Live Review: Dark Star Orchestra @ The Anthem — 12/1/18

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Rob Eaton fronts Dark Star Orchestra at The Anthem on Dec. 1, 2018. (Photo by Ari Strauss)

If you closed your eyes (and inhaled deeply), you would have been convinced you were at a Grateful Dead show when Dark Star Orchestra (DSO) visited The Anthem at Washington DC’s Wharf on Saturday.

Formed in 1997 in Chicago, Dark Star Orchestra tours exhaustively as a tribute band to the Grateful Dead, celebrating the Grateful Dead concert experience for audiences around the world.

DSO offers more than the sound of the Grateful Dead; they encapsulate the energy and the experience as well. Often, the band will dig into the Grateful Dead’s 30-year archive of live performances and present a complete original set list, song by song, and in order, while adapting their phrasing, voice arrangements and specific musical equipment for the various eras of the Grateful Dead shows in which they perform.

“For us it’s a chance to recreate some of the magic that was created for us over the years,” said rhythm guitarist and vocalist Rob Eaton. “We offer a sort of a historical perspective at what it might have been like to go to a show in 1985, 1978, or whenever. Even for Deadheads who can say they’ve been to a hundred shows in the ‘90s, we offer something they never got to see live.”

For their performance at The Anthem on Dec. 1, 2018 [Show #2850], DSO recreated The Dead’s complete show from June 9, 1973, at RFK Stadium:

Setlist:

The Promised Land
Deal
Looks Like Rain
They Love Each Other
Jack Straw
Loose Lucy
Mexicali Blues
Row Jimmy
El Paso
Box of Rain
Sugaree
Beat It on Down the Line
Tennessee Jed

[Intermission]

China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider
He’s Gone > Truckin’ > Playing in the Band
Loser
Me and My Uncle
Mississippi Half-Step Uptown Toodeloo
Big River
Eyes of The World > China Doll > Sugar Magnolia

Filler Mister Charlie

In addition to touring and appearing at some of the nation’s top festivals, DSO has hosted the Dark Star Jubilee, its own annual music festival, for the past six years. The Dark Star Jubilee, held at Legend Valley in Thornville, Ohio, is a three-day music festival with DSO headlining all three nights. Visit the festival’s website for more information.

Watch Dark Star Orchestra perform “Bertha” on July 8, 2018, at the Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Morrison, Colorado, on YouTube:

Dark Star Orchestra is Lisa Mackey (vocals), Rob Koritz (drums), Dino English (drums), Rob Eaton (guitar, vocals), Rob Barraco (keyboards, vocals), Jeff Mattson (guitar, vocals), and Skip Vangelas (bass, vocals).

Check out some photos from Dark Star Orchestra’s performance at The Anthem on Dec. 1, 2018. All images copyright and courtesy of Ari Strauss.

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