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Published: 2012/08/13
by Rob Slater

moe.down Returns to Turin

The annual moe.down kids’ parade. Photo via moe.‘s Facebook page

Something about Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY just feels like home for the members of moe. and the dedicated faithful that follow them up to the remote upstate New York location. After a brief stint at Gelston Castle Estate in Mohawk, New York, the thirteenth edition of moe.down returned back to its roots in Turin for three days of music. Joining the Buffalo natives were longtime friends Umphrey’s McGee, Grace Potter and the Nocturnals, Galactic, Marco Benevento, Kyle Hollingsworth Band and many more national and local bands from the Buffalo area.

As people settled into their tents on Thursday night and Friday morning, they were greeted with a vicious rainstorm that surely made the setup process that much more stressful. As wind and rain devastated the Turin area, the skies cleared just as Grace Potter and the Nocturnals took the main stage to start the weekend. In support of their latest album, The Lion The Beast The Beat, the band worked through a 90-minute set full of new cuts, old favorites, and a stunning cover of Neil Young’s “Cortez the Killer” to close out. With Potter belting out vocals that cut straight through the rain soaked mountain, the crowd was put in the perfect mood for the coming festivities later that night.

One of the best parts about this year’s edition of moe.down was the fact that no set overlapped with another. Essentially, the trek from the main stage down the hill to the side stage became very familiar by Sunday, but on Friday it was all still very new. Kyle Hollingsworth Band took to the side stage before moe. graced the faithful with their first set of the weekend. The String Cheese Incident keyboardist delivered an hour worth of heavy jams from his solo repertoire in what would be the first of his two sets on this night. With that, the fans made the trek back up the hill and awaited their gracious hosts who have been reinvigorated recently thanks to the return of their drummer Vinnie Amico after a difficult bout wit Mono. The band took the stage to a roar from the wet Turin crowd and quickly launched into the powerhouse “Plane Crash” followed by the familiar “Not Coming Down” > “Wormwood” > “OK Alright” to kick off the weekend.

One of the highlights of the weekend came almost immediately, as Grace Potter jumped on stage with moe. for a rendition of The Rolling Stones classic “Gimme Shelter” as rain poured on the crowd. No one seemed to care though, as Potter’s best Mick Jagger impression was far more important and entertaining than anything falling from the sky. As would become a theme over the weekend, the set ended with extended jams on songs like “The Pit” and “Timmy Tucker” before hitting set break on the first night of the festival. After the final Kyle Hollingsworth Band set, moe. was back up on stage and would deliver the second thrilling guest spot of the weekend. After the first “Tailspin” in over 18 months, Hollingsworth joined the band for “Happy Hour Hero” and delivered his keyboard wizardry to the stage nicely. The jams didn’t stop there as once again moe. closed a six-song second set with a heavy run of “McBain” > “Skrunk” > “Brent Black” much to the delight of the crowd. A fun encore of “Seat of My Pants” > “Akimbo” closed the first night of the festival, sending everyone back to their campsites wet and happy. While some continued the party with Everyone Orchestra, who played the first late night at moe.down in the festival’s thirteen year history, others chose to conserve energy and pack it in after a long day of fighting the weather and dancing to the great music offered to us.

Saturday, the penultimate day of moe.down, featured many local bands from the Buffalo and Syracuse areas. Aqueous, a prog-rock Buffalo, NY outfit, took the Second Stage by storm as they delivered their particular brand of jamming to the moe.down crowd, which included a hysterical take on Coolio’s “Gangsta’s Paradise.” As people woke up to the catchy melodies and destructive musicianship of Aqueous, it was evident that Saturday was going to be different, and in a great way.

The main stage got off to a mellow start, as SOJA and The Wood Brothers kicked off the festivities there. People looking to ease their way into Saturday afternoon had a perfect outlet to do so, and those who wanted to keep the party going from Friday night had that option with Aqueous on the Second Stage. There was something for everyone at all times on this day.As moe. took the stage around 8 PM, the mix of old and new throughout the day had the crowd feeling eager for a heavy dose of the familiar from their favorite band, and they would deliver.

