It's been said that at times, Dark Star Orchestra play the Grateful Dead better than the Grateful Dead. I can testify that at times, this is a true statement. Having seen both bands on numerous occasions, including virtually every Grateful Dead spin-off act such as Further, The Dead, and Ratdog, I can honestly say that for the money, I'd just as soon see DSO.
They have become so good at playing the Grateful Dead and they put so much effort into it, everything else pales in comparison. Jeff Mattson, who plays the part of Jerry Garcia, does so so well, that if you close your eyes, it's virtually impossible to tell the difference between the two. The same can be said about Rob Eaton who plays the part of Bob Weir. (Of course Bob Weir is still playing, but ya get my point.)
The rest of the band follows suit, calculating with precision each note played and placing it perfectly into the musical sphere. Whereas the Grateful Dead would have the occasional off-night and might shrug their way through a song or even a set, you don't seem to get that with DSO. Their focus is their mainstay and despite some improvisation, they don't drift too far away from the script. They are tight, and they hit the right notes at the right time, which is key if one is serious about covering Grateful Dead tunes.
Monday night DSO will bring their Grateful Dead sideshow to the Val Air Ballroom for a night of dancing and righteous fellowship. Tickets are $20 if you bought them early, otherwise they are $25 at the door. Doors open at 7:00 and music starts promptly at 8:00. If you have kicked yourself for having never seen the Dead, this is your chance to get that experience. There is no other band in the world who does it as well as these guys.