Written by Samuel Barker
Jun 12, 2004 at 08:00 PM
DashboardAnother year, another Civic Tour. This year the tour limped into town with one of the most stripped down set-ups to date. Last year there were X-Box booths, stereo demos, cars and much more. This year there was a giant plastic car, one real one and a few vintage video games. (Ms. Pac-Man and Galaga) This was a bit of a letdown as I made my way inside for the real feature of the day, Dashboard Confessional and Thrice.Headlining the entire tour is Dashboard Confessional. Say anything you like about Chris Carrabba, but few musicians have a devoted following such as his. Opening the set alone on his acoustic, Carrabba led the audience though Swiss Army Romance stopping momentarily to let the audience do what they do best, sing the words back to Carrabba with the emotion of someone hopelessly devoted to another. This is what makes it all come together.

Rather than sticking to the acoustic feel he did on this last visit to Houston, Carrabba brought out the electric early to add a bit more edge to the set, which worked better in the cavernous depths of Reliant Arena.

With the floor mostly empty and most of the fans stationed in the seats on the sides of the arena, the mood was that of being in a cave surrounded by mysterious lights (cell phones) and numerous voices filling the night with songs just as well as any band could. It was definitely something to behold. Few bands captivate their audience like Carrabba.

ThriceOpening the show was Thrice. A veteran to the Warped Tour and known mostly for their screamy mix of metal and punk, Thrice abandoned their edge for this night with Dashboard Confessional and stuck mostly to their more lax songs from Artist In The Ambulance. While those familiar missed the edge of a normal Thrice set, those who were new to the band seemed to enjoy the sound that fit the night.

Midway through set opener, Killing Moon, the bassist Eddie Breckenridge lost his bass signal, dropping out of the sound and sending technicians running. To compensate for the short-term loss of bass, lead vocalist/guitarist Dustin Kensrue took up his acoustic guitar to do an off-the-cuff cover of Elvis Costello’s Radio.

The cover added a bit of light to some of the inspiration for Thrice’s new direction. Now songs are accompanied by piano and keyboards rather than played with blazing guitars. Sure, it will alienate some of the old fans, but will only make the band have more appeal and possibly earn some long-tern remembrance.

With the small crowd and sparse set-up, it seems that we may be losing the Civic Tour soon. While some will applaud its loss, it will be a sad moment for fans of commercial punk/emo/indie pop bands who headline it. Hopefully they regroup and become stronger for next year. We’ll have to wait and see.