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Published: 2003/11/11
by Chris Wardell

moe., Michigan Theatre, Ann Arbor, MI- 11/4

Depending on whom you talked to, moe's Heavy moe.tal Halloween was a show you either got, or you didn't depending on your knowledge of Heavy Metal. A few nights later, however, we had another thing coming. The Michigan Theater is normally known for its stuffiness, and this night was no different as security guards managed to thwart any Moe.ron who even thought about stepping their dancing shoes into an aisle. Besides the stuffiness, the "Theater" was about half-full (or half-empty depending on how you look at the glass). This being said, Moe. took the stage to a rousing applause and settled into a steady, but slow burning "Happy Hour Zero." After a couple nights off, the band looked relaxed, and ready to entertain a small crowd who was more than ready to be treated to a great show.

"Happy Hour Zero" proved to be just a stepping stone into the deep, heavy rock and roll techno funk the band had up their sleeves. I hate to say this, and I know I may be ostracized for Jamband blasphemy, but in my opinion, at times the band is starting to sound like the ambient-techno-funk-rock Phish was dabbling their feet in during the late 90’s. Al even tinkers on a keyboard on occasion as Trey did during a short period of time. Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m a fan of this, and nothing makes me happier to see groups incorporate many different forms of music into their sound.

"Understand," followed by a long and brooding "Y.O.Y," led into the fan favorite "Moth." You could hear "Moth" coming but it was clear that this one was on the band’s mind as they jammed the riff from "Moth" in and out of songs all night. "Brent Black" was the point in the show where the group let their hair down, and really poured the rock on. Al literally tore through the song playing solo after solo, while Chuck leaned down to twiddled the knobs on his pedals creating tape delayed chaos permeating from his guitar. Rob just sat back and laid down the groove, and let Al tear his strings and practically rip his guitar apart as "Big World" came to a crashing end. I was confident that Al was going to smash his guitar onto the stage, but instead, he handed it to the guitar tech who just shook his head in dismay as he knew he had an exhausting and frantic set break ahead of him.

A bit later with the flicker of the overhead lights, fans put out their cigarettes and chatter and headed back inside the theater as moe. sauntered back onstage to begin the second set. With a couple quick smiles, the band eased into an early, hardly recognizable cover of Radiohead’s "Karma Police." I don’t know about this one. It’s not that I don’t believe the band is talented enough to cover this song, it’s just that I suppose I don’t like anyone but Radiohead to attempt it. However, fans were happy, and smiles were all around, so I just sat it out in anticipation for what was yet to come. "Karma," soon faded into a good, drawn out jam that introduced a rollicking, always solid "Timmy Tucker." Rob belted out the words, and fans interacted and belted the words right back. This was musical ping-pong at it’s best.

Choosing to look back into the first set, moe, pulled a double switch, pushing "Brent Black" back into the spotlight featuring a tease of Iron Maiden’s song "The Trooper" (the band covered this song Halloween night), which eventually gave away to "Moth" yet again. Some were baffled, some were floored, but many were confused and just sang along anyway. "Not Coming Down" segued into "Wormwood," as it does on the band’s new album although people were just starting to come down from the "Black>Trooper>Moth," mindbender, and needed to be picked up again. "St. Augustine" proved to be the remedy, and hauled even the most tired and weak back onto their feet. Although "St. Augustine" wasn’t as jammed out as normal, it proved to be a short and sweet good-bye to the small, but adoring crowd of Ann Arbor. After only a brief minute offstage, the band came back for a mellow "Opium." It was good to hear this song, and was a fitting way to send the fans back on their way home.

Fans were already lined up at the Coca-Cola Instant Live booth, ready to pick up a copy of the show as we were leaving the theater. If the line up the spiraling stairs and back down again wasn’t any indication of what a quality show moe had just put on, than apparently you never took your ear plugs out after Halloween. Either that, or moe blew your ears off Halloween night.

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