For a few short hours, Manhattan was transported back to the mid-2000s.
Dashboard Confessional and Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness’ co-headlining “Hello Gone Days” tour reached its New York City stop on Friday, Aug. 12 atop South Street Seaport’s Pier 17 venue. The sold-out show at the 3,400-capacity rooftop was comprised mostly of millennials who looked as if they experienced the popularity of these musicians two decades ago in real time. Both of their fandoms have endured throughout the years, with attendees across the age spectrum enthusiastically belting out the lyrics to both the hit singles and the deep cuts.
The reincarnated Armor for Sleep took the stage as the opening act at 6 p.m. on the dot. Hailing from New Jersey, frontman Ben Jorgensen noted how grateful he was for the opportunity to play this show close to home. While the band had not put out a full-length record since 2007, they reunited in 2020 and their first album in 15 years, “The Rain Museum,” is scheduled to come out on Sept. 9.
Their brief set was bookended by their two most popular songs — “The Truth About Heaven” and “Car Underwater” — both of which garnered a strong positive reaction from the contingent of fans parked up front, who cared as much about Armor for Sleep as they did the headliners. A majority of the setlist came from the band’s 2005 album What to Do When You Are Dead, the release which has remained their most popular through time.
Of the two headliners, McMahon’s slot came first, and his performance was the most electrifying of the night. Once the lead singer of bands Something Corporate and Jack’s Mannequin, he has performed under the solo moniker Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness since 2014. With a deep catalog, he performed his most popular material from all stages of his career, ensuring that songs from the far past could still be heard in 2022, even with those bands currently inactive.
McMahon’s energy as a performer throughout the night was unmatched. He kicked off his set with a rousing performance of “Bruised” from Jack’s Mannequin’s signature album “Everything in Transit,” released back in 2005. Even when at his sticker-laden piano, McMahon’s passion was palpable. He would further engage the audience later on, first by climbing on top of his piano and jumping off it, then surfing the crowd on an inflatable llama and again by entering the pit directly draped in a rainbow-lit cape during his final song.
New York City played a key role in McMahon’s career; he moved to Brooklyn to record “Zombies in Brooklyn,” his second solo album under the Wilderness moniker, and he paid homage to that stage in his life by performing the song “Love and Great Buildings” for the first time on this tour, explaining beforehand how it was inspired by his admiration for New York’s architecture.
His setlist perfectly captured his songwriting career, ranging from Something Corporate’s nine-minute fan favorite piano epic “Konstantine” to four songs from Everything in Transit to the Wilderness’ “Cecilia and the Satellite,” currently his most popular song on streaming services with 83 million plays on Spotify. The latter led to a heartwarming moment when McMahon brought out his daughter, the titular Cecilia, to sing on stage with him.
As the sun set and darkness enclosed the venue, Chris Carrabba and the rest of Dashboard Confessional stepped on stage at 8:30 p.m. It was just Carrabba and his acoustic guitar at first, introducing the group with stripped-down songs from his first two albums, which were recorded when Dashboard Confessional was still a solo project. In fact, the day-one fans were rewarded with a show that revolved almost entirely around Carrabba’s oldest works.
However, they still had some tricks up their sleeve. Right after Carrabba discussed how he and McMahon bonded on the tour over a mutual love of the band Counting Crows, their frontman Adam Duritz spontaneously appeared from stage left for an unprecedented performance of “So Long, So Long,” their duet from Dashboard Confessional’s “Dusk and Summer” album. McMahon made his own surprise return to the stage later on as he and Carrabba covered The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven”.
The love for Dashboard Confessional’s oldest material was evident even when he closed the set with “Vindicated,” a song that gave the band mainstream attention by being featured in the end credits of “Spider-Man 2.” “It’s a good song — but it’s not a great song,” a voice opined in the crowd. “It’s overrated.”
But when he came back for an encore to do “Hands Down”, the fans found it in them to scream the loudest they had all night. Some songs stay popular for a reason.