Halfway through their set at the historic Red Rocks Amphitheatre, Taking Back Sunday frontman Adam Lazzara said what we all were thinking - “I know many of you are here for nostalgic purposes.” To an extent, it was true. Having grown up listening to the four bands on this year’s Taste of Chaos lineup (Dashboard Confessional, Taking Back Sunday, Saosin and The Early November) not only was this show the perfect excuse for me to finally catch a concert at Red Rocks for the first time, but it almost felt like a high school reunion. However when Lazzara continued, his words seemed to spark something inside of many of the twenty and thirty-somethings in the crowd. “We were there when you got your driver's license, we were there when you began to explore your bodies in the back of your dad’s car, when you did or did not go to college, and we’re not going anywhere.” As it turns out, we’re still those same emo teenagers at heart.
But long before Lazzara’s speech later that evening, the night kicked off just right with The Early November. I use the term “night” loosely, because the show started relatively early at 5:30 while the sun was still shining down on Red Rocks, but that didn’t deter many fans from showing up early and singing their hearts out. Just a little over a year ago, I caught The Early November at The Marquis Theater in downtown Denver, and seeing the band take the much larger stage in Morrison was a sight to behold. When you think Red Rocks Amphitheatre, you tend to think of top 40 artists, old school jam bands or Global Dance Festival, which would be taking over the park only a few days later, so to see a band who performed to a room of about three hundred people only a year prior was definitely surreal. Even more so was The Early November’s spectacular performance. Though fans were still filtering into the amphitheatre, the band played their hearts out to those who showed up early, even taking a song request because it was a very special night, after all.
Following The Early November’s performance was Saosin’s return to Colorado with frontman Anthony Green. To say that Saosin’s performance was chaotic would be an understatement. Seconds into taking the stage (and after admiring the beautiful view of the amphitheatre) Anthony Green was tossing his entire mic stand into the air before diving into the first lines of “Racing Toward a Red Light.” Throughout their performance, band members were all over the stage, constantly moving and providing fans with a high energy show that likely made them wish that they weren’t standing stationary on steps. A few songs in, Green began to eat what looked like gummy bears on stage, even tossing some into the mouths of fans in the front row of the crowd. Later in their set, the band also invited a few lucky fans on stage during “Seven Years.” Needless to say, this was the perfect way to welcome Anthony Green back to Colorado.
As the sun finally began to set, it was time for the two heavy hitting headliners, the first of which was Taking Back Sunday, who literally came out swinging. I mean, have you seen Adam Lazzara’s flawless mic swings? The band kicked off their set strong with fan favorite song, “Cute Without The E,” and within seconds, the crowd was screaming along with every word.
Having also caught Taking Back Sunday on their headlining tour last year, the difference between that performance and the band on stage at Red Rocks was night and day. Something was different about them, and in the best way possible. The band seemed not only excited to be on stage, but also looked fresh faced, energized and ready to take on the world. Proving that point was their high energy new song, “Tidal Wave,” which was received very well by the excited crowd. The energy on stage was contagious, and you could practically feel it in the crowd.
If you’ve never seen Dashboard Confessional live, then you may think it would be hard for them to follow up Taking Back Sunday’s high energy performance, but that wasn’t an issue for these headliners. Frontman Chris Carrabba is nothing but smiles on stage, his charisma and charm bleeding into his performance, and even during slower, sadder songs, it was hard not to smile and sing along.
Much like Taking Back Sunday, Dashboard Confessional wasted no time, kicking off their set with “Vindicated,” much to the excitement of their fans. Though there wasn’t quite as much banter in between songs as there had been during Taking Back Sunday, that left more time for Dashboard to play their hearts out. Throughout their set, it was impossible to find one single flaw. Not only did the band sound like a well oiled machine, but Carrabba’s vocals were absolutely flawless, as was the choir of voices singing his lyrics back to him. Just as they began their set, Dashboard Confessional ended on a high note with “Hands Down.”
While nostalgia was running high at Taste of Chaos, it was obvious by the end of the night that many fans, myself included were not simply there to relive our high school years and sing along to songs we used to love. We were there for the same reason those four bands are still on stage - because we love music. The night ended on high spirits, and I think it’s rather fitting to quote the closing song of Dashboard Confessional’s emotional set, “Hands down, this is the best day I can ever remember.”