moe.ments of brilliance. moe.ments of boredom.

As the set continued I had a good chance to check out my surroundings. The Highline Ballroom is gorgeous, with amazing sightlines taboot. You enter through a set of stairs into a large rectangular space with a small balcony lining most of the sides. The venue is a great-looking room that someone spent A LOT of money to build. One nice touch was the…what would you call her? A roving bartender? A vendor of brew-dogs? A cute chick selling beer? Nice touch. On this night the venue was cramped, but not packed to the gills. The moe.rons were loving this setting where they could fully interact with their heroes.

The show continued and I found myself impressed with moe.’s command of the audience. Shoot First and She Sends Me were both well received, particularly by me, who was down with a couple of five-minute songs after that stretched-out Timmy Tucker. Each time the band finished a segment the crowd would roar with delight; you have to respect a band/audience relationship like that. Everybody there wanted to be moe.’s BFF (AEAE).

32 Things was the highlight of the first set. After some funky verses and choruses, the song dissolved into a sicky sicky call-and-response segment that had each guitarist pushing each other. One thing that was clear over the past few shows I’ve seen is how far Al’s guitar playing has progressed. Al did a great job keeping up with Chuck, when in the past, 32 Things would turn into the Chuck show.

Al

I really dug the jam out of 32 Things as well. At first I thought we would get a Buster, but out of some nicely focused improv came New York City. Sure it sounds cliché, but seeing moe. play New York City in New York City wins the Goosebumps Award. You can’t help but smile as everyone around you dances their ass off and sings along with the band. “I’m coming home again” indeed, moe.

Come second set, moe. busted out The Who’s version of Summertime Blues after a solid Crab Eyes (best chorus lyrics of any song in history?). It was hard to tell this was only the second time moe. played the song, and Al and Chuck even pulled off some nice twin windmill strumming of their guitars throughout the tune.

Jim

Yet another long jam ensued that had some memorable moments, but for the most part I’d call it a wankfest. I enjoyed most of the set, but when Recreational Chemistry started I knew I was in for a really long set closer. I found myself bored pretty quickly once the jam began. The people around me were really digging it though. Even the cute chick selling beer was bouncing along to the beat.

The show ended with a Time Ed encore that led to a full band switch with Fishbone. Why Fishbone? Good question. Fishbone was one of the main influences on moe.’s sound when they were starting out. Al Schnier explained moe.’s early sound to Michael McKinley in October: “Well, when we got together, we all came from pretty different, varied musical backgrounds, but at that point in time we all kind of agreed on Fishbone, the Chili Peppers, Jane’s Addiction, fIREHOSE… trying to think what else… Primus for sure, and Frank Zappa. And those where the things that we were all really into at the same time. Rob, Chuck and I were all just huge fans of all this stuff right at the same time. So, so much of that influenced what we were doing.”

The moe. boys were clearly psyched, though I’m not so sure most of their young audience knew who Fishbone was. moe. has never done anything by the book, and bringing out a guest their crowd didn’t know is a typical brilliant moe. maneuver. You just gotta educate the youth about the great bands of the late ’80s and early ’90s.

I’ve had a few days to look back at the show, and while moe. did a great job of keeping their fans entertained, I found myself bored to tears with some of their jams. If these guys really want to call themselves “indie rockers” and leave the “jamband” label behind altogether, they should go back to their roots and actually concentrate more on their songs than the jams that flow from them. I’m sure the brilliance-to-boredom ratio would drastically improve.

5/2/07

Set 1: McBain > Y.O.Y. > McBain > Lost Along the Way, Down Boy, Seat of My Pants > Akimbo

Set 2: Interstellar Overdrive > Brent Black > Y.O.Y. > McBain, Tailspin > Brent Black
Encore: Sensory Deprivation Bank

5/3/07

Set 1: Timmy Tucker > Livin’ Again, Shoot First, She Sends Me, 32 Things > New York City

Set 2: Crab Eyes, Summertime Blues > George, Lazarus, Captain America > Recreational Chemistry
Encore: Time Ed > moe./Fishbone Jam > Everyday Sunshine**, Alcoholic**

** – w/ Fishbone

5/4/07

Set 1: Understand, Stranger Than Fiction, It, Not Coming Down > Wormwood > 32 [email protected], Happy Hour Hero# > Punchline reprise# > Waiting for the Punchline#

Set 2: Rebubula% > Yodelittle*% > Moth, Four > The Road

Encore: Bearsong

@ completes 5/3/07 version
# w/ Gordon Stone
% unfinished
* w/ Brain Tuba tease

5/5/07

Set 1: Okayalright, Can’t Seem To Find, Wind It Up, Blue Jeans Pizza, Rise > Mexico

Set 2: Spaz Medicine, Where Does the Time Go?, Can’t You Hear Me Knockin’, Meat > Don’t Fuck With Flo > Meat
Encore: Spine of a Dog, Rebubula*

5/6/07

Set 1: Head, Tambourine, Threw It All Away, Paranoid Android, She > St. Augustine

Set 2: Buster > Letter Home, Bullet > The Pit > Bullet
Encore: Gone, Plane Crash

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33 Responses

  1. Great review Scotty!

    I totally agree with your thoughts on the brilliance to bordom ratios at moe. shows.

