REVIEW: Dispatch at Summerfest


And only the wild ones give you something and never want it back.” A quote taken from Dispatch’s opening song Only the Wild Ones stood out to me as something this band truly embodies this particular night at Dispatch’s Sunday night show. Reigning in a heavier rock sound than I had experienced from this group before, it was clear that Dispatch wanted to leave the crowd blown away. I think they hit their mark.

The Band

Dispatch formed in the mid 90’s hailing from Boston, MA to much-loved indie and college rock fame. Building much of their reputation by the infamous Napster peer to peer music sharing program and word of mouth in the New England area. (I feel like I wouldn’t need to explain what Napster is, but it’s been a while for the newcomers). Keeping with a more acoustic and softer rock style, the band grew famous for their local shows. Eventually splitting in the early 2000’s Dispatch’s fate was unclear, until a few years back when they made a strong resurgence. This time with louder guitars, heavier riffs and the same loveable sing-along-ability they were known for.

The Experience

This show was a bit different than my previous Dispatch experiences. The fluidity and constant barrage of changing sounds and harmonizing melodies matched what I’ve come to expect, but everything this time around was bigger. The sound was bigger, the light show was bigger, even the guitars were bigger. Well, the last one was a bit perspective as one of the performers had a mandolin.

Aware of this being the last day of Summerfest they wanted to send off the 11-day festival with a bang. The little acoustic, peace/love/rock and roll band I had come to know was a full heaping of rock and roll. Yes, the love was there, but it was something outstanding that I hadn’t come to expect with what I’ve heard from their previous live shows or studio sessions. Dispatch was a full on *insert my generic adjective that gets deleted anyway* rock and roll band. The solos were face melting, the drum breaks bone-shaking, and the vocals mind-blowing. 

One of the best parts of any Dispatch show is the crowd. With a band that has been around as long and amassed a following like they have, you are bound to have a great audience. This audience did not disappoint. Knowing practically every song and singing along with the band is a staple of jam bands. Even it being the last day it was still incredibly loud, loud enough for lead singer Chadwick Stokes to say that he’s impressed with how loud this festival crowd was. It was clear that the audience members were not passer-byes, but true fans of the craft. 

The Verdict

With a heaping dose of hits both old and new, Dispatch played non-stop for an hour and a half. They even cut their break out to make the crowd cheer them back on for an encore because of the jams. A perfect blend of jamming might I add. Not too long at any point. Without their break, they jumped right into their encore with a cover of Rage Against The Machine’s Wake Up. Remember when I said this was a full on rock show? They went absolutely nuts on the stage for the full song screaming into the microphone. 

It was a welcome treat to a fantastic end to Summerfest 2019. Dispatch has yet to disappoint me and I hope they keep up the same tenacity they did at this show. 


Only the Wild Ones
Be Gone
Bats in the Belfry
Bang Bang
Came for the Fire
Beto—> In the Air Tonight—> Beto
Black Land Prairie
Skin the Rabbit
Flying Horses
Wake Up (Rage Against the Machine cover)
The General
Letter to Lady J

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