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POP MUSIC REVIEW

A Confessional with conviction

But something in Chris Carrabba's riff on love, hope and pain suggests that more was left unspoken.

July 15, 2006|Steve Hochman | Special to The Times

"No one has ever felt anything as deeply as what I'm feeling right now."

Chris Carrabba -- the young Florida man at the center of the band Dashboard Confessional -- never sang those words in the group's Gibson Amphitheatre concert on Thursday. Likely he never has.

But that remains the underlying tone of most everything he does, with such lines as "I could die for the words that you say" (from the 2003 song "Ghost of a Good Thing") typical of the night's fare. Heck, even Morrissey at his most self-absorbed (that's redundant) has used Wilde-ian wit to add some perspective. Not the Dashboard man. Regardless, it makes him the perfect artist for the Blog Era, in which so many seem engaged in semi-public competition over whose love/pain/hope/despair is most intense. As always at Dashboard shows, most audience members sang along yearningly on nearly every word, even on songs from the new "Dusk and Summer" album.

Carrabba's engaging manner and personable presence have grown along with his audience. With strong backing from varying combinations of his band members (guitarists John Ralston and John Lefler, bassist Scott Schoenbeck, violinist Susan Sherouse and drummer Mike Marsh), his music Thursday was much more richly textured than on record, a reworked older "Remember to Breathe" and filled-out new "Don't Wait" approaching U2-ish grandeur.

His limitations were evident, though. As a writer he's a master of the freeze-frame but lacks a flair for narrative or fleshed-out characters. Add those and he could be his generation's Jackson Browne.

Opener Ben Lee was a marked contrast, the impish Australian's charm and self-deprecation conveying his emotional insights.

Second-billed Say Anything (expanded from Angeleno Max Bemis' one-man project to a full band) showed much promise in an ambitious approach that almost sounds like Blink-182 via Ziggy Stardust.

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