There aren’t many bands that can stand the test of time. There are even fewer bands that are still vigorously touring and have released over twenty albums in their twenty four years of playing together, including a brand new studio album. moe. is one of these bands. If you don’t know about moe., you might initially be confused by my use of capitalization and punctuation in this article. The band moe. is spelled just as I’ve written it, no capital letters and a period at the end, always. Their fans, similar to the Grateful Dead’s fan base known as “dead heads”, are referred to as moe.rons. The quintet has been a dominant force in the jam band scene for years, whether through an extensive tour, their multiple festivals such as moe.down, the winter version snoe.down, or the Summer Camp Music Festival, or as guests on other festivals such as five of the eleven Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festivals. The band is made up of Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey on dueling guitars, Rob Derhak on bass, Vinnie Amico on drums, and Jim Loughlin on percussion and vibes, which includes an array of instruments.
After coming off a long Memorial Day weekend playing five shows in three days at their annual festival Summer Camp with Umphrey’s McGee, the legendary progressive jam band moe. traveled to New York City for their eleventh album “No Guts, No Glory” release party at Stage 48. Their day started at the offices of the jam band magazine Relix, playing an acoustic show for the staff. They then hit stage 48 for three more sets of music. The first set at Stage 48 was an acoustic set for VIP ticket holders only. The set featured Schnier on mandolin for Blue Eyed Son and the first performance of the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun” since February 12th, 2007. The doors opened up to the rest of us at 9:30 and moe. went on again shortly after 10pm to a sold out packed house. The boys looked as excited as ever to get going again and they started the set with one of my personal favorite moe. songs, the bass slap heavy “32 things”. The crowd went wild and everyone began to dance hard. During their second song, “Water”, an aerial acrobat came out and did a ton of gymnastic dancing moves above us. The guy next to me took out his wallet and threw all of his money into the air. Everyone was having a blast, and the set flowed seamlessly and was high energy throughout. They ended the set with one of moe.’s most well-known songs “Happy Hour Hero” with the one and only Warren Haynes sitting in as a third guitar. Haynes had just played a show with Phil Lesh and Friends in Central Park and made his way over to sit in with moe. afterwards, as I’m sure many music lovers did as well. Everyone went crazy and it was the perfect way to end the set.
To our pleasant surprise, Haynes came out with moe. at the beginning of the second set for a beautiful cover of “Can’t You Hear Me Knock’n” by the Rolling Stones. Haynes thanked the crowd and left the stage after the Stones cover and moe. proceeded to get into their new material. They played the entire album in track order other than passing over the album’s second to last song “The Pines And The Apple Trees”. The second set was special to see. The new album is great and it’s clear the members of moe. are proud of it. The set, as much as I enjoyed seeing it, wasn’t quite as tight as the first. Mind you, moe. was playing their fourth set of the day, coming off a giant music festival a few days before, and played all new music that they aren’t used to playing. With all that in mind, the set was beyond impressive and it was clear to me as well as everyone there that all these new songs have a ton of potential to be implemented into future shows. My favorite song of the set was the bouncy and funky “Same Old Story”, which surprised me because it wasn’t my favorite when I listened to the album before the show. Billy Goat, my favorite studio version track off the new album, was the encore before the members of moe. took a final bow and thanked all of us for coming. Overall, the night was great. If moe. is coming anywhere near you, make sure you catch them. They’ll be touring through mid-July before heading to Japan for the Fuji Rock Festival and two shows in Germany, before returning to the US for the Gathering Of The Vibes Festival and their very own moe.down XV.