I can place myself to the exact moment when I first learned of Dispatch. It was around 2003 and there were lots of acoustic-based singer songwriter types clogging up the radio stations. But one day, skipping class a friend played me “The General” and I stopped him and had to ask, “Who is this?”. It was unlike anything going on at the time in that genre. And then I was exposed to more songs like “Bats In The Belfry”, “Open Up”, Hey, Hey”, “Passerby” and so many more. Their blend of acoustic songwriter music, reggae, rock, vocal harmonies, and world music was just so compelling, and to add to all of that there was this great storytelling behind the music. And if you were one of the lucky ones to see them live during their original tour it was quite the impressive show. The band consists of Brad Corrigan, Pete Francis, and Chad Stokes all performing vocal duties and were often seen switching instruments and keeping the energy high. Oh and they did all of this without any support from a major label.
The band put out four albums across the span of four years, Silent Steeples, Bang Bang, Four-Day Trials, and What Are We Living For?, all showing the progression of the band musically. As songwriters, they’ve always had a knack for narrative lyrics, often telling a story from either the first or third-person perspective. Take the song “Prince Of Spades” that plays out like a short Shakespeare play, perfectly falling into the chorus that unifies the theme of the song. There are many other songs that follow this narrative, “Elias” and “Questioned Apocalypse” being two other ones that tell a story so fluid. Shortly after their 2000 album, What Are We Living For?, the band announced that they would be taking indefinite hiatus. The band staged a final show for their fans at Boston’s own Hatch Shell on the Charles River. The concert was called “The Last Dispatch” and it holds the record for the largest concert in independent music history with an estimated total audience of 166,000 forcing the police to shut down Storrow Drive. The performance was released as a dual CD/DVD set titled All Points Bulletin and later documented in the movie The Last Dispacth, a film that showed the twelve days leading up to the show.
After the break up all three members continued to make music, with Stokes forming the band State Radio and Corrigan and Francis following solo careers. In 2007, the band announced that they were planning a show at New York’s Madison Square Garden where all the proceeds of the ticket sales would be donated to various charities in Zimbabwe. During the first half hour of their presale the show was sold out, so the band added another, which then sold out in 24 hours causing them to add yet another date. Then in 2011 they posted new tour dates on their website and embarked on a short US tour. After the tour and throughout the rest of the year the band released videos showing them rehearsing new songs and photos of them in the studio. In May 2011 they released a new EP and within hours of it’s release it shot to number 2 on iTunes. Clearly the public’s demand to see this band return was high and for good reason.
The band will come to the the Agganis Arean at Boston University on October 10. They are touring in support of their new album Circles Around The Sun which you can stream for free on their website. And which I would also like to add is quite good, I personally like “Flag”, “Josaphine” and ” Feels So Good”. Also you can grab tickets to their show in Boston as well as other places in this big land right here.
Here’s a video from their famous Hatch Shell show of one of their most popular songs “Elias”