Summerfest Recap: Part 3. Dark Star Orchestra, 311

sfest entrance


^ South Gate Entrance

Thursday, July 4th.

A great day for America. A great day for Summer. A great day for music. Dark Star Orchestra, the well-known Grateful Dead cover band notorious for covering exact shows, was slated to headline the Harley- Davidson Roadhouse stage for 2 sets on this fine Thursday night. I saw Phil Lesh and Friends at Summerfest a few years back (coincidentally, also on July 4th), and last summer a small bar band that covered the Dead (called The Greatest Story Ever Told), and I have the Closing of Winterland DVD. I am familiar with The Dead, but I don’t want to give off the impression I know them super well. Because I don’t. I recognized maybe about half the songs that DSO played that night, but I definitely recognize great music when I hear it.

It was so intriguing to walk through the crowd and see the variety of people there. There was the old tye-dye hippies who I wouldn’t doubt have followed GD around in the 80’s. There were the young barefoot hippies dancing in the aisles having a great time. There were the middle aged adults wearing their polos who just wanted to have a good time. And everybody had a good time. The show wasn’t that crowded (in general, all of Summerfest wasn’t crowded that night, as the 4th is their slowest business day) so I was able to mingle around and get all sorts of perspectives on the show.

DSO started shortly after 7:30 and the first set lasted til about 8:45 I want to say. I was curious to what show they were covering; I had heard that they usually have a sign somewhere up on the stage that had the date. There was no sign up there this night, though. The next morning I found out that it was actually an original show. Pretty neat! DSO opened with Samson and Deliah. I may have been the only one who didn’t know all the words to this song (seemed to be a common theme throughout the night). The grooves were flowing and the bleachers were shaking from the first chords and lasted throughout the night. I understand I was not a Grateful Dead show, but it seemed to me like you could have fooled the crowd. The fans were just as into this show as the phans at every Phish show I’ve been to. I loved the energy. Alabama Getaway was the second song of the set, another frenzy the crowd loved. Other first set highlights include Mexicali Blues, Ramble on Rose, and the closing segue of New Minglewood Blues > Deal.

The second set and encore spanned nearly 2 hours I want to say. And this set brought the fire with it. China Cat Sunflower with a segue right into I Know You Rider, two of my actual favorite GD songs. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I understand this is actually a common second set opener for GD in their hey day. I say that because I have just one GD show on my computer, 1987-04-03, and the second set started exactly as that. Another highlight of the second set was Saint Stephen, another one the crowd went crazy for, as well as a raging epic climax to Going Down the Road Feeling Bad that segued out of seemingly nowhere into the Rolling Stones classic (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. The GDTRFB put me in such a trance that while I thought I was recording it, I realized I wasn’t. Oops. I did however, catch the segue that lead into Satisfaction. Hopefully my video captures how much the crowd was enjoying this show.

We all love irony, right? When I saw Phil Lesh on July 4th at Summerfest in ’08, he encored with Box of Rain. So what did DSO encore with? Easy Wind, and Box of Rain. Only makes sense.


DSO – original setlist (source:

1: Samson and Deliah, Alabama Getaway > Greatest Story Ever Told, Hey Pocky Way, Mexicali Blues, Jack-A-Roe, Cassidy, Ramble on Rose, New Minglewood Blues > Deal

2: China Cat Sunflower > I Know You Rider, Feel Like a Stranger, Scarlet Begonias > Drums > Space > Saint Stephen, Aiko Aiko > The Wheel > Going Down the Road Feeling Bad > (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

E: Easy Wind, Box of Rain

My videos:



I Know You Rider:

Feel Like a Stranger:

Saint Stephen:

(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction

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Saturday, July 6th.

“You’ve got to trust your instinct, and let go of regret. You’ve got to bet on yourself, now, star, ’cause that’s your best bet.”

311 is one of my longest favorite bands. One of my older brothers introduced them to me when I was in 1st grade (I think) with the album Soundsystem. I loved it. To this day, 311 always remains in my playlist and I see them every chance I get. 4 shows now, each one of them at Summerfest. Things work out that way when you’re from the Milwaukee area. Although I always wish that they play longer, they really put on a true rock show and it’s always a blast. Always. They love Wisconsin (lead singer Nick Hexum is from Madison) and play what we fans want to hear. I would LOVE to see 311 headlining at next year’s Summer Camp. Make it happen! They are much more insightful and conscious than they appear (they get heavy \mm/) but their lyrics provide thought provoking issues. At the end of each show Hexum says some sort of variation of “Love yourselves, stay positive.” Each summer when they go on tour it’s called “Unity Tour”,  because like all other bands at Scamp, they’re about bringing people together with the common ground of music.

Highlights of the show for me was the opener of Beautiful Disaster, a fan favorite, Freeze Time (my all time favorite 311 song) and the set closing of Amber, Down, Jackpot.

311 setlist (source:

  1. Beautiful Disaster, Sick Tight, Sunset in July, Don’t Tread on Me, My Stoney Baby, Random, You Wouldn’t Believe, Champagne, Time Bomb, Applied Science, Who’s Got the Herb, All Mixed Up, Rub a Dub, Come Original, Freeze Time, Don’t Stay Home, Bass Solo, Nutsymptom, Amber, Down, Jackpot

E: What Was I Thinking, Creatures

My videos:

All Mixed Up:

Rub a Dub, Come Original



Love on!