25 years ago at the Beacon Theatre in NYC. Ironically the band Cake, who were playing, and headlining, last night in Boston, were the opening act. You see, I enjoy opening acts! At that show I was unfortunately one of the few who did enjoy their set as the crowd was quite unruly towards the band that night. But with everything else, that is another story. At that show Adam Duritz came running onto the stage, jumped, landed wrong and sprained/fractured his ankle and proceeded to perform the entire show sitting on a stool. I saw them once more when they played the Ryan Center at URI. A show that Duritz referenced later in the evening at the PPAC show.
“Accidentally In Love”, a song they have not performed in years, began Counting Crows’ nearly two hour show. “If I Could Give All My Love” followed. They continued right into their career break song, “Mr. Jones” and then “Colorblind”. Afterwards Duritz yelled, “Hello, Providence!” and then continued “I have so many good memories of North Providence and Warwick, I had friends that went to Mount St Charles and LaSalle, but now we’re grown and have kids and don’t get to see each other much…today my girlfriend wanted coffee but I wanted a Del’s Lemonade! I remember when we played at URI there was a Del’s truck behind the venue and I got one and mixed tequila with it. It was FANTASTIC! Not that I am endorsing that! Anyway, here is another song about STUFF, it’s a song we hadn’t played in twenty years but now I want to play it every night!” That song was “Butterfly in Reverse”. The mandolin and accordion came out for “Omaha” from the first CD. Duritz was VERY chatty between songs and almost every song had a little story introduction. “Four Days”, “Catapult”, “God of Ocean Tides”, and “When I Dream of Michelangelo” led into their hit version of “Big Yellow Taxi” I can honestly say that the song performed as they did it at PPAC was MUCH better sans the annoying “Ooooooo, bop, bop, bop” Vanessa Carlton sang on the recording. “Round Here” had folks singing “Round here we stay up very, very, very, very late”. “The Tall Grass”, “Elevator Boots”, “Angel of 14th Street” and the epic Springsteen-esque, “Bobby and the Rat-Kings” followed. The set closed with two songs that had the audience joining in: “Rain King” and “Long December”, which featured Duritz on piano.
After a minute or two of fierce applause, the band returned for what would be a 20+ minute encore. “Time and Time Again” from August and Everything After began the mini set. Dashboard Confessional joined Counting Crows on stage bringing the musician count to thirteen to perform the next song by Dashboard, ”So Long, So Long”. A few members of Dashboard stayed on and sang “Hanging Around” from Counting Crows third album This Desert Life. Duritz said they were going to close with their version of a lullaby and the band played “Holiday In Spain” from the Album Hard Candy. When that song finished “ California Dreamin’” from the Mamas and Papa began to play over the speakers and Duritz jumped up on the monitor and began to sing and lead the audience in a sing-a-long for about half the song then exited.
Evidently the pairing of these two bands was not too far fetched or odd. Duritz told how they both were on the bill for Neil and Peggy Young’s Bridgefest concert a few years back and after that they worked together on music. I do think that some folks did just come for Dashboard Confessional and then leave before Counting Crows, I did see seats that emptied and stayed empty after their set. I know the young woman next to me was a bit antsy during the Counting Crows set but stayed nonetheless. Not all music is everyone’s cup of tea but sometimes you do discover something you like with an opening act, or, like in the rare case of attending a show just for the opening act, you might just like the feature, too. I certainly have seen my share of great opening acts who went on to be HUGE bands in later years. Just sit back and enjoy the music. Music is a good thing and it was air conditioned at PPAC!
That’s it for now. Follow my column and podcasts for more events as they are added over the summer! Stay cool. Don’t forget you can listen to my podcasts at: motifri.com/rootsreportpodcast. You can also find my concert photographs (Including the Dashboard/Crows show) at motifri.com/fuzeksfotos. Thanks for reading and listening. johnfuzek.com