    I’m not exactly sure that I agree with their self-description (via moe.org) of:
    moe. is…
    Led Zeppelin, Steely Dan and Gram Parsons…

  2. I’ll say off the top, moe. really is a great band. They’re just so hit or miss for me. I enjoyed the second set of that 2nd moe. show much more than the first. Maybe in the first I was still weirded out by the European doormen taking tickets and working the guest list at the Highline. Jeez, I don’t need a member of the Italian World Cup team greeting me with arrogance. Still, the venue was fucking awesome, I’ll be headed back there for sure.

    Here’s a quick SAT analogy…

    Franti and Keller : Festivals :: Timmy Tucker : moe.

    I think I see that song at every show, sometimes twice or three times per show. Theriously.

  3. Nice review Scotty…I wasn’t at this show, but I echo your sentiments of moe. overall. I really love seeing them though and have lately become more forgiving of the really long jams, because sometimes they can be really good. Sometimes, not so much, but that is the life when you’re a jam band. Overall though the times I’ve seen them recently I’ve dug just about everything they threw my way.

  4. I was at the Saturday show and it was a nice mix of shorter song and good jams and sort of restored my faith in why I used to really dig this band.

    Ace – for me Meat seems to be the song that I get every time that I see them. Saturday’s was actually a pretty hot version of it, with Chuck using the mic stand as a slide for his guitar.

  5. Damn I forgot all about that part of Meat, my brain is stuck on the slap bass solo. It was a pretty good mix.

    I felt the same way about the Orpheum show I saw in February. The first set was primarily tight, focused songs and the 2nd had a few epic jams but they mixed in other shorter tunes fairly well. And the epic jam of the night (Rise>Rec Chem) was some of the hottest shit I’ve ever seen, definitely not boring.

  6. enjoyed most of the set, but when Recreational Chemistry started I knew I was in for a really long set closer. I found myself bored pretty quickly once the jam began.
    ^
    You just lost me completely. If you like the shorter songs, then maybe reviewing Jam Bands isnt what you should do ? Sorry. Great article up till then though

  7. I’ve tried moe. numerous times over a decade, and found they are not for me. To be forward, I consider them a penultimate example of a “jam band” who is ignorant of spaces between notes, which results in many moments of sheer overkill! Last time I tried them was the moe./Gov’t Mule double bill at Red Rocks, and generally, the set has its moments for similar reasons Scott implies. However, there was the flip side: Numerous moments of sheer boredom caused by overplaying. If you dig moe., enjoy to the fullest. They simply do not happen for me.

  8. B—-mm—-D ~~~
    >>

    ^^^^
    stay home and do that listening to your ’95 maxell tapes insteading of filling space at a show.

  9. I’ll take that as a compliment Dave, as there were only a few paragraphs left after that line.

    In regards to liking shorter songs and the advice that I should quit reviewing jambands, I made it clear early on I usually like long jams:

    “For many bands, I’d be happy as a pig in slop to see a 30-minute version of a song, but with moe., I just got bored.”

  10. It is a compliment. Great article. I mean it. I love moe. and I have recently gotten very bored at shows myself. But for different reasons. At almost 100 shows I could hear a 50 minute Rec Chem and not complain one bit. moe. is truly a acquired taste.

  11. Nice review Scott. I hear you and the lady had a pimpim’ party that weekend too…

    Yeah, the long jams are always a love hate relationship. I tend to love them, but I understand the monotony they sometimes get into. They don’t tend to “break them down” as much as say the Grateful Dead did – they seem to keep them hovering at a crescendo forever, although they do seem to pull just s little little more out with each note.

    As for what JW said, yeah, that show was WEAK. They came to RR for their first “headlining” show and fell down on the job. You will not find a disagreement from just about everyone. Maybe they were star struck? I don’t know – their only other gig there had been one night in 99 as part of the summer sessions shows, and that was way less of a prominent gig for them…
    That being said, 2006 when they truly headlined (headlined after UM, not a co-bill like with Mule) they tore the roof of the suckah (and there ain’t no roof there…)
    You owe yourself to download that show and check it out. It puts the previous year to shame. Like all Jambands, each night is a hit or miss affair – some bands just do a better job at the show they need to “show up” for…

    Scott G – is that you?? You know who I mean if it is…

    Scott B – you and the lady making Summercamp?

