Stone Pony Summerstage
Asbury Park, New Jersey
July 3-4, 2009
To celebrate the 233rd anniversary of our nation, moe. once again dropped by the Stone Pony in New Jersey for a weekend of shows.
For two nights (July 3-4) moe. rocked the Summerstage in Asbury Park, treating their hard-core fans and newcomers to a barrage of guitar solo’s combined with amazing percussions and smooth bass-lines from one of the most recognizable voices on the jam band scene for the past decade plus, Rob Derhak. Located in a parking lot in the back of the small bar/music hall, the stage was set up perfectly with a nice view of the beach (which contained fireworks on Saturday). Two nights of beautiful weather provided two amazing sunsets opposite the water.
On Friday, the five musicians came out on stage as the crowd chanted, “We want moe.! We want moe.!” Right away they kicked off the show with two stellar songs, “Hellos” and “Tailspin.” Both of these were a perfect fit for the openers because they really got the crowd groovin’ and movin’ and really set the tone for a good first set. With the dueling guitars of Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier, the flow and energy was radiating into the crowd.
They ended the first set with “Blue Jeans Pizza > Happy Hour Hero > Time Again > 32 Things,” a great stream of songs which featured different styles of music all rolled up into one. Percussionist Jim Loughlin even broke out the washboard during the upbeat “Time Again.”
Though the first set was solid, what came next was really something else. It seemed as though the band gained energy as the night went on; almost as if they fed off the crowd. moe. picked up right where they left off with the set opener, “Queen of Everything.” Drummer Vinnie Amico kept the band going without missing a beat, an amazing feat considering how much music the band had played that night.
The first part of “Brent Black” teamed up with “George” contained one of the most amazing jams one could wish to hear. Combining for 30 minutes of pure guitar power, these two songs were clearly the highlight of the show. It almost seemed as Garvey and Schnier were angry the way they kept trying to one up each other with amazing solos.
To close out the show they finished up the rest of “Brent Black” and left the stage for a few moments before coming to perform their encore song, “Not Coming Down.” Once again they killed it and ended the night so intensely that no one wanted to go home after the song had finished.
The good news was that they didn’t have to go home right away – inside the club was a small stage where Loughlin’s other band Lynch played a post-moe. set to make sure everyone went home happy and ready to rest and prepare for Saturday’s show.
The first set of Saturday’s show contained nine different songs with no breaks. They started off with “Spine of a Dog” and the first half of the song “Buster,” and the quintet continued to impress their fans with their tightness and attention to detail. Following “Second Cousins” Schnier sang the classic Dead tune, “The Other One.” Along with machine-like percussions and superior guitar playing, Derhak pounded the bass during the chorus as he, Chuck and the entire audience helped sing.
After “Big World” and “Ricky Martin,” moe. started to play the first part of a rather funky instrumental song, “McBain.” It featured a great solo by Jim on his vibraphone, an instrument best described as a very large xylophone that provides soft notes perfect for the instrumental tune. Once the jam started to slow down the band kicked it back into gear with “Lazarus” and finally ended with the last part of “Buster.”
During the set-break the sun finally went down and the cloudless sky lit up with a terrific fireworks display. Lasting about a half hour, it really got the crowd amped up for the rest of the show. Once the festivities came to an end, the boys returned once again to a crowd chanting their name. They came to the stage amid roaring applause and opened up with “Captain America,” a great choice considering it was America’s birthday.
Draped in a red, white and blue feather boa and wearing starry sunglasses which he joked were “…definitely Elton John’s glasses,” Rob sang lead on “Sticks and Stones,” the title track of their newest album. A very tight track lacking a long extended jam, it seems as though this song was intended for their newer fans although it wouldn’t be surprising at all to one day hear them tear it up for 10 minutes of extended jamming.
Later in the set they finished what they started earlier and played the last part of “McBain,” which led into a phenomenal combination of rock and jazz fusion called “Time Ed.” At about halfway through Loughlin again showed us his “vibe” chops and kept the music flowing softly until about 16 minutes into the song when Chuck and Al picked it back up and rocked against each other musically to end the set with “Zed Nought Zee.” A huge ovation followed and when they came back on stage for the encore Schnier let the crowd know how he felt by saying “I think you’re all crazy…but you’re awesome too.” Everyone loved it and couldn’t wait to hear one more song before the Fourth of July weekend with moe. came to an end.
Before the song started, as the band was fiddling around with their instruments, Derhak leaned over the stage right above the crowd and let the lucky few pluck the strings to his bass creating strange sounds that only 15 hands and a couple of tongues could make. Al jumped over to his keyboards and was creating weird noises as Chuck jumped in by placing his guitar next to an amp to get some pretty cool feedback, while Loughlin and Amico banged away randomly on the skins all in unison. Somehow with amazing timing and grace the entire band broke into “Seat of My Pants,” and within the first few seconds of the familiar notes the crowd began to sing and jump together full of elation.
Although moe. had finished no one was sad to see them go, because they left it all on the stage. They played two nights of amazing music, hovering at around three hours a show – not to mention the fireworks display separating Saturday’s sets. The positive atmosphere lasted all weekend and everyone went home happy. Another Fourth was in the books for moe. and one can only hope that they catch them again next year for a wonderful celebration of the American dream.