It’s musical heresy to say that the Dark Star Orchestra sounds better than The Grateful Dead, the band they bring back to life on stage. Many deadheads are pleasantly surprised by their chops, their ability to sound like the band they admire so much. You will have a chance to decide this for yourself when the Dark Star Orchestra arrives at The Colonial Theatre on May 22, 2012 at 7:30pm.
They will bring with them song-for-song recreations of Grateful Dead performances. However this isn’t any ordinary tribute band, according to the Washington Post, Dark Star Orchestra is “A cover band for people who don’t like cover bands.” I think it is what the original band would sound like today if fate and time had not interrupted its amazingly long run as one of America’s most musical bands.
The Chicago-based collective satisfies both veteran and newbie Grateful Dead fans by recreating setlists song-for-song as culled from thousands of shows performed by the Dead in their three-decade tenure. Aside from Dark Star’s talents at reviving a relentlessly beloved canon, the collective has retained a consistent following for more than 13 years because in addition to adapting the phrasing, vocal arrangements, and specific musical equipment to stay true to the various eras of Dead shows in which they perform, they simultaneously expand upon the songs with their own improvisations, making their shows both familiar and unique all at once.
Critics and fans aren’t the only ones singing Dark Star Orchestra’s praises. Numerous original members of the Grateful Dead have played alongside DSO and Grateful Dead co-founder Bob Weir has even said, “A couple of times when I had my back to the stage and they started to sing, I had this weird sense that it was Jerry.”