With apologies to Dread Zeppelin and Tiny KISS, Dark Star Orchestra might just be the best tribute band in America right now. They don’t wear costumes but every other aspect of DSO is carefully detailed to match the Grateful Dead live experience. The band studies old Dead shows to nail everything from the vocal arrangements and phrasings to the positions in which the original band members stood on stage and the use of vintage music equipment that matches the originators’.
The decade-old band has won over both the Dead’s following and former members and crew (their current live sound engineer did that task for the Dead for 30 years) with their replicated sets, drawing on classic Dead shows from throughout the band’s storied live career. But, given how important live improvisation was with the Dead, it’s the band’s own personalized touch on the “jams” that no doubt gives DSO an edge on other tributers (one has to believe that any variation on solos from, say, a Pink Floyd or Eric Clapton tribute act would be frowned upon). The band’s current tour pulls into Covington’s Madison Theater 7:30 p.m. Thursday. $22-$25.