Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Dark Star Crashes
Dinger and I went to see Dark Star Orchestra on Saturday night. DSO is basically a Grateful Dead cover band, but they usually take things a little further than that. A recent Pollstar article describes their schtick pretty well:
For those not familiar with Dark Star Orchestra, the band elevates the concept of a Grateful Dead cover band to high art. DSO recreate Dead shows down to the last tiny detail including set lists, song arrangements, and stage positions.
They even go as far as using musical equipment for each performance based upon the technology that existed at the time of the original Dead show being recreated that night.
Add to this the fact that they're really good musicians and you've got a helluva show. The only problem is...well...when they decide to not do this. They occasionally have "Original Setlist" shows, where they just play whatever Dead songs they feel like playing. They play the songs really well, but it negates just about everything that makes them unique. It completely removes the aspect of transporting you back to a real Grateful Dead show and they just turn into another one of the hundreds of Dead cover bands.
I know it sounds pretty anal, but after listening to hundreds of live shows, hearing "Donna" singing on "Stranger" (a song from the 80s - she left the band in '79), mixed with "Mr. Charlie" (from the 70s) and "Waiting For A Miracle" (a song the Dead never even played, although the Jerry Garcia Band did) in the same set can be a bit jarring. It takes a lot of the fun out of it. After every few songs I couldn't help thinking "they'd never do that."
I guess it's just the luck of the draw. The night before they played a classic '77 show. The following show was a nice '74 gig. I've only seen these guys 3 times and this has happened twice. I'll forgive them for the last time. It was a benefit and the real Donna Jean was there. But this time I was a bit disappointed not to get the full-show treatment.
The music I heard was fantastic. The "Shakedown" was just sick and the "Attics" was absolutely beautiful. These guys are really good and I had a pretty good time. I just wish I had known they weren't going to give us a real show. $24 for just another cover band is a bit steep for me.
1: Feel Like A Stranger, Mississippi Half-Step, Me & My Uncle> Big River, They Love Each Other, Cassidy, Mr. Charlie, Waiting for a Miracle, Lazy Lightning>Supplication, Touch of Grey
2: Blow Away, Shakedown, Sailor > Saint, Crazy Fingers> Playin> Drums >Space> Attics of My Life> Throwing Stones> NFA
Encore: King Solomon Marbles> Revolution
Anyway - Here's what the real Grateful Dead were doing 35 years ago tonight. I was probably playing pin-the-tail-on-the-donkey somewhere.
12-5-71 Felt Forum New York, NY
Dark Star ->
Me & My Uncle ->
Dark Star ->
Sitting On Top Of The World