Wellmont Theatre

Review: Dark Star Orchestra @ the Wellmont

Dark Star Orchestra @ Wellmont Theatre, May 22

Dark Star Orchestra do what they do so well, and have done it for years, which is precisely why they’re still one of the biggest mysteries in the scene. How is it that a band with this type of built-in conceit and therefore, so much stacked against it before note one is played on a given night, sounds vital?

Dark Star Orchestra – The Wheel (Live in Montclair)

Credit the music, sure. The Grateful Dead catalog is an endlessly malleable and contiguous oeurve; it provides for all of Jerry’s children, with leftovers. But then that alone was never it. There are plenty of keepers of the flame, not least guys named Lesh, Weir, Kreutzmann and Hart. Hundreds of Dead cover bands can do a serviceable Uncle John’s Band and call it a night. There are more than a few who can stick the landing in the Help > Slip > Franklin’s progression and leave a Dead itch scratched. There are others who through technical prowess and verve can provide a fun approximation of Grateful Dead music from A to Z.

But the great Dead cover bands thin to their most distinguished ranks after that, and Dark Star Orchestra is somewhere at the end of that thinning-out: a category of its own for the reason that it so understands the idiom of Grateful Dead music – the songcraft, the improvisational style, the set narrative, the puzzle pieces – that on a good night, it transcends what’s generally expected of even the most technically brilliant, note-perfect tribute groups. READ ON for more from Chad on DSO in Montclair…

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