Dark Star Orchestra offers lookalike performance (photos)
Dark Star Orchestra has been on the right track since 1997. There have been many variations over the years, but the band – which bills itself as a Grateful Dead live concert experience – has continued to grow its fanbase and popularity. concert attendance each year. .
Being a late bloomer in the dead world, I attended my first Grateful Dead show in June 1990. I probably saw about 20 shows before Jerry Garcia died in 1995. That being my past history of Deadness, I was delighted to hear what DSO had to offer.
I had heard good things about DSO over the years and wondered about them, but never felt like traveling a long way to get to a show. Thanks to the Virginia Street Brewhouse, I only had to drive 25 minutes to experience the Grateful Dead again. No more long strange trips for me.
DSO usually plays to much bigger crowds, on much bigger stages. I think Reno was lucky to have them stop at the VSB on their way to other shows in Northern California, including the three-day festival called The Days Between in Loyalton, California. honor of Jerry Garcia.
They are known for playing old Grateful Dead setlists on their shows, and even using gear appropriate for the show’s past era. This set is from August 1, 1973, Jerry Garcia’s 31st birthday (49 years and one day ago on this show). He would have been 80 this year.
Most of the vocals are provided by the two guitarists: Bob Eaton and Jeff Mattson. Eaton joined DSO in 2001 after almost 20 years with another Grateful Dead tribute band. I found it amazing how much he imitates Bob Weir. I’ve never seen this band before, but it only took a few seconds to see how perfectly they fit the role. His gestures, his position, his movements are all perfect. He even sings like Weir.
Mattson was equally impressive playing Garcia’s guitar parts and singing his songs. His soft touch and tone on the guitar was really nice. His voice, especially in the soft and emotional passages of Garcia’s phrasing, was spot on.
Keyboardist Rob Barrasco, who is usually surrounded by keyboards, was the picture of happiness in flip-flops and a headband, smiling as he played. From above, I could see his hands dancing across the keyboard, knowing exactly where to go. He’s a pretty talented player, plus he has an incredible resume.
The rhythm section of Skip Vangelas on bass and Dino English on drums kept things as tight as you could hope. Usually Rob Koritz plays a second drum kit, but there just wasn’t enough room for both drummers. I wonder if they flipped a coin to see who had the night and who played.
The only person who has been with the band since 1997 is singing superstar Lisa Mackay. She went out for a few songs in each set wearing headphones which I believe were just hearing protection as she also had in-ear headphones. (When you’re our age you don’t pay too much attention!) She sang beautiful harmonies.
My opinion of Dark Star Orchestra is that they are at the top of the pyramid of the dead. They do it as well as anyone could do it. Several Grateful Dead members have played with them, and many of them have themselves participated in Grateful Dead member projects. You can’t get a better endorsement than that.
They played 22 songs that night with a break in the middle, starting shortly after 8 p.m. and ending around midnight.
The crowd is always part of a Grateful Dead show, and that crowd played its part too. There were the dancers spinning with their arms waving around, there was a caped man in front, and the whole crowd was in it and happy to be there.
I even met a nice gentleman who spent a good part of his evening refreshing others with his Koza-sen, a Japanese folding fan. I really enjoyed that.
Peace and harmony abounded.
If you’re a Grateful Dead fan, but have been hesitant to attend a Dead tribute show,
because you don’t want to be disappointed,
Have no fear, Dark Star Orchestra is here.
Setlist for August 1, 1973 at Roosevelt Stadium, New Jersey
The Promised Land / Sugaree / The Race Is On / You’re Not Woman Enough / Bird Song / Mexicali Blues / They Love Each Other / Jack Straw / Stella Blue / Big River / Casey Jones
Around and Around / Mississippi Half-Step / Me and My Uncle / Row Jimmy / Dark Star / El Paso / Eyes Of The World / Morning Dew / Sugar Magnolia / Going Down The Road Feeling Bad / One More Saturday Night
Nick McCabe is a Reno-based photojournalist and musician. He’s been touring the Reno-Tahoe area since 2006 and writing articles and reviews since 2012, as well as doing occasional interviews. His musical education and playing experience dates back to 1967. He is a founding member of the Reno Tahoe Forte’ Awards, and he still plays music locally for fun. First concert: Jimi Hendrix. Last concert: we’ll see.