Backbeat: Vagrant Founder Likens Country Music to Punk Rock at Dashboard Confessional Show
Backbeat: Vagrant Founder Likens Country Music to Punk Rock at Dashboard Confessional Show

Thursday's (Dec. 1) Dashboard Confessional show at NYC's Irving Plaza brought out an old-school "emotional" crowd, who belted along to every word of hits like "Vindicated" and "Screaming Infidelities" along with Chris Carrabba, Dashboard's sole mastermind.

The short run of acoustic shows saw Carrabba heading out solo, promoting a low-key EP of covers and road-testing just-written songs off his next album. Road-testing? Solo? Acoustic? Some artists would be intimidated, sure, but according to Rich Egan, Carrabba's longtime manager and the man who signed him to Vagrant Records ten years ago, Chris is not among them. After all, he's been baring his soul in the spotlight for a long time. Egan boasts that these new songs are among the best he's heard in a long time from Carrabba, who has long been pegged as a posterboy for the emo movement -- a label Egan says they've neither embraced nor railed against publicly.

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Egan, who traded his native L.A. for Nashville last year, is removed from the Vagrant world at the moment and working full-time in management, at his own Hard 8 Management. He works with the likes of Barenaked Ladies, Augustana and country-rock singer Brantley Gilbert, who co-wrote the Jason Aldean hits "Dirt Road Anthem" and "My Kinda Party." Discussing his work with Gilbert and an exposure to a world new to him -- country music -- Egan pointed out the similarities between country and his own bread and butter, old-school punk rock. How so? "Everything's about the fans," he says. "There's so much passion in both worlds."

So what exactly happens when a punk rocker heads to Nashville? Egan says he's never looking back, dishing tales of Nashville house shows (Paramore's Hayley Williams is amidst their frequenters, he says) and Taylor Swift pop-ins at Dashboard shows. Boy, those Nashville folks sure are friendly.