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Hardpan

How close do these guys get to the Grateful Dead?

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Hardpan    28

I'm 37 years old, finally got into the Grateful Dead in 1996 after hearing them all my life as the kid of deadhead parents. Saw my first concert with my dad in 1998, The Other Ones. Saw various groups the band members put together over the next 6 or 7 years whenever they were in town. It was always fun. I enjoyed being around the large scene, being young and discovering the dead, cannabis, tripping, beautiful deadhead girls, and the weirdness of everything. The music, however, always struck me, personally, as not quite there. Two lead guitarists clamoring for fills or both laying off and there being no fill, Bob singing Jerry songs, etc. I enjoyed them and was grateful for the time seeing them, but it never struck me add something I had to travel out of state for. Also saw DSO a bunch of times back then, again whenever they were around and always felt they were the best thing going for GD music.

 

Stopped listening to the Dead for around eight years in 2005 after wanting to learn bluegrass. I wanted to absorb that tightness of bluegrass and thought that the looser feel of GD music would contaminate that process. Got frustrated with the northeast bluegrass scene eventually because there weren't enough traditional playing to satisfy what I was after.

 

Got back into the Dead and out of bluegrass music around 2013, and decided, what the heck, check out Dead and Company last summer. Was great to be back at a show. Decided, what the heck, checked out DSO in Northampton and New Haven last fall, and was blown away. I didn't remember this band being as great as they were. Caught them 6 times this spring, another three this summer, and plan on 8 more this fall. I can now understand why people travel to see bands, go on tour, and have a compulsion to see as many shows as possible. I find that being at one of their concerts brings me as high as I've ever felt at any musical event, sometimes complete ecstacy, X factor, the whole package, "all the golden yummies" as Jerry once said. I often think to myself during and after a concert, "how could the Grateful Dead have possibly been better than this?" I find myself appreciating Grateful Dead recordings much more, in anticipation of my next DSO show and the inevitable joy it will bring to my life.  So, enough personal crap, sorry bout that. 

 

All that brings me to the topic. How much better were the Grateful Dead than Dark Star Orchestra? I know, comparisons are  dumb. Believe me, I am extremely grateful for DSO. Just wondering what everyone thinks, particularly regarding the experience. 

 

tl;dr: To all you lucky folks who saw the Grateful Dead: DSO is so fucking good in concert, is it possible that the Grateful Dead were even better? 

Edited by Hardpan
Changed the summary a bit.

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jj3down    123
25 minutes ago, Hardpan said:

All that brings me to the topic. How much better were the Grateful Dead than Dark Star Orchestra? I know, comparisons are  dumb. Believe me, I am extremely grateful for DSO. Just wondering what everyone thinks, particularly regarding the experience. 

 

tl;dr: I love DSO and the Grateful Dead, everyone else here does too, wondering what you think about the similarities and differences between the concert experiences.

 

It's a pointless debate in my opinion.  Impossible to make that deep of a comparison.  GD was forging brand new territory every night.  DSO has that huge repertoire of songs and transitions to draw off of.  DSO is a little more rehearsed.  DSO is far more consistent.  DSO is far less high.  DSO uses a setlist.  The pressure of being the Grateful Dead in the 80's and beyond had worn very thin on the band.  Too much, too fast.

 

As for the scene, the DSO scene is a small, tight laced community.  You really have to compare a time period where the Dead were only drawing 1000-2000 people to make a fair assessment. 

 

I personally like the philosophy that a friend of mine takes... "I don't know if DSO is better than the Dead, but I know I'm a lot better now than I was when the Dead were around.  So I enjoy this time with DSO more." 

 

How it makes you feel is all that really matters.

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Hardpan    28

Thanks for the reply. I guess it really is an apples to oranges kind of thing in many ways. I like the fact that the scene is small, tickets are relatively cheap and it's easy to get right up front, and they are playing lots of beautiful, old theatres.  You are right, the bottom line is that they make me feel great and that is why I go.

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Mojo Hand    34

I've thought a lot about this since discovering DSO.

 

I don't think it's about the players.  I think it's about the music.  Yes.....the GD were the composers, songwriters, and originators of their own category.  Yes.....the band (esp. Jerry) have achieved such hero status in our hearts and imagination that it is hard to put anyone on their level.  However, none of that has anything to do with what's being presented onstage.  I think the only way to analyze your question is to compartmentalize and separate oneself from the lore of the Grateful Dead.

