It was cold and raining when we headed west on I-70 to Hagerstown. But as we crossed over South Mountain the rain stopped and the sky lifted so when we pulled into downtown Hagerstown it turned out to be a lovely evening. Last time we saw Dark Star Orchestra it was at the AllGood Festival and we still had fresh memories of seven live Dead shows. So Dark Star seemed a little too much like "let's pretend this is a Dead show". But now it's five months later and we're ready for some live Dead music, even if it's not being played by the real guys.
For this show DSO was celebrating their 12th anniversary, certainly a longer run then they must have envisioned when they started. As with any DSO show you spend some time trying to guess the period, year, and date (if you're really good) of the Grateful Dead show that they are "recreating". On Wednesday night it was pretty tough as they played several older tunes that were not part of the regular repertoire and they finished with some songs from the 1980's. They also threw in a very nice version of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds". The guessing game ended at the conclusion of the show when they usually announce the date of the original show, this time they said "I guess if it's your birthday you can play whatever the fuck you want". Well of course, you should be able to play whatever the fuck you want on your 12th birthday.
But the music still seemed a little lackluster, not much energy, nothing really wrong, but just didn't get us moving.
The real star of the show was the Maryland Theater in downtown Hagerstown which is almost 100 years old and restored to beautiful condition. As their web site says, "The marvelous acoustics are only surpassed by the wonderful ambiance" and I could not agree more. The room was beautiful, the sound was perfect, there was a great bar in the lobby and the little old ladies taking tickets at the door were enjoying the music as much as the audience. It looked like there were several nice bars and restaurants in the same neighborhood, I will definitely have to get back up here soon to more concerts.
So we headed home not really musically satisfied and as we climbed South Mountain the rain started again and it was back to the real world.
As for Dark Star Orchestra, see my more recent post for the rest of the story....