Entertaining The Masses: The Return Of Dispatch

Dispatch, live at the Greek Theatre, Berkley, CA on June 11, 2011.

The triumphant comeback of a college radio favorite.

Dispatch: [from left] Chad Urmston, Braddigan and Pete Francis.

Every Labor Day weekend, The Dave Matthews Band hosts a three-day concert series at The Gorge Amphitheater in George. This year, Matthews and co. thought they would do something different. The Dave Matthews Band Caravan kicked off in Atlantic City in June, has traveled to Chicago and New York this summer and will conclude with the annual show at the Gorge.

In addition to the Dave Matthews Band, this year’s lineup includes such big names as The Roots, Gogol Bordello, De La Soul and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros. However, one particular group has people foaming at the mouth in anticipation (not literally, of course) to see them once again play a live show: Dispatch.

On July 31, 2004, Boston’s own Dispatch played their farewell concert at the Hatch Shell in Beantown to a crowd of more than 100,000 people. “The Last Dispatch” was said to be the largest concert in independent music history.

Three years later, the band announced a benefit concert titled “Dispatch: Zimbabwe.” The band  was happy to announce that their show had officially sold out just 30 minutes after their Myspace presale began. They quickly added two more shows, which sold out within 24 hours of being announced. Now, they’re back, and they’re coming to Washington.

With the release of their new, self-titled EP in May, multi-instrumentalists Chad Urmston, Pete Francis Heimbold (who goes by Pete Francis), and Brad Corrigan (nicknamed Braddigan) were sky-rocketed back into the public spotlight. The record, their first new release since 2000, shot to the second slot on the iTunes album charts within hours of its release.

Dispatch is reminiscent of the group’s later albums, but with a much more electric feel. The first single, “Melon Band,” brings back images of their 2000 funk-rock hit “Here We Go,” with notable influences from Urmston’s reggae-punk side project State Radio (a band I would highly recommend if you like Dispatch, or music in general); “Con Man” is a reggae-funk tune that hails back to 2000’s “Open Up”; and “Valentine” brings back the group’s signature acoustic sound, à la “Hey Hey” and “Two Coins.”

The latter half of the album sounds like each member took turns adding signature styles from their solo efforts. “Beto,” for instance, sounds like a State Radio song; “Broken American” brings out the rhythm-heavy sounds of Braddigan’s solo material; and “Turn This Ship Around” invokes the intimate, emotional sound of Pete Francis’ lone recordings. Overall, this is a Dispatch album that can be thoroughly enjoyed by all fans, new and old.

Dispatch, live at the Greek Theatre, Berkley, CA on June 11, 2011.

Dispatch will play at the Gorge Amphitheater on Sunday, September 4, as part of the Dave Matthews Band Caravan. Single-day tickets are available for $85, and weekend passes are available for $195 + some additional fees (this is also available as a payment plan, with three payments of $65). which includes a three-day camping pass. Tickets also include a three-day parking pass, and are available here.

Who knows when Dispatch will tour again? This is an amazing opportunity to see one of the biggest bands in independent music history at arguably the most beautiful concert venue in the world!

Dave Matthews Band Caravan  |  Sept. 2 – 4, 2011  |  The Gorge Amphitheater, George