It is comforting to hear those magical words "Welcome to the Fillmore" as the excitement peaks for the next episode of the San Francisco musical saga. On this Thursday night Moe. returned to the hallowed hall of rock and roll for the who-knows-how-manyfth time to give fans of the band, fans of rock music, fans of intricate dual guitar laden jams and probably even some random people just there for some good old Thursday night fun something to write home about.
My own experience with the Moe. is, admittedly minimal, having seen them only once (well, I was there...) in 2004. So, I walked into this show with very little expectation of what I was about to witness. Regardless of any subjective prejudices one might have about the band, it was clear, they showed up to play. Keeping it classy, Moe. took the stage dressed in full formal attire and looking sharp, perhaps foreshadowing the tightness they would be displaying in their improvisational jams. The floor was hovering around 3/4 full as the lights went down and the show started.
Moe. is a quintet from upstate New York and have been together for over 20 years climbing up the musical ladder releasing 17 albums in the process and playing host to their own annual festivals of moe.down and (perhaps somewhat unofficially) Summercamp. The band is comprised of members Rob Derhak with his nasty bass guitar thump who along with drummer Vinnie Amico and auxiliary percussionist Jim Loughlin provide a solid base for the dual guitar gurus Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier batting clean up with their clever guitar interplay and mind shattering solos.
The first set was a variable eruption of molten guitar as the band played quite nearly nonstop through the whole thing. The syncopated Zappa-esque intro of "Crab Eyes" launched the set into itfs beginning, featuring Loughlin on the xylophone who synced up perfectly with Chuck and Al as they barreled along through the tune.@ Seamlessly, they jammed into "Threw It All Away" which featured a massive jam stretching the song to around 20 minutes as the guitar licks started to fly. And, just as easily as they picked it up, they dropped it right back off where the started in "Crab Eyes." After just a moment to catch a breath they released into the progressive funk of "Akimbo" which segued right into the crowd pleaser "Captain America" which saw the crowd really getting into it, dancing and singing along faithfully. Without pause, they invited Ratdogfs guitarist Mark Karan to the stage, filling the mysterious extra amp that was set out, unused for the first 40 minutes of the show. With incredible accuracy, they progressed into an Allman Brothers class "In Memory of Elizabeth Reed" which featured guitar interplay by Al and his guest. The audience roared at the end of the impressive cover before Al ripped out the opening chords of "Moth" as the band plus one led us down another 20 minute guitar solo odyssey, giving each of the three guitarists a chance to stretch out and throw down their hottest licks to end the set with a fury.
After about a half hour of break they returned to the stage and unleashed the opening of a feel good set two which started with the rebel anthem "Okayalright" which segued directly into a decidedly religious number called "St. Augustine." There was a small lull in "George" which jammed into "Down Boy" where I somewhat lost focus and went to grab a drink but, refreshed, was drawn back to the floor out of curiousness when I heard the band yodeling in "Yodelittle." The song dropped abruptly into a much heavier "Spaz Medicine" which picked up momentum before landing in the neurotic tale "Plane Crash" which featured a huge jam that peaked, dropping back into the song with everyone around singing and going wild as Moe. crashed into the end of the second set.@ Returning to the stage for one final time for the evening, the band all manned microphones to sing "Yankee Doodle Dandy" barbershop quartet style before find their way into a searing "Seat of My Pants" to end a really impressive show that I am now writing home about to Kindweb.
Moe. continues to tour through the Midwest and the East Coast throughout March before a three night mid-April run in Denver. Theyfre summer will be full of shows as well as they headline Moe.down and Summercamp in the near future. For more information check out www.Moe.org for more information.
Set 1: Crab Eyes > Threw It All Away > Crab Eyes, Akimbo > Captain America > In Memory Of Elizabeth Reed, Moth.
Set 2: Okayalright > St. Augustine, George > Down Boy, Yodelittle > Spaz Medicine > Plane Crash