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Monday, October 7

Review and Photos: Dark Star Orchestra - The Wilma Theater - Sept 29th, 2013 - Missoula, MT

Dark Star Orchestra has gone through many changes since it's inception back in 1995.  With multiple talented musicians performing different roles throughout their existence as the quintessential Grateful Dead Cover Band, the one thing that has never changed is in a category chalk full of like minded bands, DSO has always been the go to when it comes to covering the Grateful Dead, that and of course their unique styling where they actually choose a show to play from the Dead's history and they perform it front to back, just as it was back when. 
A heavily touring act, now surpassing the actual amount of shows that The Grateful Dead did in their 30 year career, Dark Star Orchestra has continued to evolve into one of the the premium jam-rock touring acts on the circuit today, and with them booking San Francisco's Fillmore for two night runs at least twice a year, they have staked their claim.  This tour, their Fall 2013 run has them hitting up the West Coast before they move onto the East and South.  On Sunday Sept 29th, 2013 they performed their magic at the Wilma Theater in downtown Missoula and they brought the full power of a Grateful Dead show, with the unique sound that Dark Star Orchestra has nearly perfected in making.
With their new combined lineup consisting of Jeff Mattson on lead guitar and vocals, steadfast leader, singer and rhythm guitarist Rob Eaton, Lisa Mackey as the Donna Jean of the band, Rob Barraco on Keyboards, new bassist Skip Vangelas and dueling drummers: Dino English and Rob Koritz they have found a mix of talented musicians that play incredibly well in the improvisational setting together.  They opened the show to half full venue with a well executed “Cold Rain and Snow” and then a raucous “Hell In A Bucket” then into a super moving run of songs from “Peggy-O”, “Passenger”, “Tom Thumb Blues”, a tear jerking “Dire Wolf” that allowed the band to expand out with “When I Paint My Masterpiece and finishing the set with two Dylan classics “It's All Over Now” and “Tangled Up In Blue”.
The second set allowed the band members to continue to shoulder the burden of carrying on one of the better shows I've seen in a long time.  Now with a nearly full theater they got the tempo moving with “Greatest Story Ever Told>Gimme Some Lovin'>Crazy Fingers>Man Smart>Terrapin Station”....which gave us all a moment to exhale that manifested itself as a very experimental and noticeably fun “Drums>Space”.   Keeping with the theme of covering great songs that The Grateful Dead made even greater they covered “Dear Mr. Fantasy/Hey Jude Finale” and then nailed the coffin together with “Throwing Stones>(an amazing) Black Peter>The Golden Road”. 
The show was completed with a beautiful and elongated “Ripple”, one that left the 1,000+ Missoulian's smiling as they exited the venue on this cold late September night and dispersed into the darkness.
Dark Star Orchestra has been a fearless act from their first show to the the tour they are mastering right now.  Usually covering an already played Grateful Dead show, we were treated to the more rare original setlist. One put together with prestige. They continue to prove that they are the an extraordinary band for excellent music, take the Grateful Dead out of the conversation and you are still left with a dynamic set of masters of craft vocally and musically.  It's this, the latest formation of DSO that grabs you from the side and impresses from the first notes to the last beat.  It cant be stated enough, they aren't to be missed, and with this extensive Fall Tour already in full swing they will be a venue near you soon.
Set One: Cold Rain And Snow ; Hell In A Bucket ; Peggy-O ; Passenger ; Tom Thumb Blues ; Dire Wolf ; When I Paint My Masterpiece ; Cumberland Blues ; It's All Over Now ; Tangled Up In Blue

Set Two: Greatest Story Ever Told > Gimme Some Lovin' > Crazy Fingers > Man Smart (Woman Smarter) > Terrapin Station > drums > space > Dear Mr. Fantasy / Hey Jude finale > Throwing Stones > Black Peter > The Golden Road (To Unlimited Devotion)
Encore: Ripple

Notes: Skip on bass and vocals 

Words: Sammy Martin
Photos: Kevin Kenly
 ©Grateful Music LLC