Author: Nathan Haimowitz
Dispatch, the illustrious indie rockers, closed out November with a stirring acoustic performance at the Sylvee. Despite starting out as an all acoustic jam band under the moniker “One Fell Swoop” in the early 1990s, this current tour is just Dispatch’s first acoustic endeavor on the road. The band soon showed an eager audience how excited they were to be “returning to [their] roots.”
Raye Zaragoza opened the show with a terrific set. Zaragoza drew inspiration for many of her songs from her multinational heritage as a Native American, Mexican, Taiwanese, and Japanese woman as she relayed how such identities have shaped the lives of her and her parents. Throughout her set, Zaragoza told her remarkable story, playing the entirety of her 2017 album, Fight for You. Zaragoza advocated continued support for the Sioux in the fight against the Dakota Access Pipeline and called upon the crowd to chant “Stand up, fight back!” with her during the performance of her album’s self-titled track. Promising to return to Madison soon, Zaragoza told concertgoers to send her purple heart emojis on social media so she would know they had met at this performance.
The audience lingered in excitement between sets, unsure which parts of the band’s discography would soon hit the stage as the band has modified their setlist for each show of the tour. Murmurs only increased as a wide plethora of instruments were laid out, from a triangle, to garbage can lids, to an array of guitars placed on stage. Arriving to raucous applause, the band smoothly flashed peace signs and went to work.
Dispatch interspersed hits from their transcendent early albums Bang Bang and Silent Steeples with newer successes from their albums of the last two years, America, Location 12 and Location 13. The emotional roller coaster that ensued hit frenzied heights during the band’s performance of “Flying Horses” and continued with the band enjoying audience participation during a cover of the Beatles’ hit “Don’t Let Me Down.”
Never ones to shy away from being politically and socially conscious, Dispatch dedicated a part of their set to speaking on the migrant caravan, reminding the crowd of their plight and the respect they are owed by a public that is privileged to be able to spend their time there at the concert before heading home. Playing songs like “Out Loud” and “Letter to Lady J” commanded the full attention and respect of the venue, striking a more somber note.
The concert ended on the raucous note it had started on as the band came out for an encore and played their iconic song, “The General” to a crowd that sang every word with them. The Sylvee was slow to empty after the performance, as many were still buzzing from the sort of tremendous performance that Dispatch has come to be known for.