North Mississippi Allstar February 26, 2010 Highline Ballroom New York, NY Taped and Transferred by T.J. Samulis

Thursday, September 3, 2009

moe. - 08/31/08 - Main Stage

Well here it is: The Grand Finale. The end of moe.down last year was particularly bittersweet knowing moe. would be taking a break from touring for a undetermined amount of time. Nobody could say when we would be rockin’ out to moe. again. Would we have to wait until next year’s moe.down? If there was ever a time to leave it all out there, this was it.

After some fine tuning to get everything just exactly perfect, moe. launched into Tailspin to begin the show. It was an above average version of the song that had a little more of an edge to it than usual. As the song wound down it was apparent Timmy Tucker would follow. This Timmy featured the standard breakdown after the lyrical beginning that kept getting funkier as the tempo slowed. moe. found themselves right into the beginning of Understand instead of completing the chorus of Timmy.

Just like Tailspin, Understand had a more feeling to it. It’s nowhere near the excellence performed in Wallingford, CT in 2007, but it was still pretty good for Understand. Overall the three song segue was a solid start. After a fairly standard versions of Queen of Everything and Down Boy, al. invited Cornmeal to the stage and explained how it was a perfect time and place to try something new. And with that the two bands began Macintyre Range, a song moe. included on their album the Conch.

The song was written by al. about the Adirondack Mountains and has only been performed a handful of times since its debut, but never in a setting like moe.down. Only a couple seconds into the song it was obvious this was going to be something special. What followed is one of my favorite moe.ments ever at the .down. Ever. Period. It’s almost like this song’s entire purpose was to be performed on this night, with these ten musicians onstage, and everyone else on the mountain to serve as witnesses.

moe. took this song from its serene beginning to the overwhelmingly powerful end with Cornmeal to accompany them throughout the journey. The tempo began to increase as rob. took control and led the others into 32 Things. A fiddle, banjo, bass, guitars, and drums all crashing together in perfect harmony…it was madness! You have to listen to this twenty-five minute segment to really understand where I’m coming from. Hands down, it’s in my top three moe.ments of moe.down and very well could be my favorite.

Set two was also full of surprises after the obligatory mayor of moe.ville vote. In a closely contended race Tits and Whiskey edged out Bacon for the crown. George got things started, but was audibled quickly for Happy Hour Hero with Terry and Shannon Lynch on trumpet and saxophone. Horns are always welcomed in HHH. Shannon and Terry barely had time to exit the stage before the heavy bassline of Recreational Chemistry started. It was a welcomed heavy hitter to the set and very moog driven. Overall, this was a solid version of Rec Chem.

The final half of the set included New York City which segued into the last half of George seamlessly. Then in a big surprise the bad no huddled into Roll > Armageddon Jig > Strychnine Waltz. These songs are included in the Timmy Tucker Rock Opera. These three songs haven’t been performed since 4/22/01. The set concluded with a guest appearance from Homer J. Simpson on bass for Plane Crash.

The end was near but not before Wind It Up, some fireworks and version of Monte Python’s Always Look on the Bright Side of Life. It was a fitting way to end the weekend. Overall, this show was probably the best of moe.’s performances from moe.down 9.

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Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Cornmeal - 08/31/08 - Main Stage

Cornmeal was the one band (other than moe.) I was most excited to see at moe.down. Their music is rooted with a traditional bluegrass sound, but it also has an element of folk rock to it. Cornmeal is known to bring a high level of energy to their shows, which is the biggest reason I was excited to see them. They had the difficult task of waking everyone up for the last day of the festival on the main stage. It’s a tough time slot because after two days of partying, somehow festival-goers have to gather every last bit of energy to face the day.

They wasted no time giving everyone some high octane music to shake off the grogginess from the weekend. Cornmeal came out with their guns a blazin’ with a fifteen minute version of River Gap and confirmed why we were here to see them: it’s all about the energy! The Way It Ought To Be > Johnny Put Your Gun Down kept everyone moving as more and more people began heading to the main stage. Working On A Building was a great example of Cornmeal’s “jamgrass” sound. About five minutes into the traditional song the band put their spin on it. Cornmeal extended the middle section to include a fast paced jam eventually returning to the composed ending.

