The Last Dispatch

Warning: Passionate, Sappy Post Follows

If you read this blog, you know about my undying devotion to the band State Radio. Chad Urmston, the lead singer, was in Dispatch, arguably the most successful indie bands in music history. However, my experience with Dispatch is limited: a few downloaded songs during college and some car rides with my brother Jake. That didn't stop me from adding filmmaker Helmut Schleppi's documentary Last Dispatch to my Netflix queue. Last Dispatch covers the days leading up to Dispatch's last concert in 2004. After playing together for years, just when they were really making it big (due mostly to fiercely loyal fans, Napster, and hard work) the band broke up in 2002, despite the fact they were on the verge of commercial stardom, and walked away. Basically, they saw themselves become the cliche of ruined bands, and obviously didn't want to become a Behind the Music, so they stopped before it got to that point. They wanted to end on a high note, so they decided to play one last show, outdoors and free to all their fans. They expected between 10-30,000 people; they got 110,000.
I love documentaries, and the vast majority of them leave me in tears because they depress the hell out of me. Last Dispatch still left me in tears, but for good reasons. In this world of selling your soul for money and fame, it was so refreshing, so satisfying to see a group of musicians stay true to themselves and their music and not become pawns of some corporation, refusing to compromise themselves to sell more music, more merch, and more high-priced tickets. When the band finishes their set, thanks the endless sea of fans, and take their final bow, you could see how genuinely thankful and humbled they are by the devotion of their listeners and the fortune of their own situation. Even if you aren't into Dispatch's music, any music lover will enjoy this documentary.

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