moe. Celebrate 30 Years with Free-Flowing Rock and Roll at Revolution Hall in Portland, OR (SHOW REVIEW/PHOTOS)

Buffalo, New York jam stalwarts moe. have been proudly moving along at a steady clip for thirty years. In that time, the band has had some brushes with mainstream success, garnering some radio play or perhaps a song featured in a commercial here or there. But mostly, they have maintained a devoted following of fans (“moe.rons”) who admire the band’s ability to improvise freely on catchy rock and roll songs. On the second stop of their 30th anniversary tour, Friday, February 28th, moe.’s loyal fans flocked to see the band for a sold out performance at Portland, Oregon’s Revolution Hall.

The band would serve up a treat in the very first song, inviting Umphrey’s McGee (who happened to be playing down the street at the Crystal Ballroom) guitarist Brendan Bayliss out for “Crab Eyes”. Fans were treated to a right proper jameo right out of the gate, immediately setting the bar for an energetic show. Set one would stand out for the sequencing, leading off with a version of “Water” that found Chuck Garvey contrasting his proggier guitar licks with Al Schnier’s straight rock chops. This would segue into a mysterious and funky introduction to the punk anthem “meat.” played with a spy theme. Jim Loughlin made his first big impression of several throughout the show during this tune, launching into a frenetic and jazzy vibraphone solo as the band eased into the bluesy folk jammer “It”. Garvey and Schnier would pepper a happy-go-lucky version of “Gone” with simple and effective guitar solos before switching into a version of “Billy Goat” with chunky bass lines and Loughlin’s tabla-like percussion intercut by Schnier’s dramatic and sinister guitar shredding. Here the band was able to stretch out a bit, letting the song morph into a full-on disco jam before closing the set by bringing back the anthemic punk chorus of “meat.” to complete a delicious jam sandwich.

moe. has always been a band that gradually warms up and set two would feature more instrumental highlights. Opening with the dance boogie of “Along For the Ride” with an intro that sounded reminiscent of the Talking Heads classic “Crosseyed and Painless”, the band quickly made their way into the loping country rocker “Waiting For The Punchline” that featured Schnier channeling his inner Don Rich as he served up one twangy solo after another. One of the best moments of the show came in the form of “Godzilla”, with the band giving this longtime favorite a sludgy heavy metal sound only to work in a robotic almost-rap groove that had the audience dancing along. “Jazz Cigarette”, a newer instrumental that lives up to its name with a jazzy lounge vibe, would keep the energy high with hints of electro funk layered in. Rounding the final corner in set two, the band would use “Runaway Overlude” to segue into “Silver Sun” – both off 2014’s No Guts, No Glory – to amplify the more psychedelic nature of their music with the latter featuring a bass-heavy “Echoes”-esque intro straight out of the Pink Floyd playbook.

Though their set may have only contained a few of their best known songs, there was no shortage of highlights. Closing out in a metal and funk vein with a cranked up “Akimbo” before playing a mellow, straightforward version of the catchy rocker “Captain America”, moe. ended their show in Portland on a feel-good note. Even with three decades behind them, the band sounded as vibrant as ever as they continued to carry the torch for jam bands everywhere.

moe. ~ 2/28/20 ~ Revolution Hall ~ Portland, OR

I: Crab Eyes*, Water > meat. > It > Gone, Billy Goat > meat.

II: Along For The Ride >(nh) Waiting For The Punchline, Godzilla > Jazz Cigarette, Runaway Overlude > Silver Sun

Enc: Akimbo, Captain America

{* w/ Brendan Bayliss on guitar ~ Umphrey’s McGee }

All photos by Greg Homolka. 

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