The pace was eventually slowed down from ludicrous speed with one of their more traditional sounding bluegrass songs, Got To Be This Way. Even though a little slower paced, this one was still as uplifting as the rest of the set. The Chicago band wasn’t finished and turned things back up to warp speed as they segued into The Road (not to be confused with the moe. song). This was a true ballad in every sense of the word, spanning eighteen minutes of shredding. In case you’ve been wondering while listening to the recording that’s Allie Kral on fiddle and Wavy Dave Burlingame on banjo and they both straight up wail on this one! The dial was turned once more to ludicrous speed with the last song of their set, Hillbilly Ride.

Sure, my review is probably a little biased because I was really psyched to see these guys for the first time. But I can honestly say they lived up to my expectations and really do bring the energy level immeasurable heights. Luckily for us this wouldn’t be the last time we saw Cornmeal grace the stage with their enthusiasm.

Friday, August 28, 2009

moe. - 08/30/08 - Main Stage

Saturday at the .down is always a busy day for moe. Besides the two sets they play at night, there’s always an hour and a half day set too. This set is usually the first music most people see on Saturday because it’s hard to get motivated after a Friday night rager. It’s always worth it to make sure you’re at the main stage for moe. appetizer.

The set started with Bring It Back Home to warm up, followed by Bearsong. We were invaded by Saranac inflatable bears for this version. Nadine LaFond of Swampadelica joined the guys onstage for All Roads Lead To Home which added that extra special something. She’s a perfect complement to moe. for many numbers off Sticks and Stones. Luckily it wasn’t the last we would see her all weekend. Captain America gave the kids a chance to show off their superhero costumes, which was the theme of the parade this year.

The rest of the set was more than an appetizer, it freakin’ rocked! Waiting For The Punchline was stretched out a little more than usual. Then we were treated to an early afternoon Brent Black with the Duo. I remember thinking as they started that this has the potential to be the best Brent ever with the addition of the Duo. As expected it was a GREAT way to end the set as the band ripped through the beginning as they usually do, but then came the drums section with the Duo. Macro added another layer on keys and helped steer the jam into uncharted waters. Good stuff indeed.

The evening portion of the show started with another rarity, Defrost. This instrumental hasn’t been played since 1997, and caught us off guard. I’d be lying if I said I recognized it. After Crab Eyes Nadine was back onstage to assist with Sticks and Stones and Deep This Time. I’ve always considered Deep This Time my favorite song from S&S, so the opportunity to hear it with Nadine was awesome. The rest of the first set was solid highlighted by a majestic Bring You Down with Jeff Austin of Yonder Mountain String Band on mandolin.

The second set got going with Buster, which is always a good sign of things to come. As the band segued into Runaway Overlude there was a very short instrumental played that almost slipped past the radar. A glimpse at the setlist after the show confirmed it was noted by the band as Shitly. This was the song's debut and after the “hiatus” moe. would continue to build on it and other instrumentals thoughout the year. I’m hopeful we may see some more this year. Runaway Overlude slipped right into She to complete a solid forty minute first half of the set.

The last half of the set was far from conventional. The first distinguishable notes of Hendrix’s Voodoo Child were a surprise and Nadine was out there for her last appearance. She led a vocal chant throughout the song that added her own spin on the classic. Then without little to no warning again (just like the Highline), Fishbone took over the stage. The complete band switch gave Fishbone a solid half hour to jam…and jam they did. I think it was one of the better band switches from recent years because it was cohesive improv with Angelo free styling. The night was capped off with Seat Of My Pants, Spine Of A Dog, and a short Yankee Doodle. It’s tough to say which set of the three I liked best. They were all exceptional for various reasons.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The Brew - 08/30/08 - Beer Tent

The Brew is one band at moe.down that may have been hyped more than anyone in recent years. Primarily by word of mouth this group has gotten their name out there. With the exception of Chances Reaching that plays constantly on Jam On, many haven't even heard a note of another song. This was solely because of the dedication of a small but growing group of hardcores. It payed off because The Brew received a generous three sets in the beer tent.

I don't mean to sound negative. I really have nothing against The Brew, in fact I find it admirable. I found it amazing that they built that kind of loyal following in a short amount of time. After talking with a couple of these diehards before their sets, they had me convinced The Brew had something special planned. The first set started off nicely with Hunters Moon and followed shortly after with their first cover of the day. It was Queen's Princes of the Universe.

