Broward watched anxiously as the red blob on the weather map hovered ominously over Pompano Beach on Wednesday, May 16th. What was expected to be a torrential downpour, though, turned out to be nothing a few ponchos and that Old-Fashioned Floridian Spirit couldn't handle, as the crowd came in droves to the Pompano Beach Amphitheater. The tension in the air was strange. Not bad, not nervous, but definitely not your typical concert atmosphere. Everywhere you turned there were old friends joking around, schoolmates catching up; the ultimate Coral Springs reunion featuring the hometown bands they all watched make it big: New Found Glory and Chris Carrabba of Dashbaord Confessional.
The entire event was a fund-raiser for the official Broward Education Foundation Stoneman Douglas Victims’ Fund. The money from ticket sales, concessions, merchandise and sponsorships, venue space, and even the performances were all donated to the fund. Everyone involved in the event came together to raise as much money as possible for the victims and their families. There were even raffles sponsored by 104.3 The Shark with some awesome prizes including concert tickets and a signed guitar!
Maroon shirts, hats, and banners were prevalent among the crowd, as William Ryan Key, formerly of Yellowcard took the stage. While not a South Florida boy, Key is a Jacksonville native, and he felt the tragedy of Parkland just as strongly. Key started right at 6:30pm, playing five tracks off of his upcoming EP Thirteen, including “Vultures” and “Old Friends.” It was great to see Key back on the stage, and despite not fronting a band, he connected with the audience just the same with just his acoustic guitar. “I knew I couldn’t get away without playing this one for you guys,” he joked before strumming the opening chord of “Ocean Avenue” which finally had the crowd up and singing along.
Old Friends / Vultures / Form and Figure / Thirty Days / Great Unknown / Ocean Avenue
Chris Carrabba of Boca Raton took the stage, and asked for a moment of silence for the lives lost in the shooting. He then named each of the seventeen victims, and followed with a sorrowful rendition of Bob Dylan's “He Was a Friend of Mine” as a slideshow of their photos flashed behind him. People throughout the crowd were holding onto each other, and as Carrabba's voice cracked with emotion, it was hard not to tear up. While the world knows Carrabba as the frontman of Dashboard, the Gen X crowd of Broward remembers Carrabba exactly like this: on stage, with a guitar, performing his guts out. Every time Dashboard performs in South Florida, it is a homecoming show, but this performance felt different, raw, gritty, the true unplugged side of Chris Carrabba.
Chris took the time to banter with the crowd, but also to praise the students of MSD . “I’m proud to be from the same place they are from. I have no doubt they will succeed,” he told the crowd. “They’re doing the work that these old fuckers ought to be doing.” The set consisted of various Dashboard favorites ala acoustic, including “Vindicated,” “We Fight,” and “Screaming Infidelities.” A new song, “Heat Beat Here,” Chris had the audience sing along as loud as they could as he had microphones setup throughout the venue to capture their singing, and we're totally excited to see what comes from that. With emotions pretty high toward the end of the set, and tons of tears being disguised as raindrops in the crowd, a car drove by with loud bass that thumped loudly over the acoustics. “That's the most Florida thing that could ever happen right now,” he joked.
He Was a Friend of Mine (Bob Dylan cover) / We Fight / Carry This Picture / Vindicated / Stolen / Screaming Infidelities / Heart Beat Here / Hands Down
The members of New Found Glory took the stage sans instruments and addressed the crowd before their performance as guitarist Chad Gilbert read a letter to the crowd from the band. The letter touched upon how deep the tragedy effected the band as a whole. Vocalist Jordan Pundik and bass player Ian Grushka are MSD graduates themselves, but each member of NFG attended a Broward County school. The emotional letter described the band walking down those same halls, and how no one should have their youth stolen from them. “A very appropriate thing to do right here is have a moment of silence,” Gilbert concluded. “But since this is a concert, let’s make as much noise as possible for those who no longer have a voice.”
Returning to the stage just minutes later immediately jumping into “All Downhill From Here,” the crowd atmosphere shifted instantly, and everyone was on their feet jumping up and down and singing along. The band performed for well over an hour, playing well known hits like “Ready and Willing,” and “Head On Collision.” William Ryan Key had sneakily returned to the stage with NFG, taking place in the back handling keys and rhythm guitar. True to their pop-punk nature, NFG played various covers that had the crowd chanting and clapping to “Glory of Love” and “Eye of the Tiger.” Halfway through the show the band called a fan onstage to kick off the start of “Failure's Not Flattering,” and even performed the live debut of “Barbed Wire” off of 2018's Makes Me Sick Again. New Found Glory closed out the night with the super-appropriate “My Friends Over You” which had all of Coral Springs feeling super nostalgic and rocking like it was the early 2000's again.
All Downhill from Here / Understatement / Don't Let Her Pull You Down / Party on Apocalypse / Selfless / Glory of Love (Peter Cetera cover) / Anthem for the Unwanted / Barbed Wire (Live debut) / Failure's Not Flattering / Ready & Willing / Happy Being Miserable / Situations / Dressed to Kill / 3rd and Long / Call Me Anti-Social / Head On Collision / Hold My Hand / Sonny / Hit or Miss / Eye of the Tiger (Survivor cover) / My Friends Over You
New Found Glory
William Ryan Key