The Tabernacle filled with eager fans and a strange fog last Friday evening in anticipation for Dispatch’s last stop on their Circles Around the Sun tour.
Dispatch is an indie folk jam band based out of Boston, MA whose music also showcases ska, reggae and rap rock features.
As with most jam bands, Dispatch is known for their live sets. The extended improvisations during their live shows generate a unique experience that cannot be captured by listening to an album.
The band was originally active from 1996 to 2002, but then went on hiatus.
After a few reunion shows in the following years, Dispatch announced that they would go on tour again in 2011. Now in 2012, the band is presenting their latest album, Circles Around the Sun, with a North American tour. The crowd swarmed in at around 8:30 in preparation for a night of jams. The venue’s floor and two balconies were all filled with fans eager for the opening song. At around 9:00 the lights dimmed and the trio made their way out of backstage to start the show.
Fans cheered as they began to play “Time Served,” a classic from when the band was originally together in the early 2000s. The show went on with performances of songs from Circles Around the Sun. The crowd danced along as the band played songs including “Never or Now” and “Sign of the Times.” The concert then took on a lighter mood as they played one of their most famous hits, “Bang Bang.” Fans swayed back and forth, smiling as they sang along to the lyrics.
This was followed by another light song, however, this time they played a newer song, “Flag.” The band went on to play “Out Loud”, another classic hit that the crowd sang along to from their 1998 album, Bang Bang.
Right after, drummer Brad Corrigan led the band into “Beto,” a song off their 2011 EP, followed by “Feels So Good,” which comes off Circles Around the Sun.  This part of the set was complete with harmonicas and bongos, for a lower tempo vibe. The crowd swayed back and forth, holding lighters in the air to show their appreciation for the intricate improvisations and extended plays.
Things then changed and the beat picked up as “Flying Horses” was performed, one of Dispatch’s most famous songs.
A cover of Paul Simon’s “Mother and Child Reunion” followed.The show seemingly began to draw to a close as “Here We Go,” “Get Ready Boy,” and “Melon Blend” were performed.
The set concluded with a 10-minute long play of “The General.” The band kept quiet to let the crowd take over to repeatedly sing the famous lyrics, “Go now, you are forgiven” during the song’s bridge.As the band left the stage, the fans firmly remained on the floor, cheering in hopes of an encore. Within a few minutes, the trio came running back out to meet the crowd’s demands.
The encore began with a cover of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Midnight Rider,” followed by “Mission,” a song off the band’s own 1999 album, Four-Day Trials.The trio then left the stage once again, but the fans still stayed, shouting for another encore. After a few minutes of anticipation, the band came storming back out for one final song. The crowd beamed with smiles and joy as the beginning lyrics of “Elias” began to play.
Written in remembrance of bassist Chad Urmston’s experience living and teaching in Zimbabwe, this song is particularly special to the band and generated a like appreciation to the fans. African lyrics explaining the story of a specific child Urmston helped are showcased in the song, among an English chorus to which the crowd spiritedly sang along until the concert’s close.
The band’s new album and tour were both a tribute to a friend of the band, Larry Perry. Perry, a disabled man who was launched into space by NASA in the 1960s, passed away this past year.
Many have questioned the ethics of this mission, claiming that it was simply a ploy by the US to compete with the USSR in the era’s space race. Nonetheless, Perry was successfully sent into space and came back alive.
Going to space had been a dream of his for his whole life, and although he may have not been able to walk or talk, he reportedly landed with a huge smile on his face.
For every show on the tour, $1 was donated for every ticket purchased to Amplifying Education, a non-profit started by the band. The movement strives to improve education by supporting literacy programs, funding young education programs and the like.
According to the band, “for too long a child’s zip code has determined their educational destiny.” The proceeds from ticket sales will add to the $250,000 that the program has already raised.
Although it was interesting that the set featured more of the bands classic songs than songs from Circles Around the Sun, for which the tour was initiated, the show nonetheless had the crowd on their feet the whole time.
As the lights went on and security began ushering the fans out of the building, everybody still found themselves humming beats and singing lyrics from a truly special, passionate show.
– By Kevin Fanshawe