For some of us, music history will be made this summer.
For the first time in their respective histories, Dispatch and O.A.R. will hit the road together for their first-ever North American co-headlining tour. While bands have previously played on the same bill, this summer tour marks the first time the two have actually shared a tour together.
The 37-date tour is scheduled to kick off on July 15, 2022 in Mesa, AZ, with stops in Los Angeles, San Diego, Denver, Atlanta, Cleveland, Nashville, Boston, Chicago, New York, Philly, Austin, Virginia Beach, and more. They’ll be joined by the Robert Randolph Band and G. Love on select stops. The full list of dates is below.
This tour is a generational moment for aging millennials like myself who grew up listening to both Dispatch and O.A.R. at seminal moments in their respective careers, in the years following Y2K. With tight vocal harmonies, djembes, and strumming acoustic guitars, each band defied the traditional path of music industry success at the time, chugging along the road less traveled.
Though completely different bands, in that cultural moment, their entire vibe seemed intertwined.
Dispatch and O.A.R. are uniquely uncategorizable to most music lovers. They don’t quite fall in the spectrum of arena-capacity jam bands like Dave Matthews Band or Phish, yet they’re equally far away from the world of alt-rock like, say, Weezer, The White Stripes, or The Shins.
They were just dudes, playing in bands, doing their respective things – which is why they resonated so much at the time. Their value-prop to audiences wasn’t their edginess or brashness as performers, but simply that they were the band that your cool older cousin dug. You know, the whipsmart captain-of-the-tennis-team type that everyone loved, who spoke with conviction about David Foster Wallace’s body of work.
If you graduated high school between, say, 1999 – 2005, O.A.R. and Dispatch’s music was everywhere: Playing the background of parents’ basements, on ratty Ford Escort speakers on the way to Friday night hangs with friends, as the subtle soundtrack to small stake poker games – exploding in popularity as a dudes night pastime at the time.
Similar to jam bands, each relied on a generation to find their music on Limewire and Napster, then go to a show and have a good time with their friends.
The strategy – whether intentional or merely happenstance for the era – worked.
Both O.A.R. and Dispatch exploded with the college rock crowd – the lacrosse players and ultimate frisbee slingers who wore frayed brimmed dirty white hats with college names on it.
That’s a crowd we know well here at BroBible.
In fact, when we made this playlist in sincere jest – and a heaping dose of irony – years ago, we put both bands right next to each other. It seemed appropriate at the time.
I played in two bands in high school, both of which heavily rotated Dispatch and O.A.R. songs in our catalog. I think we played “Crazy Game Of Poker” at our junior year talent show (…another band, friendly rivals at the time, played “The General”). One year later, our senior year, we played “Two Coins” at the same talent show. Blurry in all these memories is the time drove to Elizabethtown College one night to catch O.A.R. open for Rusted Root in the school’s small field house.
We were high school kids in a college crowd. It’s funny to laugh about it in hindsight, but man we felt cool even though we were anything but.
When Dispatch played what was supposed to be their final concert before calling it a quits, on July 31, 2004 at the Hatch Shell in Boston, over 100,000 people turned up. I was 18, just graduated high school, about to start my freshman year of college, and extremely envious of the half a dozen or so friends I knew who made the trip just to witness it.
Clearly, both bands struck a cultural nerve.
A uniquely East Coast nerve.
Looking back, it seems like there were two bands in particular that benefited the most from this newfound access: Dispatch and O.A.R, who, while different, both made the kind of music seemingly designed to play loudly while drinking beers or throwing a frisbee around the quad. I couldn’t tell you why, but most people eventually came to identify as a “Dispatch Person” or an “O.A.R. Person (I fell into the former category, as I could never get past the fact that most of O.A.R.’s lyrics sounded like pure gibberish).
Even the origin story of both bands is similar, with each band getting their start in 1996.
O.A.R., for example, is comprised of a group of high school buddies from Rockville, Maryland who went on to study and play together at Ohio State. Dispatch also formed the same year – Chadwick Stokes, Brad Corrigan, and former band member Pete Francis met at Middlebury College, originally dubbing themselves One Fell Swoop.
Both bands have toured and recorded relentlessly over the years.
“Dispatch has always been a name on our white-board wish-list for bands we wanted to tour with,” said O.A.R.’s sax player Jerry DePizzo in a statement. “It’s almost as if we’ve existed in parallel universes. We both came up through the ranks and cut our teeth playing colleges and small clubs throughout the Northeast and Midwest. It’s taken a few years, but the stars have finally aligned. We’re looking forward to this because we feel both audiences will be excited as well. We should have done this a long time ago.”