The Boston based four piece had a really tight sound. Not only could they sing but they wrote some interesting lyrics that I liked. Some of my favorite were in Machine to open the second set:
I don't know if your life is like mine but
I think that its moving too fast
Pressure of tomorrow keeps pressing my mind
I got no time to think about the past
For my money, the second set was the best. Beginning with Machine and continuing through Birds on the Window and Sharks in the Pool, it was money. Then The Brew busts out the ole' Fourplay> Longtime by Boston. They did the often covered (but always rockin'!) song justice. It probably couldn't of been done better. Swiss Radio to end the set was pretty bad ass too.

The ____ as they are sometimes referred to now made me a believer with the second set. I'd check them out whenever they come around, but it seems like they're never visiting Philadelphia (with the exception of Awesometown). They do travel south of Boston and will be at The Note in West Chester with The Heavy Pets and Codename in October. That's sure to be a great show!

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The Bridge - 08/31/08 - Beer Tent

There was a Rolling Stone article published in April 2008 that proclaimed Baltimore to have the best music scene in the country. I don’t think I was the only person scratching my head at that one. It’s not that I have anything bad to say about the Baltimore music scene; in fact I frequent many venues in the area like Sonar and Rams Head Live, but to declare it as the best is a pretty bold statement. The article points out how much of the scene in Baltimore may go unnoticed nationally because of the underground nature of punk and hip hop that thrive in the area.

One band from Baltimore that has branched out of the area is The Bridge. After this article was written and their performance at moe.down, The Bridge released their third album titled Blind Man’s Hill. Like most grass root efforts, The Band has built up a solid fan base by touring relentlessly and getting their music out there. They have brought a brand of bluesy rock to the appropriate audiences and continue to have success because of it.

The Bridge wrapped up a busy month of touring that included opening for Mike Gordon with a performance at the Beer Tent on Sunday. They showcased some tracks from the new album including Let Me Off This Train and Poison Wine. Although most of my memorable moments included the bluesy rock numbers like Brother Don't, The Bridge still displayed their array of influences throughout the set. Heavy Water, also included on the newest release, was the last tune they played and let the band stretch out and build some intense layers with the blues/funk incorporated. I remember a lot of happy and impressed people leaving the tent after their performance.

Monday, August 24, 2009

Macpodz - 08/31/08 - Beer Tent


I've always believed good things really do come to those who wait. For the Macpodz and the eager fans with their dancin' pants on, the wait was a little longer than expected at the Beer Tent Sunday night. Levon Helm and his band took more than the allotted time to setup and subsequently cut into the Podz first of two sets. It was no matter to this young promising band from Ann Arbor. They still had two sets surrounding moe.'s performance to unleash their self-proclaimed "disco bebop."

So what is "disco bebop?" I think the entire first set served as a good primer, but the real exhibition didn't get underway until the second. The Macpodz wasted no time jumping right into their improvisational, jazz infused set with 89 Miles. This and Give Me The Heat are two of my favorites from the first set. The horns are the first thing that grab you as they take most of the leads, but the rhythm section fills in nicely to form some nice grooves. A "jamband" without a guitar in the mix is a rarity, however it's really unnecessary this this group. The Podz got a lot of hype leading up to this weekend and met those expectations nicely.

The second set was practically a complete segue starting off with a rippin' You Got Me. I gotta admit these guys can groove! I think they definitely won some fans on this night. Unlike some other larger scale festivals, moe.down really gives more attention to up and coming bands like this. With the two stages practically yards from one another, everyone is inclined to migrate to the music. This was the kickoff to the Macpodz east coast tour and continuing in 2009 they expanded in other regions too. They've got my endorsement... Check'em out when they make a stop in your town.

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Friday, August 14, 2009

Fishbone - 08/30/08 - Main Stage

It's after midnight at the Highline Ballroom in New York city. moe. was wrapping up their second night of a five night engagement to open the new venue in 2007. Just as they were sinking into a transient Time Ed we notice more people gathering side stage. There wasn't much warning, just a barely audible chant repeated by rob. "Fishbone...fishbone..." moe. left Fishbone an unsuspecting audience to have their way with. For the next twenty minutes Fishbone hit us with an onslaught of ska rhythm and punk rock, while finding an opportunity for a stage dive or two. It was so intense moe. decided it was too tough of an act to follow and decided that was the end of the show. We never knew what hit us.

