Dark Star Orchestra Brought the Dead to Life at Revolution

Categories: Concert Review
Deadmandala.jpg
via allthingsdeadicated.com
This image from All Things Deadicated was one of the most eye-catching items on display in the vendor area out front.

Dark Star Orchestra
Saturday, March 3, 2012
Revolution, Fort Lauderdale

Dark Star Orchestra is a catalyst for the Grateful Dead experience, in which kindred folks of various generations gather to collectively let go and be moved. There is a distinct and familiar quality not just to the music but to the environment that produces it. Saturday night, Revolution in Fort Lauderdale played host to this living energy and to all the smiling Deadheads who could fit inside its walls.

Though DSO typically sticks to actual Grateful Dead set lists, occasionally it writes its own, as was the case with this tour-ending show. Clearly, the band treats these occasions as creative opportunities, as was evident in the monstrous and poetic set two. 

The energy from the band and crowd was high throughout the event, which featured explorative jamming, soulful song delivery, and several group sing-alongs within its three hours and 45 minutes of music.

"Help On the Way>Slipknot>Franklin's Tower" opened the evening on an ecstatic note, illuminating faces as they entered the room and getting the boogie up on its feet without delay. The first set also featured sweet renditions of "Here Comes Sunshine," "Bird Song," and a very hot "Music Never Stopped." The latter literally knocked one fan on her ass. She was quickly assisted and provided with lean space up against the wall. The set closed with the rarely played "Rubin and Cherise."

After an intermission, "Playing in the Band" led into a stopless second-set journey. The crowd belted out anthemically "Terrapin Station," "Uncle Johns Band," and "Good Lovin'." A bouquet of shifting moods unfolded in the hallucinatory "drums>space" segment as audience members whistled while lights flashed against the tie-dye backdrop -- together in the woods, the band holding candles.

The elusive poetry of Dylan arrested thought in "Visions of Johanna" before the simplistic relief of "Playing" was brought back. Finally, there was total surrender in the set-closing "Morning Dew," singing "I guess it doesn't matter anyway." A tender jam flowed out of the song.

The show ended on a good note as the mantra chorus of "Hey Jude" swelled until the band brought resolution with the closing of "Uncle John's Band."

There is value in Dark Star's ability to bring the spirit of the Dead to life. Also, though, the personal touches and unique group chemistry are to be appreciated. In moments of heartfelt singing or explorative jamming, what is taking place is not replication but artistic offering in the present. In that space, the Grateful Dead can only be considered a strong influence on the band.

Critic's Notebook

The crowd: Was hugging itself.

Random detail: If you would like water at Revolution for less than $5, please don't bother the bartender. There are little plastic cups in the bathroom that are intended for mouthwash that you can fill using the sink. Do tip the bathroom attendant, though.

By the way: Revolution became Terrapin Station for a short while. Isn't that nice? The church is not the building.

Set list:

Set 1:
Help On the Way>
Slipknot>
Franklin's Tower>
Feel Like a Stranger
Here Comes Sunshine
Lazy Lightning>
Supplication
Box of Rain
Bird Song
The Music Never Stopped
Rubin and Cherise

Set 2:
Playing in the Band>
Terrapin Station>
Uncle John's Band>
Playing Jam>
Good Lovin'>
Drums>
Space>
Saint of Circumstance>
Visions of Johanna>
Playing in the Band>
Morning Dew

Encore:
Hey Jude>
Uncle John's Band (reprise)


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