Nostalgia hits different people in different ways at different times. Take, for instance, the sole SXSW show from Dashboard Confessional, the nom de rock of Chris Carrabba, an icon of early-aughts emo. His brand has always been cathartic singalongs of his teen-angst tales, and for longtime fans now in their 30s and 40s (Carrabba himself is 42), the release of singing at the top of your lungs about broken young love along with a devoted crowd can feel, well, confessional — in a wholly nostalgic sort of way.
Not so at SX, though: opening his Pandora-party set at the Gatsby with an acoustic version of “The Best Deceptions,” a favorite from the group’s breakthrough 2001 album “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most,” Carrabba was faced with an audience clearly nostalgic for him (the audience screamed like the crowd at a One Direction show when he took the stage), but not necessarily holding strong memories of the band’s catalog, or even its all-is-one its vibe: in fact, they seemed scared to sing along, a far cry from Dashboard’s heyday, when the band’s episode of “MTV Unplugged” was as keyed in on the audience as it was on the performers.
As Carrabba took vocal breaks in that first song where the audience would usually fill in the gaps, he looked visibly confused when met with near-silence rather than loud shouts. So by the song’s final refrain, Carrabba knew what he had to do.
“Let’s do this longer than usual,” Carrabba said, of the “you’re calling too late” repetition at the end. “And, maybe, a little louder.”
The audience finally and hesitantly allowed their collective voice to be heard — an unusual request especially at this year’s South By, which seems even more focused on the unfamiliar than usual. In fact, it took almost all the way through Dashboard’s set — during a full-band run-through of 2004’s “Vindicated,” and after a set peppered with new songs from the band’s newest album, “Crooked Shadows,” their first in eight years — for the crowd to let themselves sing-along full-bore, perhaps remembering that current hipster posing doesn’t always have to replace youthful exuberance, after all.