At least when Fishbone took the stage at moe.down we had ample warning. Although sometimes forgotten in the discussion, this band was responsible for pioneering the reggae, rap, rock, punk movement (Whatever you want to call it...think Sublime) in the early nineties. But before Sublime was topping the charts Fishbone was playing a packed Wetlands till 4am or later. It has been said by al. that Fishbone was one of the bands moe. aspired to be like as a young, upcoming band. It must have been very humbling to have them play at the .down. I guess one of the best parts about throwing your own festival is you get front row seats for any act you want:

It didn't take long for this unruly irreverent bunch to get the crowd moving. I still can't believe the energy Angelo brings to the stage! He can give anyone a run for their money when riling the crowd onstage in his iconic garb. Fishbone celebrated the beautiful weather in their own way with a killer version of Everyday Sunshine. Ma and Pa was dedicated to all the hopeless hot nuts mother fuckers who let the baby come through and don't know what to do..."Hey ma and pa what the he'll is wrong with y'all?" The band played homage to Sublime with a cover of Date Rape citing "It's so good I wished I wrote it." Premadawnutt and Bonin' In The Boneyard kept the set nice and classy covering subjects like rainbows coming out your ass and, well, I don't think the latter needs explaining.

It was expected that Fishbone would be one act to steal the show and they certainly didn't disappoint. After singing about fat chicks, alcoholics and endorsing Tits and Whiskey for Mayor of moe.ville they ended the set with Party At Ground Zero. I can only imagine what it was like seeing their original lineup packed tightly in the Wetlands twenty years ago. You would be lucky to leave in one piece with the piercing horns, chest thumping low end and airborne band members.

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Thursday, August 13, 2009

The Duo - 08/30/08 - Main Stage

Joe Russo must have been paid overtime for moe.down last year. Although he didn’t reach Warren Haynes sit-in status, he was still able to find his way onstage a few times over the weekend. A day after his performance with American Babies, Russo was back at it with his own band. This time, sitting across from his band mate Marco Benevento, the Duo welcomed everyone back to the main stage Saturday afternoon.

The Duo has developed their own sound over the course of their career that started in 2002. Perhaps this uniqueness is attributed to the fact they grew up together. It's a distinguishable looseness that makes them interesting. They have become known as an act that can bring the heat with whoever they share the stage with, but sometimes it's nice to just get some straight up Duo.

Benevento and Russo mixed things up with some shorter numbers like Sunnys, Blood Not Sap and Echo Park while delving into so more eccentric stuff. They can develop a simple beat and manipulate it with just drums and keys into a sonic landscape of sounds crashing into one another. This is most apparent in some of my favorites like Play Pause Stop, Goat! and Scratchitti.

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Monday, August 10, 2009

American Babies - 08/29/08 - Main Stage

Brothers Past is a band from West Chester, PA that has a loyal following. Depending on where you’re from there’s a good chance you’ve never heard of them… or you hear too much about them. The band typically falls into the jamband category, but they also incorporate a lot of electronic almost industrial sounds in their songs. The band went through a transition period when their original drummer Rick Lowenberg left the band to pursue other interests in late June 2006.

It was about this same time guitarist Tom Hamilton branched out musically. While remaining with Brothers Past, Tom surrounded himself with some pretty extraordinary musicians including friends Joe Russo and Scott Metzger. The band formed and American Babies released a self titled album in 2007 that showcased Tom’s songwriting ability.

American Babies opened the main stage for the weekend and performed many songs from the debut album. The first time I heard songs from it I was thrown for a loop. I’ve known these guys playing in jambands. Instead of half hour, nonstop segments of music they offered radio friendly tunes. This didn’t sound anything like BP, the Duo or Electron. I don’t know if you’d categorize this as indie rock or alt country. It was a step out of the norm, which as artists they probably enjoy. If anything it shows their diversity, especially noticeable with Tom’s writing style.

You can find American Babies getting more air on XPN, and deservedly so. They ofter perform around Philadelphia and New York area venues like the World CafĂ© Live. They're no strangers to touring and festivals across the country. Don’t worry Brothers Past is still around too. Some of my favorite tunes worth checking out would be Blue Skies, Swimming At Night, Rocker, Tonight I’ll Be Staying Here With You and Broken English.