Opening with the heavy-hitter “Crab Eyes,” the hosts were off and running through a nearly two hour set that included the popular “Captain America” as well as a huge closing segment with “Faker” > “Moth” featuring some of the best Vinnie Amico work of the weekend. The second set of the evening would include the first of two full band rotations, as all of Galactic jumped on stage to pay tribute to past moe.down performer Levon Helm with “Up On Cripple Creek” and then traded out with moe. for a take on the Led Zeppelin classic “How Many More Times” with Corey Glover on vocals once again. The hosts returned afterwards to close the set with the fan-favorite “George” and the monster live-staple, “Recreational Chemistry,” which closed the show. The encore-less second night showed just how deep moe. dug, with multiple tunes extending past the 20-minute mark.

While Everyone Orchestra wasn’t the late night extravaganza people had hoped for on Friday night, Bright Light Social Hour made up for that and then some. The Austin, Texas rockers blew through the 2 AM curfew and delivered a two-hour performance of incredible music. Billed as one of the highlights of the weekend, Bright Light Social Hour won over the crowd instantly with their infectious rhythms and crafty songwriting. A monster sit-in from moe. guitarist Chuck Garvey all but sealed the deal with the moe.rons in attendance, and brought Saturday night to a raging close.

Waking up on Sunday, while difficult for most, brought about a sense of accomplishment and fulfillment, as the festival hit an enormous crescendo on Saturday night with the creative moe. sets and stellar late night performance. Everyone seemed to be wondering how Sunday could possibly top the climactic penultimate day. Well, it wouldn’t top it, but it would come close. With yet another fantastic local band, Timbre Coup, performing two sets on the side stage, the progressive rock band warmed up the crowd in the same vein as Aqueous on Saturday, with relentless jams and tight musicianship throughout.

After Timbre Coup was finished rocking the crowd into the afternoon, moe. took the stage early for their annual day set and filled it with the mainstay day set tunes such as “Spine of a Dog” > “Buster” as well as the relatively new “Downward Facing Dog” which featured some of the best improv of the day. Next up on the main stage was long time friends and collaborators, Umphrey’s McGee. Having just finished up their sUMmer school run, the South Bend natives warmed up to the crowd with a rare opener in “Eat” and two newer songs in “Puppet String” and “Booth Love” before a raucous version of “JaJunk.”

Guitarist Stanley Jordan joined the band at the end of their set for “40’s Theme” > “Hajimemashite” > “40’s Theme” which provided one of the best moments of the weekend. Jordan would also make an appearance during the subsequent Marco Benevento set as well, lending his hand to one of Benevento’s new tunes off his upcoming release Tiger Face.

With their long history of on-stage collaborations, Umphrey’s and moe. had one final trick up their sleeve for the closing set of the festival, as the entire band joined moe. on stage for a rendition of Pink Floyd’s “Time” featuring Chuck Garvey and Jake Cinninger on vocals. Slowly but surely, members of moe. left the stage one by one, allowing Umphrey’s to jam for a few minutes and continue the Pink Floyd theme with their own dub version of “Breathe.” The end of this segment came with the announcement that Gold Bond had been named Mayor of moe.down, and led back into the moe. portion of the show with “Rebubula.” moe. also hosted their annual kids’ parade on Sunday with many children at the festival joining the band onstage.

Although the Official moe. Twitter account announced that moe.down would be receiving a third set, the closing stanza of the festival acted more like an encore, although it was nearly an hour over curfew at that point. Cut from the set the previous night, “Billy Goat” segued perfectly into the heaviest of heavy hitters, “Meat” before the band exited to one final roar of applause.

As the Turin crowd wandered aimlessly into the chilly Sunday night, one couldn’t help but wonder why moe.down left it’s birthplace in the first place, and judging from the events of this weekend, we may never have to wonder that again.

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