Quite commonly, cover bands find themselves at crappy venues, wedding stages and low budget frat parties, as well as at the butt of jokes. The stereotype is true in many cases, but it seems there is one major outlier within the industry.
Dark Star Orchestra, what could be classified as a Grateful Dead cover act, doesn’t necessarily deny the title of cover band, but recognizes that its show is so much more than just playing Dead material.
“The improvisation is all us. About 90 percent of all music the Grateful Dead played was all improvised,” Rob Koritz, the band’s drummer, said. “So even though we are not playing our own music, we have total freedom to be able to express ourselves individually, which is a far cry from most tribute/cover bands. They are not afforded that freedom.”
With that being said, Dark Star does ultimately pride itself on replicating the Grateful Dead experience almost to a T, with many die-hard fans, as well as members of Grateful Dead itself, praising it for its accuracy.
“We are trying to represent the music as true to the original form as we can,” Koritz said. “You know, we have jazz out there. I kind of equate it to that. People have different treatments of it. You can take a song and play it in so many different styles, but the purists try and play it as close as they can to how it was written, and that’s kind of where we are.”
The painstaking attention to detail and accuracy affords all attendees to experience what may be one of the most legendary live shows of all time, commonly calling youths, such as Koritz, to adopt an entirely different lifestyle.
“My first show was 1987. It was my senior year in high school,” Koritz said regarding his live show experiences with the Grateful Dead. “And over the next eight years, seven years, however long they were together, I managed to see 100 shows. I was on the road a lot. I really got into it. … For me, it was the music. Especially the lyrics. Those were words to live by for me. Once you get on the bus, it’s kind of hard to get off.”
There is an underlying passion to what Dark Star is trying to do. It’s not something it just does, but something it believes in. If nothing else, it’s passion that fuels the journey for these musicians, and good music is bound to come as a result.
“What to expect? Good music,” Koritz said. “People on the stage who really take what they are doing seriously and having fun while they are doing it. [We are] trying to keep this wonderful music alive and turn on different people who didn’t get to see it in its original form.”
Dark Star Orchestra will be playing its unique brand of tribute to the Grateful Dead at The Lyric Oxford Monday. Tickets range from $25 to $45, and the show starts at 7:30 p.m.