  12. Hey Dave not buying your argument that moe. is an “acquired taste” I think they’ve always been one of the most accessible bands in the jamband world.

  13. You lost me Dude. I don’t see the correlation between being accessible, and being a acquired taste. Yeah they are easily one of the most accessible jam bands out now. I wont deny it. That’s because there style is so diverse they can satisfy people who like all kinds of music. But how would you explain all the people who loath moe. ? I think there the cats ass, and there are many who agree with me. Yet a lot of people loath them. So therefore in my opinion they are a acquired taste. As are most bands.

  14. Could not agree with Dave any more. moe. is most certainly an acquired or unique taste, and I think one of the things I enjoy about moe. is connecting with other who “get” it. There are many fewer (yes, many fewer is legal english) who “get” moe. than MANY other jambands…

  15. People liking and disliking a band has nothing to do with being an acquired taste. An acquired taste for example would be a guy like Tom Waits – who is very polarizing people either love or loathe, but he’s not as accessible as a band that writes catchy songs that make music people would understand why you’d be into them.

  16. Hey Ace…when the Italian dude took your ticket, did he flop on the ground, begin writhing in pain while holding his ankle?

  17. Ha, I can always count on the Jackwater…actually he did that double-handed plea gesture when I threatened to break out the yellow card. Shit, I’d like to see his green card.

  18. I had to laugh out loud at your comments about being bored with the jams. It is pretty much the complete opposite view I have of the jams. To me, they are the best part of the show, ESPECIALLY Recreational Chemistry, which seems to get more insane every time I see it live. At a show when certain songs start, I can often be heard saying to friends, “Ok, I’ll be back.”

    To which the response is something like, “You’re going now??!!”

    “Don’t worry, I’ll be back in time for the jam!” In fact, my dream show (or at least dream set) would be completely instrumental. COme close a few times….

  19. Hmm… a Mule fan (JW) can’t dig moe. I know some Mulers who feel the same way. Funny, this moe. fan completely despises the Mule. I can’t turn Sirius off fast enough when the Mule hits the airwaves. Are they polar opposite bands or something?

  20. The Mulemoe. thing is interesting
    I LOVE Warren. I am really NOT a Mule fan. I Love moe. I have found that to be the case with many peeps. I don’t get it…

  21. scott hit it right on the head for me. ten years ago i saw a moe halloween show and it was pretty damn incredible. last time i saw them was a late nite show at the first vegoose…i couldn’t even make it through the first set. it’s not that the jams are boring all the time, it’s that most of the time every song gets the 10 minute jam treatment. it kind of makes their shows a grind sometimes.

  22. Moe kicks major ass and is in high gear these days, They are no doubt the number one jamband and well on their way to Phish like superstar status. if they play their cards right they won’t burn out like Phish did and won’t let the drugs bring them down. They all seem like grounded dudes but even the best of us has gotten taken down by some narcotic or another. lets hope moe keeps pumping shows out and playing the hell out the country. This band is on fire now!

  23. o_crunk…you hit it! Not every song needs to be 10 minutes, and the key to a great piece of music is not length, but making sure every note and their *spaces* *between* count! Some songs are meant to be short for a reason: Because the points are stated and the moment you get is *right* *there!*

    For the record, I’ve tried moe at least a half-dozen times. This is simply a case of individual tastes and muses — not everyone will like the same thing. Hence, the different comments on both moe. and Gov’t Mule. That said, for those who enjoy moe…do it to the fullest!

  24. First off, thanks for being honest. You don’t have to like moe. Their not for everybody. I understand when you say you don’t like the long jams, because I have friends that say the same thing. For me that’s what really attracts me to moe. I agree that sometimes their jams are’nt great, but name a band that performs steller shows all the time. Anyway I can’t wait to see my next moe. show!( Allgood & moe. down ) See all the good people there.

  25. There is no way moe. will allow themselves to reach “Phish-like superstar status.” They will never play 20,000 seat sheds, unless they are opening for the Allmans or the Who. I think this is a brilliant plan on their part. Too much hassle at those venues and with all those people there for the party rather than the music. Going to a moe. run at the Tabernacle in Atlanta is just short of heaven to me. It will truly be a sad day if they start trying to pack in the Clear Channel venues. But, in most of their interviews, reading b/w the lines reveals that they are not in it for the glory or the ego-building of night after night of the biggest rave under 1 roof. Phish (Trey) blew it; moe. will not.

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