Hands down, I experienced one of the best shows at SummerStage on August 3rd. Okay, that was a corny joke, but in all seriousness, after all of these years Dashboard Confessional has still got it. In face, one can argue they are better than ever. Towing a stacked lineup, with support from The All-American Rejects and The Maine, this show was definitely one for the books.

Over the years, I’ve watched The Maine truly grow into their own. Their latest release, Lovely Little Lonely is their best work ever, and they are at the top of their game. Mixing in new songs like “How Do You Feel?” and “Bad Behavior” along with older fan favorites such as “Girls Do What They Want” and “Like We Did,” The Maine captured the interest of a crowd filled with nostalgia fans, which is a tall order. John O’Callaghan walked the stage with purpose and intensity, and anyone could see that he felt the music. “Isn’t it amazing to be alive?” He asked the crowd as they went into the aforementioned “How Do You Feel?” with the beautiful nature of Central Park as the scenery. The Maine is a band that brings good vibes to the table, and were a perfect choice to open the show.

The All-American Rejects were up next, and the anticipation was very evident in the crowd. It had grown double the size in the two hours since doors, and AAR fans new and old were ready to hear all the classics they loved growing up, along with newer hits. They wasted no time at all, coming out to “Dirty Little Secret.” The band walked out wearing suits of various colors, looking almost a bit demure. But that all changed when they felt the energy the crowd was emitting. They smoothly went throughout the next few songs, and then Tyson Ritter, lead singer and bassist, paused and asked who wanted them to throw it back to the very beginning, in 2002? The crowd’s screams echoed the venue and the band dove into “My Paper Heart” and “Swing Swing” off of their debut album. AAR were everything I wanted and more, the energy was fun, and they played a perfect mix of new and old, adding in “Sweat” and “Close Your Eyes,” the two songs off their newest EP.

Lastly, as the light finally died out int he park, Dashboard Confessional took the stage. It took me by surprise when the band opened with their hit “Vindicated” but the crowd almost expected it. It was amazing to see everyone yell the lyrics, overpowering singer Chris Carrabba. Another highlight of the set was the cover of “Love Yoursels” by Justin Bieber, leading into “Just Like Heaven” by The Cure. Hearing Carrabba’s voice with the haunting lyrics after playing the pop song was a nice juxtaposition. The band also played a new song, “Heart Beat Here,” which had all of the best elements of their classics but still felt current. Lastly, as an encore, they closed with “Hands Down,” and the crowd roared. And then Central Park closed and the nostalgia lived on. It was an awesome night!

Dashboard Confessional Tour Dates (w/ The All-American Rejects):

08/09 – Philadelphia, PA @ Festival Pier
08/10 – Vienna, VA @ Wolf Trap
08/12 – Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater
08/13 – Charlotte, NC @ Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
08/15 – Highland Park, IL @ Ravinia
08/16 – Indianapolis, IN @ Indiana State Fair