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Across the Southeast with moe.

moe.
Lexington & Birmingham
November 9 & 18, 2011

 

Simply put, quality lasts. In this age of planned obsolescence and the derision received by folks who don’t have the latest upgrade, cover or incrementally altered iteration of anything with an “i” in its name, a career that spans decades and boasts quality musical performances like that of the five guys called moe. is an exception to the modern age of consumer thinking. Keeping their sound fresh over 20 years has required a concentrated commitment to mixing everything up in a sonic blender and following their exploratory jams wherever they may lead them.

With the upcoming release of their new album, What Happened to the La Las (due 1/24/12), the band has shown themselves capable of learning new ways of performing, demonstrated in their recent use of iPads and emulators to perform songs in a completely digitalized manner. While this increases the chance that moe. could break into a jam session on an elevator, the overwhelming majority of acclaim they have gathered is from their mastery of things crafted from wood and metal.

In their tradition of road testing material, the songs from their forthcoming release have been cropping up over the last several months and have become fixtures on the most recent run of Southeast dates.

 

moe.
Buster’s Billiards & Backroom
Lexington, KY
November 9, 2011

 

Outside of possibly the most appropriately named venue the band played on their fall tour, Buster’s Billiards, the dedicated gathered early, predicting songs and waiting anxiously for the doors to open. When the appointed hour finally arrived, the moe. faithful flocked in and took their favored places at the front of the stage, a full 90 minutes before the first note was scheduled to be played.  They declared their allegiances with a playfully mocking rivalry between factions, as calls of “Chuck [Garvey] side” and “Al [Schnier] side” rang out while fans gathered in the center — the space dedicated to the bass slapping, sardonic-styled Rob Derhak — stood stoic and bemused, not unlike their hero.

Though the diehards were split by their favoritism, on this night it was clear that the band was in fact a true collaboration, every band member given a chance to shine.

The Lexington crowd was at near-capacity by the time moe. took the stage, greeted like heroes who had come back from some great adventure with treasures and tales of daring and mayhem.

The first song of the night, “Billy Goat,” was one of their newest. The tune, which features a distillation of their classic sound alongside the increased range that percussionist Jim Laughlin brings to the stage, was brought to fruition by its instantly unforgettable chorus: “Ain’t nobody lives forever — No one at all — So hoist the anchor, damn the weather, and answer the call.”

The tune, though fresh, resonated well and started the night off with a bang.

The jams of “Rise” were washed away by the call to arms intro to “Captain America,” which yielded to guitarist Al Schnier’s retelling of a story of an ancient birthday trip to “Mexico” gone horribly awry.  The chorus wail of the line “I don’t even know where I am” was taken up by the crowd, and the frenzied end was as much of a riot in the crowd as it was on the stage, with every pair of arms in the crowd raised in jubilation.  Wisely choosing this moment to end their first set allowed the crowd to regain its composure and prepare itself for a second dose of moe.’s prescription for musical madness.

Coming back out, the band immediately launched into the introspective number, “Okay/Alright,” before bringing out a “Head” sandwich with a tastily hearty “Ricky Martin” middle that had the crowd in full boogie mode with its near disco dance groove.

Another new number and instant crowd-pleaser, “Rainshine,” gave way to “Plane Crash,”the band’s ode to flying that never fails to captivate an audience. Its repetitive use of the phrase “I don’t wanna die” was, on this night, counterpointed by the dueling guitar landscape laid out by Schnier and Chuck Garvey. Subsequently, the dynamic drum duo of Vinnie Amico and Lauderdale took an authoritative  lead, demonstrating the validity of the drum solo.

Walking off to catch their breath after nearly three hours of jamming, the crowd stomped and chanted “We want moe.!” with whatever energy they could muster. Walking back out, Schnier took a moment to read a few announcements from fans in attendance, and to thank the fans for giving the band a reason for doing what they do.  Then, with a bow and a wave, he turned it over to guitarist cohort, Garvey who launched into the first notes of the most predictable encore in recent memory, the setting appropriate “Buster.”

The guitar work was spot on, the drumming was as crisp as it was at any point in the evening, and the music had the feel of a victory lap. Finally crashing down to earth, the show ended and left a room full of smiling faces and echoing ear drums in its wake.  Momentarily overwhelming the hot dog stand outside the club with customers, the fans went home satisfied and truly entertained.

