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"Last Dispatch" for indie-rock pioneers in Boston

2. August 2004 • Matt Hollerbach
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Boston, MA—On the last day of July, in what can only be described as sweltering midsummer heat, as many as 100,000 dedicated fans came from as far away as Australia to bid indie-rockers Dispatch farewell at a free performance that was as memorable as it was important.

The park was packed, water was a precious commodity (and, at times, a form of currency), and the sun blazed from across the river. The band played for nearly four hours and left the audience satisfied, but somber. It was their favorite band’s final concert.

In addition to playing nearly all of their songs, the band took the opportunity to advocate responsible citizenship, urging all their fans to “use their voice” and vote in the fall. Later in the concert, the group took a less ambiguous position, shouting “rage against Bush” and asking its fans to “take back the country.” The group’s most popular song, and the only to ever gain mainstream airplay, is “The General,” a hopeful anti-war song about a seasoned war hero who discharges all his troops when he realizes that “this fight is not worth fighting.”

Dispatch formed in the late nineties when three friends who all sang, wrote music, and played guitar, decided to cooperate to form a uniquely dynamic independent rock group. Pete Heimbold, Chad Stokes, and Brad Corrigan each learned new instruments and started a rotating performance style that made them a hit on campuses across the country.

However, it was their promotion of internet music filesharing that gained them notoriety within the music industry. Having no desire to find a major distributor, the band relied on the early users of Napster to spread their music across the globe (you can still listen to all of their music for free on their website). The band even appeared at congressional hearings on the subject, but lament the fact that only major-label musicians were granted floor time.

Several years ago, the members decided that they wanted to end their journey while it was still fresh, and each went on to pursue their own projects. Occasionally reuniting for mini-tours, the band decided to throw one last party in Boston—their so-called “base camp”—as a part of Boston’s summer festival. The band secured the famed Hatch Shell outdoor park performance venue (just across the Charles River from Cambridge) for their farewell, and let the fans come for free.

This humble blogger (who, if you couldn’t tell, was at the concert) wishes the band well in the future, thanks them for the good times, and will surely and sorely miss them.

> Boston Globe: Dispatch goes out on top at giant farewell show
> (official site)

  1. Rage against Bush? Are you serious?
    The only part of the concert that could be deemed political was near the very end for all of 20 seconds. Instructions to go out and vote and use your voice didn’t translate ” rage against Bush” to me or anyone else I’ve shown this to who was present.
       —Adam    Aug. 4 '04 - 12:40PM    #
  2. Adam – I am sorry if you think the information in my post is incorrect. When the band shouted “rage against Bush,” I didn’t actually hear it. I heard them say something, and then a large number of people in the crowd cheered.

    I turned to my friend and asked what was said. That is when I was told that one of the members had yelled “rage against Bush.” This was confirmed by several other concert-goers around me whom I did not know.

    Since I had no reason to suspect that those around me were all imagining the same thing, I assumed it to be fact and included it in my post.

    As for the general political atmosphere of the event, in addition to the time when (I allege) the band shouted their anti-Bush cheer, there were at least two other times when the band advocated not only voting, but “making a change” in our government.
       —Matthew Wright Hollerbach    Aug. 6 '04 - 05:47PM    #