Bob and his college buddies are seasoned live music aficionados. Back in the day they saw everyone from The Who to Jethro Tull (not a guy named Jethro, by the way) to Emerson, Lake and Palmer and Humble Pie. The one band that made a lasting impact on them (and many others) was the Grateful Dead.
Bob is admittedly a recovering Dead Head. He saw them first at Illinois State University and lastly at Soldier Field. After Jerry’s death he would go see the remaining band members when they performed in various combinations and bands. When he discovered the Grateful Dead cover band, Dark Star Orchestra, we began to buy tickets to see them when they were in town. This is a hardcore cover band that not only plays Grateful Dead music, but recreates an entire Dead concert from a certain date and city. He and his friends would guess by the set list and band members (or actors playing the band members) when and where that night’s show originally occurred and sometimes actually be right. At the time, still a practicing drinker, I would have used almost any excuse to have a socially acceptable drink or two and these events qualified. When I got sober one of the many difficult confessions I made to my husband was that I really don’t like the Grateful Dead. I tried, but I am not a fan.
Saturday night we went to see another cover band, the Musical Box, whose inspiration is the band Genesis. This group of grown men is currently touring performing a reenactment of the 1976 Trick of the Tail tour. They are not as meticulous as Dark Star in the specifics of each performance, but the idea is the same. I actually like Genesis and in particular the album Trick of the Tail, the only Genesis album that I have any familiarity with (I have no idea how this particular album made it into my collection).
Their performance was very good, though a tad loud (I am officially old) and not all the songs they played were familiar to me. The actors/musicians were all dressed in silly costumes that I can only assume were indicative of the band’s original wardrobe. I mean no one would intentionally wear overalls without a shirt in Chicago in February in 2010, would they? The original laser show (very progressive for it’s time) was recreated and black lights abounded. And the background visuals, supplied by the original band, were probably more appropriate for the original audiences and their recreational drugs of choice.
Which brings me to the highlight of last night’s performance, the audience. It was a predominantly male crowd; most of them in their fifties. There were fathers sharing their love of Genesis with their sons, a sweet sight. For the most part, however, men reliving their glory days surrounded me. They cheered and whistled at the song selections (which was funny because the set list was predetermined) and gave sporadic standing ovations. These men, with graying hair and mortgage payments, sang along with each song; many unselfconsciously playing the air drums or guitar or both. It was really fun to watch. I could totally imagine these guys sitting in their dorm rooms, black lights glowing, headphones on, listening to this stuff after spending some quality time with a one hitter.
The only downside of our evening, Bob is threatening to dig his own black light out of storage. I hope I’ve hidden it well.