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Published: 2006/06/29
by Dan Alford

moe., Rumsey Playfield, NYC 6/13

moe.: the best damn vibes-fueled rock n roll band I know. Every time I see them, at some point during the show that thought jumps to mind- especially if, as in Central Park on a beautiful Tuesday night in June, they encore with “McBain” > “St. Augustine” > “McBain.” Even though Jim Loughlin has been in the percussion seat for many, many years now, I’m still stunned at how much he adds to the music. (OK, maybe moe. is the only vibes-fueled rock n roll band I know.)

The night began in the late afternoon, a six thirty start time, with “She Sends Me” > “New York City,” shorter, tight versions with a matching transition. “Lost Along the Way” shifted the set into more open zones, guitarist Al Schnier dipping low at the outset of the jam and letting it soar. “Spine of a Dog” took that approach to the next level with a healthy blaze that settled into a winding lush jungle path. The tone grew darker and darker, closer and closer, until it finally bottomed out and spread, red and yellow light suddenly shooting up to “The Pit.” Chuck Garvey was reaching over the fret board, scraping and bending the strings for a pyrotechnic display. The transition into “Moth” was a favorite moment, an interesting improv with cool twists and curlicues. The song itself was loaded with full, round bass, including a “Fame” tease followed by a long discordant jam- a nice way to close the set.

Part II opened with a crowding pleasing “Meat” and the light show finally visible. The jam slipped into a long, viney vamp from Chuck that hit on a series of chords before heading into jazzier territory. Chuck was skatting while bassist Rob Derhak and drummer Vinnie Amico moved into position and pulled the music to a totally copasetic “Don’t Fuck with Flo.” The midsong groove kicked and jumped, cool congas lacing around runs of guitar notes. The music looked back at “Meat” but opened instead, Al on the keys and Chuck all hunched his pedals and dials. Rob began slapping, a great core of bass for an increasingly wild jam.

An exceedingly pretty “Letter Home” with Jim on a second bass and Al playing acoustic followed, its rangy improv lingering in bright blue and purple lights. Picking up pace and taking a turn toward a darker vision, the band moved into a well received “Paranoid Android,” a nod to the Radiohead’s two nights at MSG. It seemed bigger at the moment than it probably actually was. After the cover, a burst of bass and fits of lashing guitar kept “Timmy Tucker” at bay, but only briefly. The lucid, rolling jam was decorated with layers of light and mist and everyone was staring at the trees when a left turn tossed the movement into rapids and on up into an “Enter Sandman” tease. When the sounds finally pooled, we were in a deep second set place, all shadows and strangely acute awareness. Rob started slapping at the bass again, pulling all the elements up with him, despite the fact that Al was back at the keys and Chuck was back bundled down with his pedals and dials. A raging close to “Meat” led the way for “Wind It Up,” almost an anthem, but again seeming bigger than it probably was. In hindsight, the song was lurking behind the scenes for the whole show, even from the early passages of the first set. Regardless, the night was a very strong offering in the heart of the city, with the “Meat” > “Flo” really demanding some extra attention.

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