Go Now, You Are Forgiven—A Guide To Dispatch
By Felipe Vallejo, Feature Photo via ImgArcade
Whenever I mention the name Dispatch, I’m responded to with looks of confusion. The name is alien to most who were born in the mid-to-late 90’s, and yet it still surprises me that their success and legacy has become relatively forgotten in this age of the music industry. Long before the age of Spotify, Apple Music, and even iTunes, there was a time where the only way you could really get and share new music was through services like Limewire and Napster. In this era, (circa mid-to-late 90’s) there was one band that took these services and used them to become one of their greatest product: Dispatch. Chad, Brad, and Pete were just college kids when they first began to gain recognition for their music. After performing some local gigs in Boston, including one with Sublime, the three guys stumbled upon the peer-to-peer file sharing programs Napster and Limewire. They saw it as a great opportunity to get their music out there for the world to hear, but little did they know that it would lead to one of the greatest and most unique rises to fame in the history of music. After the success of their initial album Silent Steeples in 1996, the reggae-funk inspired acoustic folk band began to realize that these file sharing programs were the key to their success, and decided to stay away from any brand deals. They cited this to be mostly due to the lack of promise for complete artistic freedom. Six years and three studio albums later, the band was booming. They were selling out huge venues all over the country, and even got a TV show appearance on The Late Late Show with Craig Kilborn in 2002. But tensions began to rise, as the three members of the band all began to want to pursue different ambitions for both themselves and the band. That very same year, they announced an indefinite hiatus. But, the greatest part of their story lies two years later in 2004, where they decided to do a final concert, deemed “The Last Dispatch,” in their hometown of Boston. The initial estimate for fan turnout was 10,000 to 30,000. Instead, what they got was a crowd of over 100,000 from all over the world coming to see their last concert. It remains the biggest recorded event by an independent band in history. More recently, Dispatch have reunited and released a self-titled EP in 2010, and a new studio album Circles Around the Sun in 2012. They also announced that they are working on a new album, making the old fans of yore yearning for their forgotten band. In the end, their story is not only a landmark for independent success, it is also a staple in the beginning of the internet’s involvement with music. These days, people might not directly know Dispatch’s name, but they their influence in today’s modern music industry. For those who have heard of Dispatch, and also for those who have not, let me show you why Dispatch is one of the greatest independent bands in the world. Here is my guide to the reggae-funk inspired acoustic-folk band, Dispatch.
They always say to start off with a bang, so here it is. “The General” is the band’s most famous song, with its lyrics still being sung by those who first heard it nearly 20 years ago. It’s fantastic acoustic ability and almost rap-like verses mixed in with harmonic bridges and catchy chorus, makes this song a staple in Dispatch’s repertoire. It is also a great song to just chill to.
2. “Bang Bang”
This easy-going track makes you feel like you were strolling the warm beaches and sunny skies of California. It’s lyrics are almost stream-of-consciousness-like, with the story being told making it seem more like a dream than a true story. Either way, if you want to just vibe out and drink a tropical drink, this song can do no wrong.
3. “Two Coins”
This acoustic tune is the closest the band really comes to a love song. It’s lyrics are simple yet romantic, and their skills in harmonizing allow them to come to life. Add It’s light hearted picking, mixed in with bongos and harmonica for some added flavour, and this song will certainly tell your loved one how you feel in a chill, groovy fashion.
4. “Flying Horses”
This song was a landmark song for the band, and for good reason. It’s a song in parts, with it’s initial start consisting of slow and mellow picks and drums, and then turns to its more rapid chorus, filled with their signature harmonies. Then, in the second part, they change it up completely. The guitar and drums become more involved, a harmonica is thrown in, and their harmonies come to full fruition. If you want a song that’ll keep you entertained and signing the whole way through, then this is the song for you.
5. “Carry You”
This song is more of a relaxed song, with simple bass lines, laid-back guitar picks and quiet percussion. Yet, it does not take away the greatness of the song. It’s lyrics are filled with empathy, wasting no emotion that is not needed. It’s soft-like sound makes way for its sweet and moving message to be present, and will leave the listener *lightly* bobbing their head and smiling.
6. “Open Up”
This song is a personal favourite. It’s instrumentals are heavily reggae inspired, with funky chord and beat progressions that’ll leave you grooving. Pair that with its important political message of social inequality and state brutality, you have a fly new tune that’ll feed both the musical and political side of you in unison.
7. “Out Loud”
Now this is for those who love songs that are just acoustic guitar and vocals. This is song of unrequited love, filled with heartfelt lyrics and somber harmonies. Its sole guitar line provides the perfect base for this emotional song, and it will leave you feeling nostalgic of all those times that your high school crush ignored you.
This song is probably the most upbeat song of the list, filled with strong and fast-paced electric guitar and bass chords, and a percussion line that’ll leave your foot tapping like crazy. Add their signature harmonies that we now know and love, and this will be the song that you’ll be singing in the car for days to come.
This song is for those who love those songs that are just fun to listen to. Here we have the band just having some laid-back fun, and you can tell how much fun they’re having in the song. Their classic guitar and bass lines fill your ears, along with a surprise entry of some blues-like brass. With lyrics that almost make no-sense but still are fun to sing to (and who can forget their classic harmonies), this song will be on the first of your get-happy playlists.
They also say to save the best for last. This song is probably the most diverse song Dispatch has ever made. Inspired from one of the members journey to Zimbabwe, this song takes on an Traditional African feel and mixes it with their classic acoustic sound. It begins solely with a bongo line, and lyrics in Zimbabwe’s native tongue of Shona. It then brings in the acoustic guitar, and the mix of their and this African sound comes to life. With the rest of the lyrics (now in English) talking about the life of a Zimbabwe native named Elias and his hardships, it opens the eyes of the listener to this new but important message. Overall, with their incredible harmonies and powerful message, this song is probably their best song. It twists their Western music style with an African feel, and leaves you not only appreciating the music, but also your life.