How To Keep Going When Things Go Wrong: Lessons From a Dispatch Concert.

“Introducing a little chaos into your lifestyle is sometimes the only way to get things done.” — Matt Cheuvront

I went to see Dispatch last week in D.C. They’re a band with a fascinating backstory. They’re a New England-based jam band with a Dave Mathews meets Phish meets Paul Simon kind of vibe. In the late 90s, they got big despite releasing their music without a major label. Then, right as they were starting to go mainstream, they broke up.

But last year, they reunited, and this year, they released their first full-length album in a decade.

Live, they’re fantastic. I’ve seen them a handful of times, and I’d put their show up against any. The show is a ton of fun to go to. The crowd jumps up and down, everyone’s singing along — it’s just a really good time.

But last week in D.C., tons of stuff went wrong at the show. The sound went out during their third song, and again during the fourth. Some guitar strings broke. The band had a few false starts on songs.

But the funniest came about halfway through the set. You know it’s not your night when something like this happens:

Chad Urmston, lead singer of Dispatch: “We’d like to call out some friends to join us on this next song.”

[Stage manager runs out and whispers something in Chad’s ear]

Chad: “Uh, apparently our friends are already driving to Atlanta for tomorrow night’s gig.”

So did the band panic? Did they freak out?

Hell no! They called up four strangers to sing backup vocals on the song instead.

Seriously. They grabbed four random people from the crowd, briefly taught them the chorus, and then started playing.

There’s the Malcolm Gladwell idea that you need to hit 10,000 hours to master any skill. But with a band, you need even more than that.

It’s not just your instruments that you need to master. You also need to learn how to play live — because lots of things can go wrong live. A band like Dispatch has spent so many hours on stage that they’ve mastered how to keep doing work even when everything’s going wrong.

Most people want to plan for the road ahead, but you can’t really plan for most of what’s about to hit you. All you can do is have the confidence to get through bad situations.

You have to stay calm and keep putting one foot in front of the other when it hits.

Dispatch did it last week, and they pulled off a hell of a show — even with all the technical difficulties.

Bravo, boys. One day, may the rest of us learn how to keep going when things go wrong.