Dispatch and Guster in Mansfield

Matthew Shelter on June 14, 2013

Dispatch and Guster
Comcast Center
Mansfield, MA
June 8

It was one more Saturday night for Dispatch and Guster, as they brought their Circles Around The Summer tour to a pumped-up and primed Boston audience at the open-air Comcast Center in Mansfield, MA. Both bands have Massachusetts roots, and clearly seemed to enjoy playing to their hometown fans. It’s an inspired pairing for a summer tour, with Guster’s slightly more pop-oriented sound setting the table for Dispatch’s longer-form jams.

It was still light out when Guster took the stage a little after 7 pm and launched into “What You Wish For.” They squeezed more than a dozen songs into an hour-long set. Their pop roots notwithstanding, Guster can peel off some pretty fair jams themselves, and their songs seemed to loosen up and stretch out the deeper they went into their set. After a looping spin on “Satellite” and a ukulele-driven “What You Call Love,” the band opened into a long jam on “Come Downstairs and Say Hello.” Then came “Do You Love Me,” the breezy single from 2010’s Easy Wonderful, which sounds as if it could have been an AM radio hit from the early ‘70s (this is not a bad thing).

As darkness fell and the air got a little smokier, they went back to jamming on the likes of “One Man Wrecking Machine” and a spacey “Airport Song,” before closing out with “Hang On,” “Amsterdam” and “This Could All Be Yours.”

After a half-hour break between sets, Dispatch took the stage to wild applause and jumped right in with a thundering version of “Circles Around the Sun,” the title track to their most recent album, followed by “Passerby” and “Out Loud,” into which they dropped some snippets of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Mrs. Robinson.”

Guitarist Chad Stokes took a moment to say it was hard to believe they were headlining the pavilion (which used to be known as Great Woods, before a series of corporate name changes turned it into the Comcast Center). “When we were growing up we used to jump the fence right back there to get in,” he said.

I’ve seen Dispatch four times now, and their back-to-back jams on the next two songs – “Time Served” and “Bang Bang” – were some of the best I’ve ever heard from them. I was actually thinking they sounded closer to the Grateful Dead or the Allman Brothers than any other time I’ve seen them. They must have been thinking the same thing, because right in the middle of “Bang Bang” they took a little detour through “Friend of the Devil” before driving their own jam home.

The three members of Dispatch are known for switching instruments at will. Bassist Pete Francis took over lead guitar duty for an extended jam on “Lightning,” and one song later drummer Brad Corrigan was front and center on ukulele for a powerful take on “Flag,” another song off Circles Around the Sun that has become a staple of their live shows during the last year. On “Beto” it was Corrigan and Francis trading lead guitar licks while Stokes played bass. And on they switched, through “Here We Go,” “Broken American,” “Josaphine” and set-closer “The General.”

The members of Guster came back out to join Dispatch for an encore of “Cut It Ya Match It,” during which Stokes dropped in a few lines of the Buffalo Springfield classic “For What It’s Worth,” before Dispatch closed out the night with two more classics: “Flying Horses” and “Elias.”

The Circles Around The Summer Tour, which started in Chicago in early June, runs through the end of the month, with dates in California, Colorado, Delaware, New York, Michigan and Wisconsin.