Dark Star Orchestra – Live at Variety Playhouse

No comments

With my son in the Winter Break doldrums, I searched for a concert outing to give him a lift.  Step 1: Look at the concert calendar at my favorite Atlanta venue: Variety Playhouse.  

IMG_5842a

Dark Star Orchestra… a band that plays complete Grateful Dead concerts with the songs in the sequence in which they were first played.  This particular Saturday evening, they played the Dead’s 6/29/76IMG_5793a concert from the Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, IL, plus some extras.  These things matter to Dead Heads.

I’m not a Dead Head.  My son is not either.  Or his best friend, who tagged along. 

I’m familiar with about 3 or 4 of their songs, and none of those were played on 6/29/76.   Maybe if I had caught DSO on another night… because per their website, they play a different show each time they play.  And, this waIMG_5760as their 20th show in 25 days.  That’s quite a repertoire.  Note: If you’re going to make a career as a cover band, choose someone like The Go-Go’s.  Hour and 40 minutes, and you’re done.  Pink Floyd?  Maybe two hours.  The Grateful Dead?  Hour and a half.  Then an intermission.  Then play for another hour and a half.  20 shows in 25 days?  They didn’t show it.

Did they sound like the Grateful Dead?  Likely very similar.  Did their mannerisms match those of the original band members?  I don’t know, but a chance encounter with a friend at the show suggested that they did.  Was it a good show?  Definitely.  It was sold out for a reason.

IMG_5769a

I was curious as to who would attend a Dead cover band show.  Old Dead Heads?  Or new Dead Heads?  Both, and in between.  Musically, they were entertaining.  IMG_5837a When musicians play others’ music, presumably note for note, I guess it’s a credit to the Dead.  In any case, guitarist/singer Jeff Mattson’s solos were varied and interesting, and the other musicians (keyboards, bass, rhythm guitar, two drums, female singer) rounded out the spectrum nicely.  The band had a very relaxed pace between songs.  What was interesting is that the guitarists played the same guitars the entire show, and with minimal foot pedal gimmickry.  That’s rare these days.

IMG_5836a

One of the perils of standing about 5 hours on a concrete floor, besides an aching back, is the unexpected movement of the concert goers.  A 5’8 250 pound guy suddenly swerves in circular motions, clearing space.  A very much enraptured couple dance closely and suggestively enough to… Others suddenly bend forward to light an illicit drug.  And not just the young guys, but the mid-50’s guy who I’d peg as a fed up corporate drone, and the 60+ year old gentleman who apparently still enjoys his youth.  Then there’s tIMG_5816he guy who, although 20 years younger, must also have a bad back because he shifts constantly from left to right, pushing others away inch by inch.  Bah, whatever.  At least I didn’t have a 6’6 inch person stand in front, and I do like to see up close.  The crowd is part of the experience, and they were experiencing just what they wanted – rock n’ roll, drugs, and at least a promise of sex later.  Parting comment here.  If a guy brings a date, and she’s at best, 5’5”, does it really make sense to take her to the floor area where she has no chance of a view?  Just asking.

IMG_5831

I’m still not a Dead Head, but it was a fine Saturday evening.

Set list:

Tennessee Jed
Cassidy
Peggy-O
Mama Tried
Mission In The Rain
Looks Like Rain
Brown Eyed Women
Lazy Lightnin'
Supplication
Row Jimmy
The Music Never Stopped > Might As Well

Intermission

Samson And Delilah
Candyman
Playing In The Band > The Wheel > Playing In The Band Reprise
Saint Stephen > Not Fade Away > Saint Stephen > One More Saturday Night

Encore: U.S. Blues (complete 1976 show)

Extras: Easy Wind > Going Down The Road Feeling Bad

No comments :

Post a Comment