When I was a lot younger, I used to carry around this see-through file to school that featured an article about Dashboard Confessional winning the MTV2 Award for Screaming Infidelities (I believe I tore it out from the now defunct TONE magazine, for those who still remember WOW FM’s tie-in mag). Little did I know I would have the chance to be mesmerised by this man I paraded all over school many years later.
KL Live provided for an intimate solution for a fitting RockawayFest showcase, but a little downside to the venue would be the sound system. For an acoustic show I would have loved for the audio to be crisp and clear, not muffled up – making it sometimes difficult to catch the onstage banter and even more difficult to retain attention towards the opening act Awi Rafael. It was a subtle touch for Awi Rafael to open his set with a cover of Radiohead and even nicely fading out to it mixing well with his originals such as the catchy Pulanglah. It was evident he had to prolong his set for whatever reasons behind stage, and I felt I could have easily turned to the radio instead for Adele’s Someone Like You or Kings of Leons’ Use Somebody. Noting that Awi Rafael has certainly proved his talent covering songs by Kasabian or even Starsailor – he should have trusted that the audience would have appreciated songs with substance that do not get radio airplay. Props to his defying-gravity hair but overall an honest attempt.
Performing under the moniker of Dashboard Confessional, Chris Carrabba was quick to his feet (This will be the only mention of his feet, I promise) to put on a moving acoustic show that showcased his powerful range of vocals that never once wavered in over 60 minutes. The lack of a second guitar and drum beat would sometimes be missed, but it was prevailed by the heartbeat of a thousand mended hearts in unison that night. Completely at home in an unplugged atmosphere, Carrabba could be seen directing his voice away from the microphone at strategic points in a song to allow the audience to take over. Adding to his own mannerisms in every song, all I can say is: Screaming by a single man has never been so glorious.
I was actually keen on hearing a new song called Cold Comfort that our good neighbours in Singapore were lucky enough to preview. Alas, we were not given that privilege, instead we were compensated with gems such as Age Six Racer and Again I Go Unnoticed. The finger work during the cover of Cory Branan’s Tall Green Grass was a delight to watch, and the fact that Chris Carrabba hardly looked at his guitar made it all the more impressive. Constantly on his enthusiastic toes and zipping through an archive of decade-worthy songs, I daresay there was a lack of an ideal flow through the first half of the set. At one point the songs jumped from fast to slow paced songs but all was quickly forgiven when the slew of songs that followed Dusk and Summer started off with the perfectly calm Remember to Breathe building up to an almost chaotic Hands Down.
A big round of applause goes to Livescape for holding their heads up high and pulling this off, even after the events of Rockaway Festival 2011. The next RockawayFest showcase would feature Sum 41, and if it would mean another strong solid performance like this, then I simply cannot wait. The way Carrabba ended the night with The Best Deceptions, without even being aware of it – you could feel like a caring hand has crept up to your hands, comforting you that whatever you are feeling awful about, you will most certainly feel better once the song is over.