 

I read a Robert Hunter interview once where he says that he and Jerry had a sense at the time that they were writing "music for the ages". 

 

I believe that the GD have given us a remarkably original catalog of music, and showed us a singularly unique spirit with which it can be performed.  Unless I am fooling myself and/or my ears are totally deceiving me, I think DSO is playing the music just as well as the Dead and presenting it in the same spirit that allows for a transcendental experience. 

 

I hope and believe that it is music for the ages.  To my experience,  DSO is the only band with the musicianship and spirit to carry the torch without losing a step.  I hope one day another band comes along that takes the torch from DSO.  It will only be music for the ages if it is performed in the GD sprit on stage....because live music is what this is about. 

 

Granted.....I am of the "touch head" generation and started seeing the band in the '88.  I am sure large venues, time, and other influences changed the GD experience from what it was in the seventies.  So to this fan.....DSO holds somewhat of an unfair advantage.

 

That being said......I get to the same places with DSO as I did with the Dead, and I don't even do psychadelics anymore.  It's all movement and music.  Sorry Hardpan.....that's my long-winded way of saying that I don't experience any quantifiable or qualifying difference between the DSO and GD experience.  It's the music that matters....and both bands Got It!

 

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Tea for Texas    1,224

I think it has a ton to do with when you saw ‘em.  Any regular touring through ‘78 had to be no contest.

The meat of my shows happened 89 - 93.  Spring 1990 and Fall 1991 were just sick.  

 

I find myself saying after a DSO show that they have the IT.  They do - they really do.  Trying to compare is a natural reaction and DSO stands up very well some 20-25Y later after my GD period.  Jerry is the total xfactor though - one in a billion.  Not much of a factor save for some moments after 1991 but when he was really feelin it, there was nothing better.  Simply unbelievable...

 

So glad and thankful for DSO - they are the real deal and we are all lucky to get to see them.  Masters of their craft!

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Vic81    69

Very thankful for DSO. For some of us here like myself who just missed seeing the Dead this band is an absolute blessing. 

I have pretty decent collection of assorted Grateful Dead live releases and basically listen to only channel 23 on Sirius radio. Sometimes when I'm at a DSO show I catch myself waiting for that Jerry liftoff  from Jeff. And most of the time it happens. Or even when the Grateful Dead start getting into those amazing stratospheres of music, I catch it also at DSO shows. To my ear DSO achieves that lift off that so much of the Dead music has. It's been stated here before DSO is a reincarnation and a extension of the GD. DSO is certainly a band beyond description. It's hard to say cover band because how do you really cover Dead music, there's so many twists and turns and dips and dives. No two shows alike. Can't wait for the northeast bombardment of shows. Thank you DSO 

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2muchfun    131
14 hours ago, Tea for Texas said:

I think it has a ton to do with when you saw ‘em.  Any regular touring through ‘78 had to be no contest.

The meat of my shows happened 89 - 93.  Spring 1990 and Fall 1991 were just sick.  

 

I find myself saying after a DSO show that they have the IT.  They do - they really do.  Trying to compare is a natural reaction and DSO stands up very well some 20-25Y later after my GD period.  Jerry is the total xfactor though - one in a billion.  Not much of a factor save for some moments after 1991 but when he was really feelin it, there was nothing better.  Simply unbelievable...

 

So glad and thankful for DSO - they are the real deal and we are all lucky to get to see them.  Masters of their craft!

 

Could not agree more with the "IT" and the fact that DSO is in possession.  GD also possessed (perhaps discovered but certainly not the inventor). Saw shows beginning in 77 but it  took a little bit before I discovered IT. 

DSO premise is to "recreate"

If not for GD there would be nothing as we currently know IT to recreate.

 

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sgrmag2564    39

All I know is when I managed to muster enough energy to drag myself out of the Norva in 2001, (First DSO show) I felt just the same as I did dragging myself out of MSG 9-6-79 (first GD SHOW) 

Peace,

Joe

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I think DSO is not to bad for just a cover band.  Haha.....

 

Of course I thought the same of GD.  

 

I got no 77 shows, and started somewhere in 89.  Maybe no authority on the music, but most certainly a self proclaimed person on how it makes me feel, and DSO most certainly makes me feel. 

 

Is that more or less.......I can't hear the music for you, but I can dance the similar magic GD and DSO both brought, bring, and still makes some cry and others to their knees. 

 

It's special stuff, and DSO should be giving a lot of credit for keeping our history alive, tangible, and of course magical.  

 

Thanks DSO.

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