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Thursday, August 6, 2009

moe. - 08/29/08 - Main Stage

There is one performance every calendar year for moe. that has the potential to be an absolute smoker: Friday night of the .down. The band gets started much later than any other day of the weekend, they play one two hour set and everyone is juiced by the time it starts. You can feel the excitement every year. More times than not, moe. delivers the goods. Godzilla to open 2006, Wank>Reboob>Cornflake>Rec Chem to open 2005, meat. with Jon Fishman in 2002 and then again with Mike Gordon in 2004 are just a few standout moe.ments. I won’t even get into what went down in 2001, but if you’ve never listened to it what are you doing here?!?! Find it on the archive.org and take it for a spin or better yet get Dr. Stan’s Prescription Volume 2, an officially released master version of the show.

With expectations always high and the adrenaline pumping, moe. took the stage and wasted no time getting down to business. Jumping right into Spaz Medicine was an appropriate selection to start the night before they moved into Blue Jeans Pizza. The BJP was good but it would be hard to top the one performed with Page McConnell on Friday night in 2006.

Following this rob. lethargically comments, “Here we are again…we haven’t played this next song for a couple years.” And just like that they bust out Funky Reuben. A couple years may have been a little bit of an understatement because the last known performance was February 15th, 1992. I mean…it’s only been sixteen years and an estimated 1,552 shows since anyone’s heard a Reuben. Pretty, pretty…pretty good start.

Letter Home followed and is still one of those songs I love to hear at moe.down. “Dog days of summer further on down the road. All the kids keep dancing long after the show…My home, my heart, my best friends.” It really exemplifies the state of mind in Turin on Labor Day. moe. extended the segue nicely into Okayalright with Chuck and al. exchanging leads. I’ll agree they aren’t two heavy hitting songs, but overall they were well played and fit perfectly into this set.

moe.down got it’s first taste of Darkness next, a song off Sticks and Stones released in early 2008. The segue was spot on, while the band awaited the arrival of Bela Fleck. It was almost a given Bela would be the first guest of the weekend welcomed to the stage. He kept the improv going and practically led the band into Shoot First. I’ve never been a huge fan of the song, but this version is stellar. Between Chuck’s slide guitar work and Bela filling the space on banjo it was incredible and probably the longest version I’ve ever heard, in the best possible way.

Playfully teasing Bathtub Gin as Bela left the stage, the segues continued into The Road. “Time, time keeps rollin’ on, I think I got one comin’ on, and I’ve got to get away from here, I gotta get back to the Road.” It’s always been a favorite of mine. One reason is because it lends itself to some great jamming. This jam lead us right into Rebubula. Looking at the stats, it’s confirmed to be the first Road>Rebubula. Pretty amazing considering Reboob is one of most played moe. songs.

The end was near, but not before a 22 minute Boob. Blah, blah, blah…al.nouncements...wait…what? Tonight Jon Merin turns 250! That’s right Jon saw his 250th show tonight. Shame on you if you don’t know The Merin is by now. His FOB recording probably smokes mine. Keep handling that tape machine :-) It’s much more important than Vinnie and his life partner Glenn winning the golf tournament, hehe. GIVE US SOME MOE.!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

We were finger lickin’ the scary chicken as Sensory Deprivation Bank ended the show and sent us to reel into the night. I will say leaving the show I wasn’t blown away, but listening back, it has all the makings of a great set. It has to grow on you. It’s not 08/31/01 but this set deserves some respect.

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Wednesday, August 5, 2009

POTUSA - 08/31/08 - Main Stage

"THESE ARE THE GOOD TIMES PEOPLE!" or "These are THE GOOD TIMES PEOPLE!" or "THESE ARE the good times people!"

It’d be hard to find a person in their mid to late twenties who hasn’t heard of the Presidents of the United States Of America (POTUSA). Their catchy songs were all over the airwaves in the early nineties. Ah the nineties…The same generation that brought us the peak of grunge and gangster rap. Wedged in between lyrics like, “Come dowsed in mud, soaked in bleach as I want you to be…as a trend, as a friend, as an old memoria.” and “Ain't nuttin but a G thang, baaaaabay! Two loc'ed out niggaz so we're craaaaazay! Death Row is the label that paaaaays me,” POTUSA were finding their own success with “Movin’ to the country…I’m gonna eat a lot of peaches.” They weren’t exactly tackling the same dark issues of the other genres.

