PHOTOS / RECAP: Dispatch @ Ryman Auditorium, Nashville 5/29/13

A few weeks back I was fortunate enough to get to experience the indie-reggae band whose CD I’d always use to start my Spring Break. The same band that every indie jam band in the past decade loves to name as an influence. I saw Dispatch, and it was at the historic Ryman Auditorium no less. The band couldn’t have picked a more perfect opener than the soulful and more-than-spirited Allen Stone, who spread the love and charged the crowd.

Dispatch started their set with a rhythmic, instrumental version of “Broken American,” with banjo solos (of course). Their set was full of everything that made Dispatch Dispatch, with a mix of instrumental punk meets reggae-rock meets perfection. This was the first time I had gotten to see these guys play in over a decade, and nothing’s changed. These guys [obviously] know how to jam, and they were even tighter as a band now than they were before their nine-year hiatus. I mean, there was a banjo. And tons of lights. And harmonica solos. Everything I needed in a show was there and it felt like a safe, colorful little space. Dispatch then went on to perform “Two Coins” halfway into their set, which felt like spring break meets the mother church. It couldn’t get any more entertaining, until Nashville’s own Phil Keaggy stepped out and joined for a few songs, including “Josephine,” “Passerby,” “Carry You,” and a very Nashville guitar solo jam session by Phil Keaggy and Dispatch’s Chad Urmston. Throughout the set, the crowd at the foot of the stage continued to grow into it’s own little community, singing along and dancing to crowd favorites like “Flag,” “Out Loud,” and “Bad Fear Of Heaven.” The last three songs were sung by every fan there, with sheer energy and rhythm, as if the Ryman itself were singing every line of “The General.” After the band ended the set and walked offstage, the crowd’s thunderous stomping and clapping brought them back out to play their last song. And then another five songs. Dispatch ended their 1.5 hour set with “Elias,” completely acoustic, intimate, and characteristically, a perfect fit for the venue and a perfect first Ryman show.

Not only did they put on one of the best shows overall in Nashville I’ve seen (yes, really), but they’re actually good guys. The band had spent the entire day working in a school that helped students get their diplomas and set them up for success. This isn’t a first for Dispatch, who have set up multiple philanthropic organizations across the nation as well as worldwide, helping local communities succeed in education. The tour continues on, and thanks for hitting Nashville guys. Hope you felt the love.

Here’s my full gallery from the show: