Dark Star Orchestra 12/10/10
The Depot – Salt Lake City, UT
Words/Photos by Feliciaevita
If the thunder don’t get you then the lightning will.
— The Grateful Dead (“The Wheel”)

On a hot August day in 1995 when my daughter was skating at the Cottonwood Heights Rec Center, one of the coaches blasted onto the ice wearing jeans and a tie dyed t-shirt.  Uncharacteristic skating coach-wear, her outfit was a tribute to Jerry Garcia, the voice of the Grateful Dead, who had died that day.  And with Garcia’s death came the disbanding of the group named #55 in the top 100 Greatest Artists of All Time, by Rolling Stone magazine.

Dark Star Orchestra‘s psychedelic-rock-folk-R and B-jazz incarnation of the Dead came alive in Salt Lake City at The Depot on Friday.  I broke all sorts of speed records on I-15 getting from my daughter’s ice skating performance in Bountiful.  Fortunately, my parking visualization conveniently kicked in and I got a (legal) spot three cars from the front door.

Utah Deadheads were milling about on two layered vantage points for the concert.  Kodak Perfect Picture Spots were hard to find because The Depot was so crowded, and I found myself hanging off of various balconies to get a few (camera) shots.   Congratulations to The Depot and United Concerts: a great turnout for an event-packed Friday night so close to Christmas.

Clearly, love of the Dead is a multi-generational feeling.  The ageless hippy, bearded, long-haired, tie dye set was in full force.  One group of half a dozen 40- or 50-something guys were behaving like fraternity brothers and toasting to … well, I wasn’t close enough to hear but it looked like a poignant if not spontaneous moment.  Plenty of 20- and 30-somethings, who may have gleaned an appreciation for Garcia-isms from their Deadhead parents, were chatting up a storm.  Sorry I can’t be more specific – I’m a bad judge of people’s ages and it’s not one of those questions you ask.

Dark Star broke into the second set with “China Cat Sunflower” and had the crowd singing along to “I Know You Rider.” Utah’s contingent of Deadheads sang and undulated non-stop for the balance of the evening.  At times, Dark Star took on a garage jam session posture, and rightly so – the Dead were known for such.

The August 20, 1987 set list for the Grateful Dead’s performance at Park West Ski Resort (now The Canyons Ski Resort) was the show’s template. Without the limitation of a lights and/or video show, the “set list” concept was not nearly so well developed during the Dead’s heyday as it is today.  The Dead planned their sets on-stage, literally, and Dark Star Orchestra revives them from Dead concerts and a collection of over 100 Dead hit songs from the Dead’s 30+ year history.

Sandwiched in the middle of the set was “Drums,” a primal percussion drum and electronic marimba duo. Steady dancing turned to jubilation when the band played “Truckin’,” a song about the Dead’s 1970 arrest for possession of various drugs in New Orleans.  And the momentum grew even stronger when the band broke out with “Gimme Some Lovin’.”

Though Dark Star didn’t even play the Dead’s “Dark Star,” the group resurrected the Dead with impeccable authenticity.

Dark star crashes, pouring its light into ashes.
Reason tatters, the forces tear loose from the axis.
Searchlight casting for faults in the clouds of delusion.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Mirror shatters in formless reflections of matter.
Glass hand dissolving to ice petal flowers revolving.
Lady in velvet recedes in the nights of goodbye.
Shall we go, you and I while we can
Through the transitive nightfall of diamonds?

Dark Star capped off the happening shortly before midnight with the carefree summer love song “Sugar Magnolia” and “The Mighty Quinn.”  An evening spent channeling Jerry Garcia?  Dead-on.

Dark Star Orchestra
Rob Eaton, rhythm guitar and vocals
Dino English, drums
Rob Koritz, drums
Lisa Mackey, vocals
Kevin Rosen, bass guitar and vocals
Rob Barraco, keyboard and vocals
Jeff Mattson, lead guitar

Mom, MBA, yogini, concert blogger, urban hiker, flutist, lover of Euro chocolate
View all posts by feliciaevita
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