Review: Dispatch at Red Rocks, 6/3/11

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"Dispatch fans came for a good time -- the first they've shared with this band in a while -- and let's just say they got what they came for."

On the first of a three-night run at Red Rocks, Dispatch played with the same passion and fervor that skyrocketed it to fame the first time around. As soon as the band took the stage, a wave of excitement spread from the first row all the way to the top, until every person in the place was on his feet for "Here We Go." The song couldn't have been a better way to get things started, both for the band and the crowd, as we watched Chad Stokes and Pete Heimbold enthusiastically play off one another.

Drummer Brad Corrigan took the lead on "Beto," which kind of starts out like "London Calling" until Corrigan's soft vocals come in. The tempo was brought down a notch on "Bang Bang," a song that, like pretty much every other song in the set, inspired a massive sing-along from the crowd. The vibe turned a little too campfire-intimate when the trio circled up in the center of the stage for some acoustic numbers. Rotating guitars, bongos, harmonicas and other percussive instruments made for some sway-inducing songs, but things thankfully got amped back up on "Broken American."

On other tunes, like "The General," the band really showcased its range, as Stokes sang with unmistakable glee in his voice and a close-up revealed him to be just glowing. At one point near the end, Heimbold came out by himself and began plucking away as Stokes and Braddigan appeared out of the sound booth for some acoustically backed rapping and beatboxing. This was pretty much the highlight of the show, and the whole place was lit with cell-phone cameras capturing the moment. Dispatch fans came for a good time, the first in awhile shared with this band, and got everything they wanted.

It was a great way to cap off a great evening that began with an intimate performance from Project Lighthouse singers and dancers, which got things started with a traditional Native American dance. Daniel Bearsheart manned the drum and the vocals while a rotating group of dancers shared the spotlight on both sides of the stage. The group received an enthusiastic response from the crowd, including the humble gentleman in the front row who took his shirt off and asked me to hand it to one of the dancers. The shirt read something like, "Supporting Indigenous Families," with the words "Support! East Coast love!" scrawled in Sharpee near the neck line.

The upper level at Red Rocks was lined with a variety of non-profits and organizations ranging from Project Lighthouse to the United Way. Amplifying Education, a non-profit dedicated to funding "those that work an under-appreciated job everyday," as vocalist/bassist Chad Stokes put it, was on hand taking donations in exchange for a raffle ticket to win a meet and greet, signed concert poster or the grand prize, at the end of the tour, a signed guitar.


Personal Bias:If I can get one concert in like this every year for the rest of my life, I'll die happy. I rode my bike from Denver to Red Rocks for the first time, and Dispatch was charged me with enough energy to make the stair hike several times to enjoy it from both the top and the bottom.
By the Way: Red Rocks was sectioned off into general admission and assigned seating, and there was a distinct lack of unruliness from the crowd that made this prospect much easier and accommodating than other shows I've seen at Red Rocks. People politely stepped aside while you tried to make your way to your seat without scoffing or pushing.
Random Detail:The roped off areas worked well, but the view from the top of Red Rocks is unbeatable no matter what show it is.

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