Pop Break Live: Counting Crows ‘Banshee Season Tour ’23’ with Dashboard Confessional at the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles, CA
With co-headlining tours on the rise and nostalgia always a big treat, Dashboard Confessional and Counting Crows stopping by the YouTube Theater in Los Angeles felt like a perfect fit. Luckily for the crowd in LA, both bands assured that a steady back catalog doesn’t mean either would be resting on their laurels.
Emo legends Dashboard Confessional took the stage first at the sold-out YouTube Theater, and it immediately felt like the venue and everyone inside transported back to 2002. Led by the charismatic Chris Carrabba, the band tore through a barrage of classic hits and even a few newer tracks that prove DC is still making great music. Kicking off the set with the infectious singalong “Don’t Wait,” Carrabba managed to sound just as pitch perfect as he did 20 years ago. Drummer Chris Kamrada and bassist Scott Schoenbeck kept the energy high during classic songs like “The Sharp Hint of New Tears,” “Again I Go Unnoticed,” and “Stolen.”
Carrabba introduced a new track called “Burning Heart” released in 2022 on All The Truth That I Can Tell – a song that Counting Crows’ own Adam Duritz helped Carrabba work through during the pandemic. Chris began the song with only his acoustic guitar before each member of his band gradually joined; from there, the song and emotion grew simultaneously in a beautiful crescendo. The highlight of the set was undoubtedly “Screaming Infidelities” bringing the whole crowd to their feet and lighting up the venue with their phones. Before ending their set, Carrabba reflected on taking his kids to school and sitting in carpool only a few weeks before, questioning if he still “had it.” He remarked that the love from the crowd made him feel vindicated just before starting the classic track most famous for appearing in Spider-Man 2, “Vindicated.”
After Dashboard Confessional awakened the crowd, Counting Crows played a nearly 90-minute set broken into classic electric and more intimate acoustic tracks, as well as few unexpected covers. The performance felt like a mini-anniversary celebration for the Crows’ now-30-year-old record, August and Everything After; the band played six tracks from the seminal record and fans were especially delighted during “Mr. Jones,” “Omaha,” and “Time and Time Again.” The colorful stage lights elevated the production level to something more suited for a stadium as singer Adam Duritz took command of the stage and crowd, swinging his microphone stand around and walking up to the edge to greet fans.
As big as the band felt both in sound and number – there were at least seven guys onstage at a time – it was during the more stripped-back and intimate moments of the show that the Crows’ discography really stood out. Duritz took the stage alone for a haunting rendition of “Colorblind” that, again, sounded just as good as it did when it was prominently featured in the 1999 cult classic Cruel Intentions. “Angels in the Silences,” a typically upbeat and vibrant track, transformed into something softer and more melancholic when played during the acoustic portion of the set. A few other notable acoustic moments included “Rain King” and “Round Here,” which again leaned into more August and Everything After love.
In addition to the acoustic portion of the show, the most surprising addition to the setlist were all the fun and unexpected covers. In addition to the nostalgic and folksy “Blues Run the Game” cover by Jackson E. Frank, Duritz and the crew performed an acoustic version of Taylor Swift’s “the 1.” Chris Carrabba even joined the Counting Crows for the Dashboard Confessional cover “So Long, So Long” – a song that brought the whole crowd to its feet and kicked off a stellar and unforgettable encore of “Hanginaround” and “Holiday In Spain.” It was such a pleasure to witness both artists – Dashboard Confessional and Counting Crows – not only joyfully collaborate, but remain as charismatic and engaging as they did decades ago. A reasonable worry fans might have seeing bands many years past their peak popularity is that they might sound stale live and have their best years behind them. But that worry is unfounded with Dashboard and the Crows; they still sound as great as ever.
In a time of countless co-headlining tours coming to town and legacy acts returning to the road, put your money on Counting Crows and Dashboard Confessional. They’re still making engaging music from the heart and refusing to rest on their laurels when performing live; these guys still know the meaning of stage presence and putting on a great show. You don’t want to miss them when they come around next.