After a brief storm and rain delay, the night featuring Electric Hot Tuna and Dark Star Orchestra began at the legendary Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. Whether fans were preparing for the third night in a monumental three-night Colorado run following two sold-out shows at the Boulder Theater, or just coming in to not miss this Sunday show, the excitement was pouring throughout the venue as Deadheads made their way up the stairs.
The show began almost precisely an hour after the scheduled time from the rain and lightning delay. Electric Hot Tuna came out strong to push the energy to the crowd, igniting the night. Electric Hot Tuna’s prominent guitar shreds rang throughout the amphitheater, giving fans a taste of their heavy rock influence, supported by lengthy jams. Jorma and Jack continued to face each other throughout the night, testing each other’s jams and balancing out the energy of their talent.
With much anticipation, Dark Star Orchestra came next to a large applause from the audience. Rob Barraco, the keyboardist, thanked Electric Hot Tuna for contributing many years of fantastic music to the scene and even reminisced on a memory of them playing until the sun came up at a gig.
As DSO tuned their instruments and started testing out their sounds for the night, the energy was building throughout the crowd. The crowd was full of people of all ages, and their tie-dye shirts were littered throughout the seating area. This event was deemed extremely family-friendly, and you could see different generations that have shared the same love of the Grateful Dead for years.
DSO came out hot with a “Shakedown Street” opener, shining proud purple and green lights on the crowd. The twang and spunk of DSO’s sounds for this “Shakedown” opener fully embodied the Grateful Dead spirit. The band continued throughout the piece harmonizing and layering the familiar lyrics.
After an erupted applause from that high-energy opener, Barraco led the band with his keys into “Mama Tried.” This song was extremely up-tempo, and it seemed as if the whole amphitheater was in unison. DSO continued with spunky and melodic jams leading into “Big River” > “Ramble on Rose.”
Passionate guitar riffs lead us into the next series of “Hell in a Bucket,” into “Brown Eyed Woman.” Jeff Mattson’s powerful and intense vocals rang throughout the night, shouting familiar lyrics that everyone could relate to.
They next transitioned into “Looks Like Rain,” what seemed like an ode to the earlier storm that cooled down the venue and made for clear skies at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre. The moon was also extremely present on this beautiful night on The Rocks, placed directly over the left side of the amphitheater.
DSO closed out the set with funky “Deal” accompanied by the most extended and most powerful jam of the night.
After a brief intermission, DSO came out strong with an upbeat and fiery “Scarlet Begonias,” instantly regaining the crowd attention and energy. The lighting production for the night was mesmerizing and featured circular lights that expanded throughout the night. As the sky got darker, the circular lights expanded throughout the rocks and onto the crowd.
After a lengthy second-set opener, they transitioned into “Fire On The Mountain,” a familiar tune that resonated with a lot of the crowd. Red lights ricocheted and shone throughout the night, matching the tone of the lyrics that were being belted out.
DSO continued to gain energy as the setlist excelled into “Estimated Prophet,” as the crowd simultaneously echoed the lyrics throughout the night. Next came an extended “Terrapin Station,” leading into a deep and dark “Drums” > “Space.” This period of the night allowed the crowd to explore the depths of the sounds that DSO was producing, as well as indulge in the spacey and transcending light production.
Coming back to what seemed like a defined reality, DSO played “Throwing Stones,” into “Black Peter,” being sure to not lose any energy along the way. The surrealism and precision of sound of the Grateful Dead that DSO captures leave the crowd in awe every time. The exactness of this sound continued as they closed with a high-energy “Good Lovin’” into “It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue.”
This Dark Star Orchestra set recreated the Grateful Dead’s Red Rocks set from 9/8/83. This sold-out show at Red Rocks completely embodied the Grateful Dead’s spirit and sound. The Colorado community that continues to relish in this spirit will never fail to keep representing the love and tradition that makes up the Grateful Dead. Attendees left the amphitheater relishing in the community and happiness that was poured in this re-creation.