Tickets to the moe. show at Portland, Oregon’s Wonder Ballroom sold out well in advance of their April 15 date. Fans of the band (moe.rons, as they are affectionately known) hadn’t witnessed a full-on Portland throwdown since 2013, and the excitement and enthusiasm was apparent in the line outside the venue before the doors opened.
First up was The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, who undoubtedly added to the quick selling of tickets. Before the stage schedule came out, some were curious as to which band would be headlining. While everyone had their personal preference, it would be hard to go wrong with these two seasoned, entertaining groups. It was a moe. tour however, and The Chris Robinson Brotherhood had one hour to display their brand of psychedelic American rock n’ roll. They made some new fans and sated the already faithful with their solid, playful sounds. It was nice to see veteran musicians having such a great time and genuinely surprising each other as they worked through a set of originals, and only briefly touched on the Black Crowes catalog with a cover of Otis Redding’s “Hard To Handle.”
With fans warmed up and the room filled in, the five members of moe. took the stage and got down to business. They hit the ground running with “Big World,” which transitioned into “Ricky Marten,” and the Wonder Ballroom was set for liftoff. The first set included a longtime fan favorite segue of “Spine Of A Dog” into “Buster” before taking the tempo down a notch for a set ending “Cathedral.”
Having been playing together since around 1990, amazing musical connections are naturally made between the members of moe. The result, if you’re watching from the crowd, is that all of the jamming and segues are somehow effortless. It’s not that broad smiles, “painface” snarls, and general rocking out don’t occur onstage. It’s just that the five members of moe. can work through any song from their vast catalog and pull it off with a nonchalance that belies the complexity of the composition.
Rob Derhak serves as anchorman, playing bass from center stage, flanked by guitar heroes Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, and backed by Vinnie Amico on drums and Jim Loughlin on percussion. The five members serve a whole that is greater than the sum of its parts, everyone holding it down and confidently stepping into the spotlight when its their turn to add flourishes and fuel the jam monster. Schnier might amble over to his keyboard to add some ambience, and when Jim Loughlin busts into a vibraphone run, it adds a whole other dimension to the already full sound.
The second set included a big “The Road” sandwich that contained a few songs, including another longtime fan favorite, “Timmy Tucker.” “Wind It Up” brought the set to a close, and the band returned to finish thing up with a two-song encore, “Stranger Than Fiction” and “Downward Facing Dog.” Fans wanted more, but it had been five hours since The Chris Robinson Brotherhood had stuck the first chord, and it was time to shut it down. Hopefully moe. received a warm enough welcome that they won’t wait quite as long before returning to rock the Rose City once again.
moe., Wonder Ballroom, Portland, Oregon, 4.15.16
Set I: Big World > Ricky Marten > Billy Goat, Do Or Die, Spine Of A Dog > Buster > Cathedral
Set II: Silver Sun, The Road > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Timmy Tucker > The Road, Wind It Up
Encore: Stranger Than Fiction, Downward Facing Dog
The Chris Robinson Brotherhood, Wonder Ballroom, Portland, Oregon, 4.15.16
Leave My Guitar Alone, Ain’t It Hard But Fair, Precious, Precious, Oak Apple Day, Narcissus Soaking Wet, Hard To Handle, Shore Power