After arriving late and missing out on openers Ben Lee and Say Anything, I decided to console myself by indulging in a fatty order of overpriced garlic fries. As I stood in an extremely long line with other hungry fans, the loud, banging introduction of “Heaven Here” (from Dashboard Confessional's newest album, Dusk and Summer ) grabbed the attention of everyone in the venue. Suddenly all but three kids left the line and ran to their seats to find that the moment they were waiting for had arrived … Dashboard Confessional had taken the stage.

It was a very big production in comparison to the humble tours that DC played years ago. The lighting and placement of gigantic Chinese-style lanterns illuminated the stage in warm colors: red, blue, purple, and green. The backdrop became a silhouette of trees for most of the show and even changed the mood at one point with the simulation of a storm. The visuals added more depth to the already complicated content found in their music.

Chris Carraba presented himself to a full house, neatly dressed in a black polo with a lightning bolt on the left side of his chest, blue jeans, sneakers and that charming smile that wins over his huge fan base of teenage girls. It's a smile that says he's overcome all the heartache he sings about and he's willing to endure some more for the right gal.

He conveyed that sentiment clearly with the second song of the set “Rooftops and Invitations.” As he sang his song about truth, intrigue, trouble and also the good that may come as a pleasant surprise: “She just might get you lost / And she just might leave you torn / But she just might save your soul.”

New tunes like “Don't Wait” and “Secrets I've Been Telling,” obviously made it to the set list, but Carraba and company also managed to please hardcore fans with some pre-stardom tracks. The frontman reminisced with acoustic solo performances of “Swiss Army Romance” and “The Places You Have Come to Fear the Most.” As usual, fans did not fail to sing along to these songs .

Other old acoustic songs like “The Good Fight” and “Turpentine Chaser” were spiced up with Carraba's full band, putting a new twist on things. Big hits like “Vindicated,” and the perfect date song, “Hands Down” were saved for the encore.

During “For You to Notice,” Carraba requested that the audience hold up its cell phones. The crowd eagerly did, producing a sea of twinkling lights that lit up the room. The pretty boy lead singer of emo rock seemed pretty pleased to see all the faces that adored his band's music. The energy was reciprocated.

So despite all his tales of heartbreak, there is something that really draws a crowd to dig the emo rock that Carraba produces. The music is accessible and popular to the mainstream because there is a feeling of contentment or – better yet – happiness. The hope underlying his music is what really captures the comfort of his fans.

It was compelling enough for Carraba to add a few new lines to the song, “Remember to Breathe” that night: “Raise your hands in the sky / remember we'll be here forever / we'll be alright.” —Helena Ngo