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Published: 2007/06/25
by Adam Alperowicz

Prepping for Dispatch: ZimbabweThe 5 Tapes You Need To Hear

In preparation for Dispatch: Zimbabwe, a series of three sold out reunion shows at Madison Square Garden for the hugely popular underground independent jam-pop band Dispatch, Adam Alperowicz, takes some time to point out 5 shows you must hear before seeing them again.

4/16/1996 – Middlebury College, Middlebury, VT

Available on Archive.org

Widely known as “Brad’s Senior Project” this One Fell Swoop show is one of the earliest recordings of the band that would later become Dispatch. Check out the harmonies on “Silent Steeples” and “Questioned Apocalypse” for a glimpse into why these guys started making music together. The lost gem “Remake Me” is one of the best Dispatch songs that never was; this is the only widely available recording.

9/3/1999 Hamilton College, Clinton, NY

Available on Archive.org

One of the longest Dispatch tapes, this one showcases almost all aspects of the band’s multi-faceted personality. From the acoustic rock of “Elias” and “Two Coins” to the funk, rock and reggae of “Here We Go,” “Mission” and “Open Up.” You can really hear the band on the verge here, still small and insulated in the Northeastern college and prep-school world, but playing shows ready for the big time.

12/27/2000 Avalon Ballroom, Boston, MA

Available via trade

The energy in the room this night was palpable. A sold out show at one of Boston’s biggest rock clubs, during winter break, the band was on point and the crowd ate it up. Notable tracks include the jammed out cover of Bob Marley’s “War,” an explosive “The General” with a guest saxophone player, and “Bullet Holes.” Also worth hearing are the three members playing a solo acoustic song apiece, including U2 and Hendrix covers.

4/3/2001 9:30 Club, Washington, DC

Available on Archive.org

The history of Dispatch was invariably intertwined with the peer-to-peer music software Napster. The band’s popularity struck while the file trading iron was hot and they spread through the network like wildfire, gaining fans across the country without any major label or radio support. It’s only fitting that they’d play a free show in support of the service during the highly publicized congressional hearings on Napster. This show is rich with some of the fun covers that were a cornerstone to live Dispatch, like “Land Down Under,” “What I Got” and “Ms. Jackson.” Check out the acoustic rarity “Flying Horses” and the rocker “Lightning” as well.

7/31/2004 The Hatchshell, Boston, MA

Available on bt.etree.org

After two years of an unofficial hiatus, Dispatch returned to their hometown for a free, final goodbye. Of course, we now know it wasn’t final, but the biggest estimates say over 100,000 showed up. The day was hot, the music was a tad rusty, but the crowd was huge and the band was electric. Highlights include “Headlights,” the reggae version of “Outloud” with Marley’s “Stir It Up” in the middle and the roaring rock of “Time Served.”

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