LIVE REVIEW: Dashboard Confessional @ KOKO, London (19/11/2018)

Credit: Promo

Date: November 19th 2018
Venue: KOKO, London
Support: Black Foxxes


UK punk duo Slaves recently caused controversy with a tweet explicitly stating that they refuse to post set times for their shows because they want people to come early and watch the support bands, instead encouraging fans to “turn up when your ticket says and you’ll be fine.” The sentiment is all well and good, except tonight is a perfect example as to why this message has caused contention.

Doors for emo veteran Dashboard Confessional opened at 7:00pm at the legendary KOKO, despite the first band not starting until an hour later, leaving a disgruntled crowd with nothing to do but stand around and pay £6 for a can of Red Stripe. Honestly, Slaves, it’s a nice idea, but it just doesn’t work on paper.

Thankfully, Black Foxxes [8] are well worth the wait. Frontman Mark Holley undoubtedly has one of the most unique voices on the scene, switching from hair raising screams to soft falsetto whilst deftly coaxing ear splitting wails from his guitar. Drummer Ant Thornton is manic too, coming alive during sublime single ‘Manic In Me’, before smokey slow-burner ‘River’ (introduced proudly by Holley as “the first song we ever wrote”) climbs to a gut-wrenching crescendo.

“We’ll come back to headline one day,” Holley promises, to a sadly mostly uninspired crowd who don’t really seem to connect with this band as they stand waiting patiently for the headliner. Still, the confidence isn’t entirely misplaced. Black Foxxes are one of the most interesting bands out there.

Dashboard Confessional [8] seem to have attracted an older crowd than is usually seen at trendy KOKO. It makes sense, given that the band were at their peak in the early 2000s, meaning that their fans are now mostly over 25 and reminiscing wistfully about typing their lyrics into brooding MSN names and MySpace bulletins. Ah, to be young again.

In any case, frontman Chris Carrabba has lost none of his impressive pipes. Emerging solo with an acoustic guitar for opener ‘The Best Deceptions’, he holds THAT note for so long that you wonder if he has a hobby as a free diver, drawing ecstatic cheers from the crowd.

Before long, the rest of the band join him on stage for the hooky ‘Vindicated’, and so begins a rollercoaster back to the early 2000s. Strangely, there’s almost no material from latest album ‘Crooked Shadows’, with the exception of the bouncy and defiant single ‘We Fight’, but, truthfully, this feels more like a greatest hits set than a promotional one. Carabba turns in a truly stunning performance, and shines on ‘The Places You Have Come To Fear The Most’, in a mini solo acoustic set half way through the show.

Towards the end of the set things get a little sentimental, as the palpable heartache of ‘Screaming Infidelities’ causes an emotive singalong, as does schmaltzy but sweet ballad ‘Stolen’. Unsurprisingly though, it’s ‘Hands Down’ that causes the biggest stir, with its textbook emo chorus sending everyone in the room back to high school for three blissful minutes.

It remains to be seen whether there’s any future classics in the new material, but for now, Dashboard Confessional are a glorious exercise in nostalgia.