‘Places You Fear’ reveals pain
with unflinching directness

By Jason Genegabus

Since its release in March of last year, Dashboard Confessional's sophomore album, "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most," has kept frontman Chris Carrabba busy traveling around the country reliving the pain of a failed relationship on a nightly basis. And by all accounts, he's more than happy to oblige.

"There were things in my life in the last few years that weren't so easy," Carrabba explained in Spin magazine's February issue. "So I picked up my guitar and wrote these songs thinking only my friends would hear them. I found out that there are more people I could trust with my feelings than I thought."

Sound off

Dashboard Confessional:

Where: World Cafe
When: 7 p.m. today; doors open at 6 p.m.
Tickets: $20, all ages
Call: 591-4450 or 526-4400 to order tickets by phone.

The 27-year-old singer-songwriter from Boca Raton, Fla., wraps up his American tour at World Cafe with an all-ages show at 7 p.m. today. "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most" continues to gain popularity with a wider audience, selling more than 330,000 copies and spending three weeks at No. 1 on the Billboard Heatseekers Chart earlier this year. Not bad for an album based on a few songs originally recorded just for family and a few close friends.

After listening to "The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most," it's hard to believe Dashboard Confessional is a progression of Carrabba's punk rock background and skater influence. Formerly part of the bands Further Seems Forever and The Vacant Andys, Carrabba started Dashboard Confessional with just a guitar and a few songs to help get him through a difficult time.

"All the feeling behind (the songs) comes from personal experience, and then the story takes a turn by itself," he told the Palm Beach (Fla.) Post. "But a few (songs) are purely autobiographical." The music, described by some as emo-core (emotional hardcore) or acoustic punk, is characterized by its stripped-down sound and focus on the pain of an ended relationship.

But Dashboard Confessional's most die-hard fans are also the ones who crave depth in the bands they listen to; these people want to hear music that matters, not a sugar-coated song that's been manufactured for general consumption. The unflinching directness of Carrabba's lyrics on this album paint a heart-wrenching picture of the grief that follows a breakup.

In the song "Standard Lines," for example, he wonders "Which of the standard lines will we use ... your taste still lingers on my lips like I just placed them upon yours and I starve for you / But this new diet's liquid and dulling to the senses / And it's crude but it will do."

And in "The Brilliant Dance," Carrabba captures the feeling of hopelessness with lyrics like "And nobody cares at all / And the picture frames are facing down and the ringing from this empty sound is deafening and keeping you from sleep / Well, you'd like to think that you were invincible / Yeah, well weren't we all once before we felt loss for the first time."

Part therapy session and part summer-camp sing-along, tonight's concert should attract the same type of fans that have packed other venues around the country. These people don't buy tickets just to listen or hold lighters up during a Dashboard Confessional show -- instead, fans unapologetically belt out the lyrics karaoke-style while Carrabba accompanies them on guitar. And at times he'll even walk away from the microphone and sit playing at the edge of the stage as the crowd continues to sing every song word for word.

"They're there, all in that room singing along together, but the songs mean something so particular to each of them that it's theirs and no one else's," Carrabba said. "It's hard for me to sit there and play those songs and relive those feelings constantly ... but it's also rewarding and pacifying to have people sing them back. It makes those feelings hold less weight when you understand that they're universal."

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