 

moe. (with Zach Deputy)
WorkPlay Theatre
Birmingham, AL
November 18, 2011

 

The moe. fall tour swung down South for the first stop in Alabama in some time, and the sellout crowd was grateful for the chance to get a night of on the fly set list shenanigans. But before moe. took the reins, one-man-music-making wonder, Zach Deputy, got things warmed up with 45 minutes of perma-grin inducing sonic goodness

While 45 minutes is not a long time, on a drizzly Friday night in Birmingham, many wondered if it was enough time for Zach Deputy to aptly get his groove on and relay his musical story for a few thousand of fans who were primarily on the scene for jam-stalwarts, moe. As it turned out, it was plenty of time.

There were many ZD-virgins in the crowd who — over the course of Deputy’s short set —  acquired the full knowledge of Zach’s entertainment abilities, musical sorcery, and crowd pleasing antics.

With no time to waste, Zach immediately cranked up the tunes and looped into full-on layered audio revelry. Deputy channeled James Brown with his funky soul screams and toe-tapping electronic beats. The toe-tapping turned into foot-stomping as he ramped up “Most Don’t Hear Real Music.” The true-to-life lyrics boasted about giving the people “real music” and watching them get on their feet, and the crowd danced unabashedly.

Deputy utilized some of his musical wizardry with a pedal that turned the melody of the guitar into the timbre of a contralto vocal line, and he managed to squeeze old-school hip-hop, soul power, and funky island sounds into the set so successfully that he left the audience blown away.

The party continued as moe. took to the red-hot stage and the sufficiently revved audience. The quintet provided the crowd with one high-energy jam after another, filled with a bevy of voices and a multitude of instrumental accoutrements.

On this evening, guitarist Al Schnier was in charge of calling the plays in the Magic City and he apparently decided that he needed to make a show for the ages. Opening with the always oversized jams of “Seat Of My Pants,” Al’s game plan ran high on classics and diehard-pleasers. Newer tunes like “Suck A Lemon” and “Paper Dragon” gave the first set an element of the future, while a dream pairing of “Bearsong” into “Meat” had the longtime aficionados in seventh heaven. Zach Deputy also returned to the stage to lend his falsetto to a cover of Jimmy Cliff’s “The Harder They Come.”

Letting the dust settle from the explosive first set, moe. came out for round two in a more psychedelic mood, with the songs seeming to lengthen and expand. A 20-minute “She” flowed into a 20-minute “Four” which ran straight into a 20-minute “Yodelittle” as everyone on stage flexed the cohesiveness muscles that have been built up through countless jam sessions in front of countless crowds.

Wisely knowing when to take things to a trancelike state and when to melt faces with unadulterated rock, moe. stirred the crowd to a boiling point with an ambitious “Spine of a Dog.”

A rare cover of the Rolling Stones classic “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking” and its “speed freak jive” drew massive cheers when the opening jam coalesced into the recognizable introductory guitar licks.

Taking a well deserved encore break, the quintet returned with guitarist Al Schnier sporting a mandolin as Chuck Garvey took over lead vocal and guitar duties for the Southwestern-tinged “Shoot First.” Subsequently, the second song of the encore sent the already awestruck crowd into a frenzy as the band jammed into a tune that makes the majority of moe. fans’ top three lists, the passionate ode to adoration, “Rebubula.”

As one, the crowd danced and sang at the top of their lungs, the song building to a peak — a state of musical abandon that had an ever-increasing frenzy building throughout the room. Once again, moe. established themselves as more than just a rock or jam band. They demonstrated why their faithful will declare them as one of the great bands of the modern era.

Capable of making songs that range from silly and mundane to heartfelt and relevant, and doing so with the accomplished adeptness of precision craftsmen and the looseness of amateurs coasting on pure spirit, moe. has seen and done it all.

Between the antics of Zach Deputy and the overwhelming spirited moe. outing, Birmingham was treated to a collective evening of musical splendor that will live on in the minds of those who attended for the foreseeable future.

 

Setlists

Lexington KY
I: Billy Goat, Y.O.Y. > Threw It All Away, Rise > Captain America > Mexico
II: Deep This Time, Letter Home > Okayalright, head. > Ricky Marten > head., Waiting For The Punchline, Rainshine, Plane Crash
E: Buster

Soundboard Recording

Birmingham, Alabama (moe.)
I: Seat of My Pants > Suck a Lemon, That Country Tune, Paper Dragon, The Harder They Come (w/ Zach Deputy), Bearsong > Meat
II: She > Four >  Yodelittle, Spine of a Dog > Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,
E: Shoot First > Rebubula

Soundboard Recording Audience Recording

 

Click the thumbnail(s) to view photos from the shows by Rex Thomson & Brian DeGaetano

 

 

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