Saturday, January 02, 2010
12/31/09 - Dark Star Orchestra/The Bridge @ Rams Head Live - Baltimore, MD
This year we headed up to Baltimore again to see Dark Star Orchestra. We did the same thing last year and had a great time. It was the obvious choice for this year.
We got there just after 9:00. The coat-check was already full. Dammit. We caught the last song from The Bridge, who seemed pretty fun. They seem to open for DSO around here often. Maybe next time we'll head in earlier to see them.
This was our first time seeing DSO with their new "Jerry." Their previous "Jerry" was so good he got snatched-up by Phil Lesh and Bob Weir for their current Furthur project. Not a bad gig.
They opened with a short acoustic set which was fun, but not terribly exciting. The electric sets were much better. The new guy didn't disappoint at all. Holy crap is he good. Right off the bat they opened the electric sets with a "Help->Slip->Franklin's" that had quite a few jaws dropping. Wow. Donna Jean Godchaux was in the house and sat in with the band for a few songs. As a former Donna-skeptic I have to admit it was great seeing her again. She sounded fine and looked like she was having a blast. Quite a kick to see her dancing with Father Time at midnight. We left the show early - a little after 1:00am when they went into "Alligator". That indicated to us that they probably had at least 20-30 minutes left and we're too old and tired to hang out that much longer.
The band sounded fine all night. It was an "original setlist" show, which brings me to my beef with DSO. Their schtick is that they cover Grateful Dead shows in their entirety - basically recreating the whole Grateful Dead concert experience. Once in a while they mix things up by playing "original setlist" shows, but they got where they are by covering entire shows (and doing it very well.) I've seen them about 7 times now, and I'm pretty sure 5 of those have been "original setlist" shows. They always sound good, but I find the way they mix things up to be too jarring. I find myself thinking "The Dead would never do that" and it throws me off. It makes me think of them as just another cover band, rather than something unique. Don't get me wrong - the music is always top-notch - but I always leave thinking I didn't quite get what I paid for.
The walk back to the hotel was pretty cold, wet and miserable, but we were treated to the sight of quite a few drunken women (and one guy) throwing-up or being carried home by their friends. Awesome.