reCAP :: Dark Star Orchestra :: 2014.05.16

May 23  / Friday
Written By: Chadbyrne R. Dickens

“I’m gonna go for it, it for sure” – Rob Eaton


The old adage rings true, “there is nothing like a Grateful Dead show” and there is no debating that. However, a Dark Star orchestra show may be the next best thing. There are 324 Grateful Dead cover bands according to but none bring an exemplary Grateful Dead experience better than the energetic outfit originally formed in Chicago over a decade ago.

Dark Star Orchestra is Rob Barraco (keys), Rob Eaton (rhythm guitar), Dino English (drums), Rob Koritz (drums), Lisa Mackey (vocals), Jeff Mattson (guitar) and Skip Vangelas (bass). Skip Vangelas became the new bassist in 2013 and he hasn’t missed a beat. The band doesn’t mimic or recreate shows note for note, but rather emulate the legendary rock band’s sound and share their memorable songs from the vast and storied catalog.


Sometimes the band recreates a Grateful Dead concert set list and other times the band shares an original one. On this 2nd show of their spring tour, the band chose a blistering era in Dead history by recreating the Greek Theatre 9/11/81 show. The show took a little while to get going with a paint by numbers “Candyman” and “Little Red Rooster” but fans were rewarded with a scorching version of “Althea” which peaked when Matson sang, “This space is getting hot!” Matson’s style and tone are eerily reminiscent of Garcia and his masterful fingerwork buoys the band’s powerful execution. There was a seamless segue between John Barlow-penned fan favorites, “Lost Sailor” into “St. of Circumstance”, before a scorching “Deal” had the Cap fans dancing with frenzy.


The second set highlights were the energetic opening sandwich of “Feel Like a Stranger” into “Franklin’s Tower” which appeared to receive the most adulation of the night. “He’s Gone” included the iconic lyric, “Nothing left to do but smile smile smile…” A poignant and wistful “Morning Dew” offered a respite to reflect in the music and bask in the moment. Dark Star Orchestra continue to share the Grateful Dead magic to legions of new fans and they more than satisfied those enjoying another night of stellar music at the Cap.

Set List; New Minglewood Blues, They Love Each Other, Mama Tried, Mexicali Blues, Candyman, Little Red Rooster, Cumberland Blues, Beat It On Down The Line, Althea, Lost Sailor>Saint Of Circumstance, Deal

2nd Set: Feel Like A Stranger>Franklin's Tower, The Women Are Smarter, He's Gone>Truckin'>Drums>Space>The Other One>Morning Dew>Johnny B. Goode

Encore: Don't Ease Me In