In May 2021, Dispatch recently released their eighth studio album, Break Our Fall to critical acclaim.
I got a chance to talk to Chadwick Stokes and Brad Corrigan in tandem a couple of days before Break Our Fall was released.
In honor of the big tour announcement, here are a few excerpts from that conversation.
Brandon: A lot of work and love has gone into this new album. When you release “May We All” in October 2020, the timing was such a powerful thing. It’s such a resilient song. You guys have always done such a great job of bringing a sense of resilience across – championing the human spirit.
Chadwick Stokes: Yeah. It’s been a roller coaster, right? “May We All” was one of the songs we kept going back to change the lyrics to fit more what we were feeling at the time – as the news was coming out with the racial reckoning that this country was facing. Just how systemic racism that’s so rampant and such a disease in our country. This is all while COVID obviously is happening.
While talking about those grave issues, there is some sense of optimism in that song. Like, if we can all get our shit together and, and understand each other’s pain, you know, as a human race, maybe we can do this, you know, and as white people learning more about the inherent privileges of our own life just because of the color of our skin.
Learning more, evolving, and what it means to be who we are.
Brad Corrigan: I think Chad and I used to look at the issues in “May We All” through a different lens than when we were younger bachelors on the road all the time. Now, as dads, we think about the generational aspect of issues that have been so deep-seated. Every generation inherits them.
This story isn’t finished. What can we do together to create a better world and experience for everyone?
It seems like every artist in the world put something out in 2020 just to do it. I think what’s so unique about what you guys do is that there’s a call to action. How to think about that?
Brad: I think it’s a pretty fine line. You can’t really push people to a call to action. You can’t strong arm.
We’ve been given a lot of freedom and volume to our voices. Like if I look back at everything, it does come from a place of privilege – the zip code I was born, the sports I played, the friends I had, my parents’ network. All of these really privileged dots connected that lead to meeting Chad and our first bandmate Pete (Francis) at a great university.
At least we can point the song in the direction that it asks a question – Like it’s a doorway into something we hope they go.
Fatherhood is such a big theme throughout the album. How has fatherhood impacted you as performers and artists?
Chadwick: We were talking about this earlier. Brad has a song called “Greta” on the album. In so many ways we failed the next generation by not doing something in time. You know, things like not cutting emissions before we’re beyond this point of no return for our earth. We haven’t moved fast enough.
We’re in Martha’s Vineyard now, and there’s going to be a wind farm off the coast that’s going to have, you know, 70 turbines. That was supposed to go in 10 years ago. It’s stuff like that – what’s the world like that we’re leaving our kids and how can we contribute to a solution?
Brad: I think you can feel like you’re an activist and that you’re doing everything you can to stay connected.
Then you realize when you have kids that you haven’t done anything.
Just having knowledge of social injustice isn’t enough. We should all be doing something more. To your question of being a dad, I think as a parent now, you’re either committed to fighting fights for the sake of your kids *or* don’t tell yourself that you’re doing enough to better the world.
Speaking of fatherhood – How do you feel about maybe being classified as “dad rock”, whatever the means. You guys have obviously been at it for a while now. There’s a new generation discovering Dispatch that’s very different from my generation in the 2000s, usually via their parents. What’s that multi-generational thing like for you guys?
Brad Corrigan: I was just going to say some of our favorite fan interactions have been like when it’s like father/daughter, and they’re both like excited backstage to meet us and tell who sometimes it’s the daughter who is getting the dad in. And sometimes it’s the dad getting the daughter in. That multi-generational thing is so sweet.
It’s cool how audiences can evolve right with you.
Chadwick: Yeah. Well, I think we’ve been so lucky with our career to have such a grassroots following in the beginning. And it was all word of mouth. Like my cousin told me about you guys, you know, or my older brother. It was all so connected. I felt like we all were so connected to each other because we weren’t on the radio or we didn’t have a record label. So it was never from the top down. I think that built that foundation that you speak of.
Do you see a younger generation embracing Dispatch’s catalog, whether it’s something new or from another era?
Brad: I think as songwriters, you really do hope that you’re writing something that has enough layers that it can land in any different place.
I mean, it could be universal. You really hope that your art has meaning wherever it’s being listened to.
