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

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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