Still, POTUSA found their niche and remain just as recognizable as Nirvana or Dr. Dre. They’ve been through a couple breakups but have reappeared of late. In 2004 the band formed their own label called PUSA Inc. and released one album titled Love Everybody. Around the same time the band was granted the rights to their acclaimed first album and re-released a ten year anniversary edition. Their newest album just came out last year.

moe.down has always played host to these “blast from the past” bands, which I’m sure al. is behind. I was expecting some nostalgia, but other than that I didn’t know what to expect. Could they still kick out the jams? It didn’t take long for them to start rockin’ with an awesome Kitty>Superstition> Kitty. Just like they did in the early nineties, the band blew through songs in their catalogue everyone was expecting to hear. Chris Ballew really impressed me as a front man. His voice sounded great, had a great sense of humor and really played to the crowd. To say their set was enjoyable would be an understatement.

And guess what? The newer material they played was just as poppy and listenable as Lump, Peaches, and Dune Buggy. If you liked POTUSA back in the day definitely check them out. You’ll immediately remember why you liked them. Although not as extensive as other bands, they do still make it out on road and are well worth it. Check out Mixed Up S.O.B., Ghosts Are Everywhere, or Rot In The Sun and see for yourself.

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Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Yonder Mountain String Band - 08/30/08 - Main Stage

For me, Yonder Mountain String Band was one of those bands I never got a chance to see for one reason or the other. I’ve had a great interested in them, but there was always something else going on which prevented me from getting to the show. Such is life… One month shy of their tenth year together I finally got the opportunity. That’s the beauty of moe.down. You get to a chance to see those bands you’ve been meaning to catch when they come thru your town.

It was the end of a beautify Saturday of moe.down. The sun was setting and air was beginning to cool; a perfect forecast for the Adirondacks in late August. The band treated us to a rocking set of tunes both old and new. I can honestly say this is one of my best recordings of the weekend. The FOH mix was just perfect. Plus the combination of cardiod microphones with bluegrass music is always a winning combo.

The set started off with Casualty and the Rolling Stones’ No Expectations, a cover they’ve played countless times before. Other standouts for me were If Loving You Is Killing Me…, Troubled Mind and Idaho. By the end of the set YMSB hit their stride and delivered a blistering Snow On The Pines. This one was dedicated to Chad Alexander, a soldier they met in the airport on his way to Iraq. The song, which was included on the first version on Mountain Tracks, has to be my highlight. The heartfelt singing accompanied by some fast pickin’ was executed perfectly. The recording is worth checking out for this song alone.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

U-Melt - 08/29/08 - Beer Tent

We are only one month away from the 10th annual moe.down. The music festival (hosted by moe. of course) will be held Labor Day weekend at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY. Snow Ridge has graciously opened their gates for every moe.down since its inception a decade ago. From humble beginnings, moe.down has continuously grown in size over the years. Every moe.ron knows if you can only make one show a year, the .down is the place you want to be. The tenth go-around is bound to be the best yet.

August can feel like an eternity for those waiting to make the pilgrimage to Turin. By the last week we are stir-crazy with anticipation. To help with the excruciating wait I decided to provide a complete review of last year's festivities leading up to Labor Day weekend. Luckily I have the audio recordings to accompany each review.

Last year I decided to attempt an impossible mission: Record every note played at moe.down. The motivation behind it was simple. Each year after moe.down there's always a couple performances that go untaped. I wanted audio documentation of everything. It would be a daunting task that required two recording rigs (one for each stage) and a lot of running up and down the mountain between sets. I set out with enough batteries and SD cards to last the whole weekend. With the exception of a late night moose sighting, it was a success.

We begin the retrospect with the three set performance by U-Melt on Friday at the beer tent. Its a very desirable slot to be granted because the band receives the most time on stage and are the last band to play before moe. hits the stage Friday night. If you're lucky enough to get it you have to bring your A game. U-Melt did just that.

The band took the stage while people were still gathering, but by the time they finished a captive audience had assembled. U-Melt wasted no time and got into some heavy jamming in their first set highlighted by Marvin the Pussy and everything that followed. The guys bobbed and weaved their way through A Portrait of Kismet. They briefly slowed down the tempo with Disclaimer/Disillusion only to build it back up with Schizophrenia. The bar was definitely set high for the next two sets.

The beginning of the second set showcased U-Melts versatility as they combined soaring guitar solos with blistering drum fills and funky riffs on keys. They maneuvered through Panacea > A Robbins Tale 1 and 2 > Escape > Pura Vida creating some unique jams as they went. They capped off the set with an ode to Michael Jackson for his 50th birthday (sadly his last R.I.P.). The medley had everyone getting down. The night was young, the freaks were out and moe.down had begun. U-Melt had people dancing atop picnic tables by the end of the second set. Thriller was an appropriate choice to end the second set, complete with Vincent Price's voice-over.

