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Published: 2002/03/11
by Travis Thatcher

moe., The Tabernacle, Atlanta Feb.22 & 23

My travel companions and I, six of us in all, loaded into our two
obliging vehicles early Friday morning on the twenty-second. Although the time of
departure was a little too early for some of us, the group was more than prepared for the eight hour drive that stood between us in Ohio, and the first two nights of moe.
2002 at The Tabernacle in Atlanta, GA. Each of us had pretty lofty expectations going into the trip. These expectations had been elevated from experiencing the way moe.
had finished 2001. So with the New Jersey NYE gigs fresh in my mind,
I couldn't help but raise the bar a bit for Atlanta. Jersey was a blast,
but I had a feeling that Atlanta would be a blowout.

After an eight-hour drive that got condensed a bit thanks to the fast flow of traffic and a radar detector, we finally arrived at the Tabernacle. This was my first time seeing a show at this venue. I had heard really good things about the place, so after I got through the doors I immediately decided to check the venue out. After I had a chance to walk through all four levels, I was convinced that moe. could not have picked a better place to open the tour. The place is like a leviathan playground for adults.

moe. took the stage at 9:30 PM. They opened the set with Akimbo, which
is always a strong set opener. In the middle of this first number, I caught
a glance between Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey. Al had just finished a tour
promoting his solo album,, and Chuck had just finished his All Thumbs
Tour. In this one glance I sensed the two were ecstatic about being
back on stage with moe. Next they played Nebraska and Can't Seem to Find. Both were pretty standard versions, maybe even a little flat at points.
This is to be expected for a band's first show in almost two months. After
a long tune-up they went into Bring It Back Home. At this point the guys
seemed to have worked out all the kinks. In this song moe. laid the groundwork for the rest of the show. Rob's pounding bass lines combined with
Jim's percussion, and Vinnie's drums were enough to bring the whole house
to their feet. For the first time in 2002, moe. hit a serious groove. They
added a little flavor to the jam with a nice Head tease toward the end.
From here they played a solid Captain America into Recreational Chemistry to
finish the set. I can never get over the way Al and Chuck trade leads in
Recreational Chemistry. So while they started out a little flat, moe. held on to hit some nice
grooves. All in all, the first moe. set of 2002 was a solid one.

Set two began with a Spine of a Dog>Buster. Spine of a Dog is a huge crowd favorite and this Spine certainly did not disappoint. The jam that finished Spine and segued into Buster was especially enjoyable. I had a problem with crowd noise in the first set, which seems to be becoming more and more of a problem for a lot of people. But by the time moe. got to Buster, all I could hear was screams and yelps of excitement. After a brief pause, they began a Waiting for the Punchline. This was the furthest I have heard moe. take Punchline out of its traditional structure. They hit some nice points in this song and really made it a big number in a set full of big numbers. And to really top off Punchline, the guys threw in a great Strangers in the Night tease. moe. finished the set off with Hi &Lo>Meat>Head. These three songs become one hefty conglomerate of jams, held together by every member showcasing their skills on their respective instruments. All three of these songs are big numbers for moe. When they tie them together creatively as they did here it really elevates the show. With a fine Blister in the Sun encore, the band started off the year in pretty good fashion. The guys picked 2002 up precisely where they had left 2001 off.

When I left the Tabernacle on Friday night, I had a thought that
if moe. could play another show like that the next night, I would be pretty
satisfied with the opening weekend of 2002. Little did I know that not only
would they back Friday night's show up with a stellar performance, moe.
would turn the energy up yet another notch on Saturday.

From the very beginning of the first set, with Okay Alright, moe.sent out a spark that would ignite the fuse of this Tabernacle crowd. There was really a noticeable difference from the night before, the band sounded much tighter. The audience responded as well, with one thing I noticed was how little crowd noise there was on this night, especially considering how much crowd noise there was the night before in the first set. After fine version of Okay Alright, She Sends Me and Spaz Medicine really stood out. Following a nicely-played Understand, Letter Home came next and the energy seemed to ebb briefly during this tune. However, when moe finished the set with Timmy Tucker>Kids they had most everyone's undivided attention. Timmy Tucker is one of moe.'s very biggest numbers and when they hooked it up with Kids, it made for a truly beautiful marriage of music. Kids is a song that is only one year old, and it is fascinating to me how much moe. has done with it in this last year.

moe. came back out to a crowd that was full of anticipation. They then opened the
second set with Mexico, a personal favorite and clearly a crowd pleaser as well.
They topped Mexico off with a jam into a huge Happy Hour Hero, one of the best versions I have heard live. The crowd responded enthusiastically
when Chuck Garvey stepped up on the voice box. From here the band
segued into Seat of My Pants. This has always been a captivating song for me, as moe. builds us up to a point of fevered excitement
before a changeover that provides for the perfect release. Next they went into a
perfectly timed Sensory Deprivation Bank which carried into Four, with
a nice Inca Roads tease (Frank Zappa). They jammed Four into
Rebubula a perfect close to this exemplary set as the band quite literally erupted
along with everyone in the sold-out Tabernacle. As the band finished to a
mosaic of smiles, the group noted the crowd's fervid response, with
Al telling everyone that we were like a New York City crowd. They came back
out after a brief pause back stage, and encored Fire, which I think speaks
volumes about what kind of show this was.

This is an exciting time for moe., and I am just grateful to be able to experience it. This show
illustrated to me why I traveled 600 miles to see the band and gave me so many
reasons to come back. The atmosphere was overflowing with heroic deeds.

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