On July 14, Bud Light will host the inaugural installment Bud Light Getaway, a daylong, multi-genre salute to summertime (and, course, cold beer) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina. Headlining the event will be Sam Hunt, Lil Jon, Harry Hudson and Dashboard Confessional, whose frontman, Chris Carrabba, talked to Billboard about the new concert.
After releasing Crooked Shadows, their first album in nine years, the early-2000s emo-rock legends have been touring feverishly. Friday marks the end their two-month-long national We Fight tour alongside Philadelphia natives Beach Slang and Kississippi, but they are not slowing down this summer. “Our favorite time the year is always summer,” Carrabba told Billboard. “That is when people come to shows ... outdoors in fun settings with a cold Bud Light and some great music. I’m not sure what more you could want.”
This feel-good summer attitude is reflected in Crooked Shadows, especially in the carefree road-trip anthem “Belong.” It’s easy to picture a crowd singing along to the single, the lyrics quite literally describing what Bud Light Getaway is all about: “Feel the wind blowing in your hair/ The sun on your face and a song in the air.” This track may have come as a surprise to some longtime fans, who fell in love with the angst-ridden outpourings “Vindicated” and “Saints and Sailors,” but Carrabba is adamant that “there’s always been a celebratory nature to the band’s] music.” He explained that “some the songs are sad, but most them are not. And they’re mostly anthems.”
Carrabba, who “grew up listening to country and metal and hip-hop and indie rock,” feels comfortable in the multi-genre lineup because “that’s the way people listen to music now and frankly have been for a really long time -- although, it’s really more obvious now than ever.” The festival setting only amplifies this melting-pot mentality, allowing the band to perform with “an unbridled joy because that’s what people come to festivals for.” He even went as far as to say that at festivals, the band feels “empowered to maybe let loose even more than we might in our own show.”
As for what festival attendees can definitely expect this summer, two words came up repeatedly: guitar solos. “I play more guitar solos,” said Carrabba. “I don’t know how that translates into anything, but I play more guitar solos when we do festivals.”
What can’t be nailed down, however, is the set list. In his two decades performing with Dashboard Confessional, Carrabba has learned how to read the room in which he’s playing (“or the field”) and this skill has become integral to his performances. While “the worst-kept secret in our Dashboard lore is that all we put up on the set list] is the songs we played yesterday,” Carrabba confirmed that this list “by no means is what we’re going to play.” Instead, he uses the list as “just a template and then I'll start to play whatever I feel like playing. Or ... whatever the room feels to me like they want to hear.” He’ll ten change what he is playing mid-song, and he acknowledges the effect this malleability has on his bandmates: “When I think I’m gonna play ‘Belong’ and somebody screams 'Stolen,' I just start playing ‘Stolen.’ And my bandmates go, ‘Oh, Jesus, this again?’ And they have to very quickly adapt to the moment with no warning.”
Heavy audience engagement is just another way Dashboard Confessional commits to inclusivity and unity, especially on Crooked Shadows. There is a notable shift in pronouns since his earlier lyrics, “I” being steadily replaced with “we,” and Carrabba noted that this was “a conscious decision.” Referencing the current political climate, he said, “This is a time where because things are so polarized, ... we should start thinking about ‘we’ and not ‘I.’ I think ‘we’ as a grand construct is necessary right now.”
Carrabba has been embodying this notion “we” since the beginning his career, always making a point playing with women, touring with them and recording with them. Like the majority his records, Crooked Shadows features women; Lindsey Stirling and Chrissy Costanza both contribute vocals. “I gain as much as playing with female musicians as I do with playing with male musicians,” he said. “What I look for is good people that are good musicians.”