U-Melt wasn't finished with the segues and seamlessly combined Green Amber > Elysian Fields > Clear Light for their third set. This band really impressed me and continues to tour relentlessly. Their dedication has earned them some great gigs that gain them more exposure. This show marked their fifth year as a band. I think a couple years down the road this will be viewed as one of U-Melt's more memorable performances.

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Friday, July 24, 2009

moe. - 07/23/09 - Grand Opera House

"Hi, I'm in Delaware."

You would never know tucked in the heart of Wilmington there is a little gem of a live music venue. The Grand Opera House has more charm and character than most of the multimillion dollar blockbuster places built today. The Grand, built in 1871, has withstood the test of time. It has gone from hosting vaudeville acts at the turn of the century to welcoming moe. a hundred years later. Because of restoration projects from 1971 to 1973 the theater maintains the same mystique of when it first opened. I setup the mics right on the isle six rows from the stage. Having been here for Umphrey's McGee once before I knew this would be the sweet spot for taping. Turns out I was right because this is arguably my best recording of 2009. This is also due to the very respectful crowd around us.

The night began fairly standard with Tailspin, Shoot First and Bring It Back Home. Then, completely out of left field we are treated to Awesome Gary. "Ex-squeeze me? Baking Powder?" moe. blasted through only the second Gary they've played in ten years. It was, well...AWESOME!

Opium followed and segued into Spaz Medicine, which would be a taste of things to come in the second set. It was a nice patient jam complete with a Brent Black tease. Patience was the theme of the night from this point. The band seemed to play with a focus on not rushing things and letting the segues develop almost by themselves. A bouncy uplifting segue lead us into Buster to close the set. This Buster built gradually with some interesting themes about half way through.

It also gave Jason Huffer, moe.'s newly appointed lighting director, a song to light up this great canvas of a theater. His timing was slightly off, but he's only been on the job since Summercamp and will get better with time. He's a little more in your face than Hans and, in my opinion, a keeper.

The second set opened with the one-two punch of Seat Of My Pants and Dr. Graffenberg. I've been craving Dr. G for a long time and this one didn't disappoint. It wasn't the longest, but it built patiently until the climatic ending. These two songs were a great choice to start the second set because it got the tempo moving a little faster than the first.

The Water > Bearsong was another great one-two punch. You could tell the band was ready to jump right into Bearsong, but al. needed a minute to tune. His absence was unnoticeable as the other four found themselves into a nice Inna Gadda Da Vida jam. al. joined the impromptu jam and kept it going another minute before launching into Bearsong. Oddly enough the band also jammed on Inna Gadda Da Vida five years ago to the day at the Borgata (another GREAT show!).

The set ended with a thirty minute Jazz Wank > Skrunk > McBain. Similar to the Opium > Spaz during the first set, the segue from Skrunk to McBain developed nicely without urgency. Plane Crash was on the setlist to close the show, but I think the boys decided to dig into this segue and omit PC. Instead of rushing through McBain to get to PC they took their time letting the song develop. This gave them time to extend the ending more than usual.

Due to time constraints moe. only had time for a one song encore. Karma Police was a fine cover to end the night, I just wish they had another fifteen minutes! It was good to see the usual suspects: Elayne, Chase, Greg, Jared, Lizzie, Colin, Dave, Tommy, Mitch, Joe, Pat, Julie, Josh and everyone else.

That's all for now, until the biggest party of the year, moe.down 10: Something big. Something mega. Something copious. Something capacious. Something cajunga!

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Wednesday, April 1, 2009

moe. - 03/28/09 - Rams Head Live

If life seems jolly rotten
There's something you've forgotten
And that's to laugh and smile and dance and sing.
When you're feeling in the dumps
Don't be silly chumps
Just purse your lips and whistle - that's the thing.

It was last Labor Day moe. left the stage with the intentions of taking a break and touring less for an extended period of time. We were left by our lonesome to whistle and patiently await their return. Luckily the break wasn’t long as the two show engagements began popping up sporadically through the winter. Unfortunately for me I had to wait seven long months.

The night finally arrived Saturday in Baltimore. The Bridge, Baltimore locals, served as a perfect opener for the night. Having seen them at moe.down I knew what to expect and they didn’t disappoint, but I was starting to get the shakes. I needed my moe.fix and I needed it now.