But when someone young comes and they’re excited to invite an older sibling or a parent — that to me is the ultimate compliment. It’s gold.
The opposite is fine too, when someone is like “no, this is mine. I don’t want to share it with anyone” That is cool too. It’s fun when you’ve hit a generation so squarely that it’s just for them.
I think it’s hip to have my dad or mom with me at a show. That’s a really great feeling. We hope it continues to go younger. I think that’s probably the hardest thing for us is to figure out.
Chadwick: In the beginning – the first five, six years of Dispatch – if you were older than us band members, you had no idea who the band was.
But if you were our age or younger in this world – this touring world, this kind of jam band world – you do know Dispatch.
As we’ve gotten older, it keeps going down. We’ll be doing a radio show and there’ll be like this old guy sitting in the crowd, singing all the words and we’re like, ‘what are you doing, dude?’
So there are these little bridges, you know? I think, with their release of new music, you never really know where you hit.
Spotify can work kind of the way Napster was able to get us everywhere if we get on a playlist here and there.
Brad: Are we in that genre? Are we dad rockers? I like that. Yeah.
I… would put you in there. I would put you in there. Are you okay being called dad rockers?
Chadwick: That’s great. I’ve heard that. Maybe cause I’ve been that dad longer.
Brad: Yeah. I’m a new dad.
Are you guys excited to do concerts again? I have to imagine you’re stoked.
Chadwick: We’re a little nervous. I got to the point where I got nervous when I had to leave the house.
Brad: Well, you sat at a red light for so long, and then all of a sudden, it’s just green.
I cannot wait to get out and just have that like cathartic moment of singing with everyone in the room. Those first couple of shows are going to be pretty emotional. It’s going to be awesome.
DISPATCH & O.A.R. SUMMER TOUR 2022 Dates
Tickets go on sale to the general public on Friday, December 10 at noon local time.
For more details, please visit www.dispatch-oar.com.
7/15 – Mesa, AZ – Mesa Amphitheatre
7/16 – Los Angeles, CA – Hollywood Palladium
7/17 – San Diego, CA – Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre
7/19 – Paso Robles, CA – Vina Robles Amphitheatre
7/20 – Rohnert Park, CA – SOMO Village Event Center
7/22 – Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater
7/23 – Redmond, WA – Marymoor Park
7/24 – Bonner, MT – KettleHouse Amphitheater
7/28 – Nampa, ID – Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
7/29 – Salt Lake City, UT – Venue TBD
7/30 – Denver, CO – Fiddler’s Green Amphitheatre
8/5 – Atlanta, GA – Coca-Cola Roxy
8/6 – Nashville, TN – Ascend Amphitheater
8/7 – Columbus, OH – EXPRESS LIVE!
8/9 – Indianapolis, IN – TCU Amphitheater at White River State Park
8/10 – St. Louis, MO – St. Louis Music Park
8/12 – Cleveland, OH – Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
8/13 – Highland Park, IL – Ravinia Festival *on-sale spring 2022
8/14 – Sterling Heights, MI – Michigan Lottery Amphitheatre Freedom Hill
8/15 – Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
8/18 – Philadelphia, PA – TD Pavilion at the Mann
8/19 – Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
8/20 – Mansfield, MA – Xfinity Center
8/21 – Saratoga Springs, NY – Saratoga Performing Arts Center
8/23 – Lewiston, NY – Artpark
8/25 – Bridgeport, CT – Hartford HealthCare Amphitheater
8/26 – Columbia, MD – Merriweather Post Pavilion
8/27 – Wantagh, NY – Northwell Health at Jones Beach Theater
8/28 – Holmdel, NJ – PNC Bank Arts Center
8/30 – Asheville, NC – Salvage Station
8/31 – Charlotte, NC – Charlotte Metro Credit Union Amphitheatre
9/2 – Virginia Beach, VA – Veterans United Home Loans Amphitheater
9/3 – Wilmington, NC – Live Oak Bank Pavilion at Riverfront Park
9/4 – St. Augustine, FL – St. Augustine Amphitheatre
9/8 – Austin, TX – ACL Live at The Moody Theater
9/9 – Houston, TX – The Lawn at White Oak Music Hall
9/10 – Irving, TX – The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory
*July 15 – August 10: joined by Robert Randolph Band
*August 12 – September 10: joined by G. Love
Brandon is the publisher of BroBible. Drop him an email at firstname.lastname@example.org.