Saturday, November 23, 2013

Concert Review: The History Of The Grateful Dead Is Alive Through The Dark Star Orchestra

Since the Grateful Dead called it quits after the death of singer/guitarist Jerry Garcia in 1995, there have been numerous tribute band giving fans hope that the Dead's music will live on. One of the premiere Grateful Dead tribute bands is the Dark Star Orchestra (DSO). Beginning in 1997, the DSO have been performing shows based on original setlists from the Grateful Dead's live concert history. The DSO are close to performing their 2,000th show and decided to pay a visit to the Oakdale Theatre as part of their 2013 East Coast Fall Tour.

Grateful Dead fans both young and old filed anxiously into the dome, eagerly awaiting to once again hear the music that lifted their spirits so many times before. As the lights went out shortly after 8:15pm, fumes filled the air as the band started off with "Mississippi Half Step." DSO got the crowd dancing with a cover of "Big River," before slowing the tempo down to a sway with "It Must Have Been The Roses." At times, the band seemed a little disorganized between songs, maybe because they were trying to capture the same magic from their performance that the Grateful Dead did on May 4, 1977. That is the date that DSO picked to duplicate Friday night's at the Oakdale Theatre.

The tempo picked up with "Cassidy" and "Brown Eyed Women," before closing the first set with an amazing rendition of "Dancing In The Street." Lead guitarist Jeff Matson did a masterful job recreating Garcia's guitar solo while newcomer bassist Skip Vangelas kept the band on track.

After a short break, the second set found DSO continuing right where they left off, jamming on "Estimated Prophet" and "Scarlet Begosias," which led beautifully into a blazing performance of "Fire On The Mountain." The band seemed locked in on "Terrapin Station," before closing the second set with highlight of the night. Once the first notes of "Playing In The Band" hit the ears of the audience, everyone tried to carve out a space to dance and express themselves. Lead singer/guitarist Rob Eaton and singer Lisa Mackey found the perfect balance during the chorus, while the band lead the audience on a journey with their performance.

As the hour of midnight approached, Dark Star Orchestra returned to the stage once more, performing the bluesy "Strange Man" lead by Lisa Mackey on vocals. While the original Grateful Dead may only be a memory, the Dark Star Orchestra are alive and well, bringing those memories back to life.

Set 1: Mississippi Half-Step, Big River, They Love Each Other, New Minglewood Blues, It Must Have Been the Roses, Cassidy, Deal, Looks Like Rain, Brown Eyed Women, Dancin' in the Streets

Set 2: Estimated Prophet, Scarlet Begonias, Fire on the Mountain, Terrapin Station, Playin' in the Band, Comes a Time, Playin' in the Band
 
Encore: Strange Man

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