There was a great taping turnout for this one. It was definitely the most tapers I’ve ever seen at the Rams Head. The entire balcony was covered with mics, clamps, stands and equipment bags from Baltimore, DC, Philly, New Jersey, New York and NOLA. By the time moe. took the stage the place was packed and ready to rock. moe. wasted no time getting down to business. Timmy Tucker got the party started and we were off and rolling.

Timmy was a breath of fresh air. It was like catching up with that friend who you haven’t kept in touch with, but after all the years you still have so much to talk about. The conversation shifted gears quickly into something I haven’t heard in quite some time: Don’t Fuck With Flo. I couldn’t believe it considering this song was only played a twice from 2007 thru 2008 and we were already hearing the second this year. Things were off to a great start. The two heavy hitters were played so well you’d think this band has been on the road for months.

As Flo began to get exploratory, the unmistakable bass line began to slowly develop into a full on charge back into the jam of Timmy. The jam lasted for about six minutes until they dropped right into Bearsong. TT>Flo>TT>Bearsong to open the show?!?! Are you kidding me!?!? The entire opening segment ended up being thirty-three minutes long and had everything any .ron comes to see, to which bassist Rob Derhak says, "Sit back and relax. Enjoy the flight. We’ll be piloting you around for the next hour or two. We’ve only had a couple beers. You’re in good hands…you’re in hands…you’re fucked…” Thanks for the warning shithead. The rest of the set included Blue Jeans Pizza, Y.O.Y. and George. Each had their moe.ments, but nothing would top what preceded them. I will say the moe.mentum from the first segment continued until the last note.

The second set is where things start to get nutty if they weren’t already. It began with a fairly standard Big World that turned into an all out Brent Black intro. It was a tease in the true sense of the word. Apparently the night before there were similar Brent teases in She. The lines become very blurred after this because a new song followed. The title is Ricky Martin, which is confirmed via a picture from the media sticks they were selling:

The ‘moe. in a moe.ment’ flash drives also contain a soundboard recording of the night’s performance (even though we all know audience recordings sound better). The song itself was very interesting and displays a style of composition different from the songs off the recent album Sticks and Stones.

Time Ed followed and continued the gooey, spacey improv similar to that of George in the first set. The departure of Jeff Waful, moe.’s lighting director for the past five years, was most apparent during these two songs. Waful played an integral role in the live moe. experience and will surely be missed. However, from my vantage point I was able to see both Chuck Garvey’s guitar work and Jim Loughlin’s extended solo much clearer during Time Ed. This particular night I wasn’t missing Waful at all. Instead I was mesmerized by Jim’s solo. It was pretty damn good.

A brief familiar interlude followed the completion of Time Ed. Just like so many new songs moe. introduces there is still a little confusion about the title. Previously going by Shitly, Shitty, or Cousin, tonight’s version went by the name Second Cousin. It’s a short instrumental debuted at moe.down that demonstrates similar characteristics of Zed Nought Z. This song has served as an extended intro to Runaway Overlude, so it’s no surprise what followed.

At this point of the night it’s like Al Schnier went into overdrive. What began in RO continued through The Faker and Kids. The contrasting intensity of the end of the set compared to the beginning is solely Al’s doing. He tore through screeching solos, while slipping some subtle (and some not so subtle) Big World teases in every turn. These sometimes serene numbers morphed into bona fide heavy hitters on this night. I would’ve been content if Kids ended the set, but was thrilled when the band no huddled back into where the evening began: Timmy. This wasn’t just a return to the chorus, take a bow and end the set either. We were treated to a ten minute fantastic finale to the show; pumping on all cylinders to the finish line.

The al.nouncements gave us time to realize what just happened before we were treated to Tailspin to close the night. It was a short and sweet five minute final burst of energy that left me with a shit eating grin ear to ear.

It would be real easy to discount this review by saying, “There’s another fan just really happy to see his favorite band again.” The excitement surrounding the chance to see moe. after such a long break was there, but I wasn’t overly excited. I honestly didn’t know what the band had in store for us. Given the lack of touring one could only speculate.

I’m not going to claim “Best Show Ever!” I have no doubt it ranks highly amongst the other greats I’ve seen. It felt like a complete, well thought out show from start to finish. Like all the great shows it was the actual playing that stood out the most. The compositional parts are where most of the intense jams are found instead of the segues. It was really something special you don’t see every night.

photos by brenodo

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