Dispatch (photo: Joshua Huver)
On Thursday, June 8, the acoustic-heavy folk rock sound of Boston-based trio Dispatch filled the Atrium at the Catalyst in Santa Cruz to celebrate the band’s latest release.
America, Location 12 is Dispatch’s sixth full-length LP overall, second since officially reuniting in 2011 and first in five years. Recorded at Panoramic Studios in Stinson Beach, CA, the majority of the album’s material was conceived of by founding member Chad Urmston following a fruitful winter cottage retreat where he wrote nearly 30 brand new songs, prompting him to ask to drive the making of the album.
On Thursday, Urmston was joined by fellow founding member Brad Corrigan, Matt Embree (RX Bandits), Mike Sawitzke (The Eels), producer of the latest record, and percussionist JR, who spent many nights on the road traveling across the US with Chad before joining the Dispatch team with Embree for the European tour in 2016.
Unfortunately, the third original founding member of the band, Pete Heimbold, has detailed in a letter to the fans how an ongoing struggle with depression prevented him from joining the tour and revealing that is the same reason he did not tour in Europe. During the show in Santa Cruz, Corrigan acknowledged Heimbold’s absence but was encouraging in his outlook.
“For those of you that have taken the time to write him and detail your own struggles and your own experiences and really share with him, you have no idea how much of a help that is,” Corrigan said. “Thank you.”
With the unpredictability of southbound rush hour traffic from the Bay to Santa Cruz, the evening’s schedule got pushed back about half an hour, including time for a fire-drill soundcheck and a bite of a turkey sandwich. By 7:30, however, the stage and room were full and the ten song set list was underway.
Dispatch opened with three brand new tracks from America, Location 12, beginning with “Midnight Lorry” and moving into “Painted Yellow Lines” and then the ultra-poignant “Rice Water.” By the midway point of the show, they decided to reach deep into their catalog and busted out my personal favorite song (and honestly one of my favorite songs of all time), “Flying Horses” from their 1996 debut release, Silent Steeples. Check it out below:
They followed “Horses” with “Curse + Crush,” another heartfelt and heavy new tune that came to be after the passing of Urmston’s cousin. Corrigan talked about his experiences in Native American lands that led to the birth of the next song in the set list, “Flag,” from the band’s 2012 post-hiatus album Circles Around The Sun.
Easily one of the coolest things about the show was the level of intimacy the 300 cap venue offered with a band that has regularly drawn tens of thousands of people to their shows internationally for over 20 years. Each song began with a story, and as if an intimate record release party were not enough to cement the moment, JR and his wife were celebrating the very recent birth of their new baby, who nearly stole the show from the band.
Next, Dispatch dipped back in time again for one of their most widely successful songs in their catalog, “The General,” from their 1998 sophomore LP Bang Bang before ending the set with another track from the new record, “Only The Wild Ones.”
They disappeared sidestage momentarily and returned for a two song encore that reached from their newest record all the way back to Silent Steeples for the second time. They kicked off the end of the show with the new tune “Skin The Rabbit” and ended with the fan favorite “Elias” before hanging out around the venue to engage with friends, fans, and family outside the venue.