Recorded at the Val Air Ballroom in Des Moines, Iowa on February 22, 2005, the recent installment of moe.'s Warts and All series of vault recordings, Vol. 5, finds the band in its elemental, jam-happy mode onstage over the course of three discs and 13 songs.
moe. subverts the jam band persona with its ability to bring sharp, involving compositions to the arena in an intensely hard-rocking format. Not unlike its '60s and '70s predecessors Frank Zappa and The Band, moe. can often flip a studio recorded track on its proverbial head in the "live" context, as on Vol. 5.
The core trio of vocalizing guitarists' – Chuck Garvey, Rob Derhak and Al Schnier – flow impenetrably over the powerhouse percussion of Vinnie Amico on drums and Jim Loughlin on beats and piccolo bass, acoustic guitar and mallet kat. Produced by the band and mixed by Steve Young, Vol. 5 has many surprises, including new songs that graced the 2005 tour including "She" and a spacey trance-fusion improvisational stretch that links "Yodelittle" to a set threading "Spine of a Dog," capped off by the audience favorite, "Buster."
With something for almost everyone to ingest, mull over, and ultimately debate and enjoy, moe.'s Warts and All, Vol. 5 proves to be the exception with regards to the overweight onslaught of "in concert" releases, making its mark and highly unusual presence known through the strength of its steadfast determination to turn from conformity.
Warts and All, Vol. 5 is out now on Fat Boy Records.