Summer vibes are in full spirit and the feeling is wonderful to enjoy. To add onto it, the musical talent gracing the New York City metropolitan area is just what the doctor ordered. Forest Hills Stadium is giving music fans an impressive and eclectic mix of artists this season and this past week was no exception. Dispatch with their pals Guster were providing musical pleasure for all on a wild Thursday evening. The combination of both bands and their optimistic tunes were the substance of outdoor happiness. Prior to their event, Brad Corrigan of Dispatch gave a take on their adventures thus far.
Right off the bat, Brad was overjoyed to have Guster on the road with them.“[It’s] great. They are old friends of ours and we have a lot in common in how we try to tour and all that we do off stage as well.”
With the sudden release of their first album in five years, ‘America, Location 12’, Mr. Corrigan elaborated a bit on the rest of their discography. “‘Dispatch Zimbabwe’ was really special because it was so personal to us. Getting to meet Elias and interview him for the jumbotron segments, having the African children’s choir sing with us, and to play MSG three nights in the round was just crazy beautiful. Also, love the service day we’d spent on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota in 2012. We are hoping to go back this August to start vision casting with the local community about possibly founding a music festival up there.”
After a whirlwind of performances in their career, Brad still has some admirable aspirations for the future. “[I] would love to play an intercultural music festival somewhere in the Middle East about PEACE… [It would be] with lots of bands from lots of different cultures in the name of unity and peace. [It] would be an incredible experience to have a [collective] band … a Buddhist alongside a Christian alongside a Jewish [musician] etc., and in different languages, as well as all playing for the power of peace and unity. Anything to continue highlighting the universal power [of] sharing music and seeing how much we share in common across cultural lines.”
This tour has been difficult with some crew changes among the group. “[The most difficult show was] probably was the first show of our current tour… It’s the first time Chad and I have played without our bandmate Pete [Francis Heimbold] who is taking the year off because of his battle with depression. So the idea of taking the stage without him was hard for us to envision, but because he gave us the green light to keep forging ahead we also felt compelled to play the best show that we possibly could knowing and feeling that he was with us in spirit.”
Brad has high hopes and is focussed on promoting the courage of the art form in this current climate of 2017. “We are drawn to the power of how music can be infused with protest, controversy, hope, vulnerability, all of it. I’d say we all agree the best era for music was the 60s and 70s when artists weren’t afraid to take a really strong political stand in their music and songwriting, and so we are really hoping there will be a return to more bands taking strong stands in their songwriting and speaking clearly to the current state of media and politics. Rage Against the Machine was and still is one of our favorite bands, along with CSN, Creedence, Pink Floyd, etc.”
Spring reading is always a fine pairing with music while traveling. Brad mentioned his favorite that he just finished. “The Elephant Whisperer by Lawrence Anthony. [It is a] freaking amazing book about elephants and this guy who risked his life to build out a reserve in Kenya to protect elephants from the ivory trade. Reads like a movie, couldn’t put it down.”
Luckily, a vast support system keeps the crew moving forward. “Having amazing families and friends that deal with us from the highest high and the lowest of lows [helps].” Within their music, Mr. Corrigan would love to do the impossible. “… If we could add Bob Marley to the band I think we’d all be really into that. :)”
Upon arrival to the unique venue of Forest Hills Stadium, crowds of people greeted listeners as they walked through the paths past the tennis courts and swimming pools. The 1923 established venue and the surrounding renaissance inspired buildings gave guests a journey into a new world with a village focus. In the surreal gazing that ensued, the only thing that threw people off that serene feeling was the intensity of the security at the entrance of the stadium. In the wake of the tragic Manchester Ariana Grande concert, stadiums worldwide have had to step up their game for optimal protection. Folks were not allowed to bring in their laptops or umbrellas and the series of pat downs and bag checks were frantic. Each security guard was sweating and the anxiety was apparent in their eyes. However, most of that disappeared as people finally made it inside. Rallying around the stadium circle, drinks and food were happily being bought and enjoyed. With Dispatch water bottles in hands, fans made their way to their seats as Guster came on stage to start things off.
Naturally, the men wasted no time and their optimistic music made the summer night that much more enjoyable. Ryan Miller of the crew sang his clear vocals all the way through and even made a surprise jump into the crowd singing away with obvious pleasure. The crowd parted for him and cheers overtook the floor. He high fived fans, encouraged them to jump rope over the microphone wire while also getting spanked by more ambitious folks. One guy in the crowd began to freak out and scream once Mr. Miller waved out to him and another joined in to sing and dance alongside the musician. The camaraderie that rings true in Guster’s music was plainly obvious in that sweet, sublime moment. It was all fun per usual with that Gusteroid flair. Their bounce and energy lived as if no time had passed among the men. Their music is always in season. Hits like Come Downstairs and Say Hello, Demons and Amsterdam just made the night a perfect one already, even as tennis players continued their matches in the courts behind. It was the same amazing show with great entertainment. They finished with cheers and waves out to the entire stadium.
Once Guster was finished and the waves out to the crowd ended, the men carried on off stage. The roadies clamored next and began to remove their instruments and revealed the setup for Dispatch. Long wooden fences made up the curved backdrop and white prayer flags hung up to the rigging. Multiple drum sets were showcased and the musical ensemble was ready. Fans took their time snagging additional food and drinks, some most notably taking residence in the makeshift VIP Heineken lounge smack dab in the middle of the vendor space. Announcers in the midst of the audience began alerting people via black megaphones that the band were set to come on soon with a countdown to follow.
When Dispatch entered, cheers erupted the space. The men took things off with an intimate acoustic set with their signature dreamlike harmonies stealing the show yet again. Fans joined in with ease. Calm yet energetic feelings poured out of the music at hand. Color and light lit up the men and they glowed warm. Acoustic flow fueled the inner groove of funk harmonies. Of course, the jam sessions that followed were both jazzy with plenty of rock and flamenco style influences mixed in. They, as well as their contemporaries Guster, have not lost their touch in the least. The twinkle and thrum kept the ears pricked for every note. The glory of the summer ambiance held sway. Communal clapping was often a trademark tradition in the stadium. Intimacy was the key all around among each band member and the active crowd participation. Listeners knew their stuff and sang along ceaselessly to the added bonus of providing the chorus for many of the songs. As always, the men of Dispatch displayed a wide breadth of their vocals among their screaming faces. It was hard to not go nuts with the fans as they encouraged them to continue. The wave of bouncing bodies opened the ocean of dancing on the floor. A transition finally brought the electric side of things into the fray and the men were ecstatic with power. Musically, their sync remained as strong as ever. Vocals aside, their instrumentation into the mix lead onto classic renditions of their signature tunes while also embellishing with improvisational exploration.
As the sun set, strobe lights began to flicker and illuminated the men clearly. They were obviously having a blast with one another as they danced around on stage grinning. They locked eyes and smiled even wider every time they hit their musical stride. Listeners could not help but feel inspired. It was a vibrant atmosphere matched with electrifying sounds. Even some grinding bliss was played and was paired with a soulful groove. Despite the fact that the stadium chatter never seem to dissipate, the sounds still carried over the voices well. Dispatch’s talent as a constant well-oiled musical machine kept the essence of the night alive. When dusk crept in, the men were silhouetted under a blue glow and the harmonies remained slick. Couple in the space held each other close and moved with the music. Exuberant colors and emotions were the result of the funky bass riffs and eager guitar wails. Instrumentation was the best for these men. Jumping and excitement funneled the movement into a holistic experience. Everyone stood for the finale and the crowd took control with their voices. It was a night to remember, summer has arrived in style.