After almost ten years of what was beginning to seem like an interminable hiatus, reggae-rock trio Dispatch is back on the summer tour circuit. Since their 2002 farewell show in Boston, which was attended by over 100,000 strong and is on record as the largest independent concert in the history of live music, fans have seen little from the band other than the occasional benefit show. In an ever-consolidating music industry where the majors’ dominion over the market is perpetually escalating it’s certainly nice to see Dispatch shift back into relevancy as they, perhaps more so than any other band, champion the term ‘indie’ in the most literal sense of the word.
After a three-night stint in Colorado at Red Rocks, Dispatch took their much anticipated, albeit brief reunion tour to Chicago at UIC Pavilion. Opening with the staples “Bats in the Belfry” and “Open Up” off the overtly celebrated Bang Bang, it became instantly apparent that the decade off had done little to hinder the group’s trademark sound or cohesiveness.
The subsequent set which lasted just under 2 ½ hours, and was remarkably played without anything resembling a set break, covered nearly every Dispatch classic (Bang, Bang, The General, Two Coins, Flying Horses, Out Loud, Mission, Carry You, Passerby, Elias) along with their entire new, self-titled EP. The only lull in the performance came when front man Brad Corrigan took what felt like an excessive amount of time to promote the educational charities who are receiving a portion of the tour proceeds- an admirable cause for sure, but a point most likely lost on the near-sellout crowd somewhere between the pungent cloud of smoke and the 18 oz beers.
Despite the PSA, the set ultimately proved to be borderline brilliant and ended incredibly strong with a double encore that included flawless covers of Buffalo Springfield’s “For What it’s Worth” and Simon & Garfunkel's “Mrs. Robinson.” Overall, it was great to see the band back on stage with a new-found vibrancy, doing what they so clearly love to do and producing a show that certainly pleased everyone from the most casual to the most fanatic of Dispatch enthusiasts.