The year is 2007, I had never been to a music festival in my life and had never seen a concert on the level which I was about to experience. I decided to break the seal on both experiences by trekking up to Detroit Lakes SOO Ranch and spend a few days with friends and a whole lot of jam band music. At that time Dispatch was nothing more than a cherry on top for a lineup I was excited about. Bands like Wilco, Dave Matthews Band, Wide Spread Panic, Gomez, and so many others were to take stage and adding in Dispatch or Atmosphere was for my inexperienced mind just another mind blowing opportunity. I can’t insure the accuracy of my memories from those shows for a multitude of reasons. But I can say that Dispatch though only a 2 man show, I think?, on that night in Detroit Lakes was as entertaining as any other show that weekend. The members of Dispatch returned to Minneapolis to the beautiful and intimate Pantages Theatre in full this week, including Pete Francis, to provide a taste of their latest work and bring back some of our favorites. I should add that in my time chatting with newly made friends during the show I learned, for those festival fans who never heard, that the 10k Lakes Festival was not shut down due to any events during the festival but due to some complications from the owners. So take that as you may.
First observation on the night is a simple one. The place was sold out and maybe then some as there was temporary seating added just in front of the stage. Second observation, I know it said this was an acoustic tour but… there was a full band?. I haven’t been to an acoustic evening where 5 band members, 3 sets of drums, 3 guitarists, and a keyboard were all present. But hey, maybe I missed a memo in the time since I last saw the band in person. Either way I was pumped to see a full band walk on stage and the guys wasted no time jumping into their groove. It was around the time of their second or third song I realized, I kind of like that this show was at a seated venue. There’s a balancing act between seating and standing room shows but I had some skepticism given the last time I had seen Dispatch.
I won’t give a full run through of the evening’s set as I normally try to do. Reason being that this is Dispatch’s new album and honestly I think it deserves a run through before I make an amateur attempt to tell you what I think of it all. The new songs are true to the group’s sound and translated great to live. I think between the album and concert now I can say Begin Again and Windylike are probably my favorites from the recent tracks. Though overall the new tracks were all loved by the crowd and myself it was when the familiar riffs from The General and Bang Bang came on that things blew up. Life music has a way of lowering the guard for the willing fan. And hearing an old tune that means so much to so many has a way of doing just that with the utmost ease. All at once the crowd took over singing along to each song and for almost the entirety of each track the band took a step back and just played. The crowd took over singing and in a sort of thank you and your welcome dialogue the two bounced back and forth. The look on the band’s faces saying so genuinely, thank you. The crowd in turn saying no, thank you all.
I can’t put my finger on what caught me off guard by this show even a day removed. I left with a sense of calm and reflection remembering all the years I had gone about listening to Dispatch and how the songs had crept their way into my memory. It was a fantastic trip down memory lane for myself and the rest in attendance and getting to hear their new music, the return story of Pete Francis, and some of the old favorites was a wonderful trifecta. If you have been hesitant to hear out their newest music please take the jump. If you have heard it, I highly suggest hearing it live next.