moe., Shoreline Ballroom, Hilton Head Island, SC- 4/10
At some point during moe.’s mellowish first set it hit me that it had been about eleven years since I saw them for the first time in a small bar in Columbus, Ohio. It’s amazing how time slips up on you and punches you in the gut, letting you know you aren’t quite as fresh as you use to be. Luckily, time also allows people to grow into their consciousness and expand on their viewpoint of the world. As my own journey has progressed, so has the journey of moe. The band has grown from a quirky quartet into a five-piece rock and roll powerhouse.
One of the most distinct things I remember about the first time I saw moe. was that they had a “fly by the seat of your pants” philosophy and that anything could happen during their set. In fact, the first impression I received from them was a smatter of interesting cover songs from a wide variety of artists, such as the Grateful Dead and the Violent Femmes, mixed in-between very vibrant originals that extended for long intervals, like “Plane Crash” and “Recreational Chemistry.” This mixture of “left field” cover choices and playful jams left a lasting impression on me and caused me to see the band in various points throughout their growth.
moe. has developed into a forceful rock band that has a clear idea as to what they want to accomplish in an evening. It was obvious that during their first set at Hilton Head Island’s new Shoreline Ballroom the band wanted to be extremely laidback and vibey. The band relaxed into their groove immediately following the first notes of “Crab Eyes.” The beautiful island atmosphere was represented in the band’s peaceful waves of sound. Most of their first set contained similar tempos and pacing, thus causing for a somewhat forgettable start to the performance. The highlight came in the form of a set closing combination of “Where Does the Time Go?" into "Water.” Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey provided some nice interweaving and cross-pollinating guitar work that setup what was in store for the second set of the show.
While the first set was dominated by the band’s desire to flow and not push the groove into overdrive, the second set was the exact opposite and from the opening crescendo of “ZO2” the band was on a mission to rock. Chill was replaced by fist pumping intensity. The sturdy rhythm section of bassist Rob Derhak, drummer Vinnie Amico, and percussionist Jim Loughlin navigated the band through one of the heaviest sets I had ever seen them play. The astonishingly long jam of “The Road" > "Brent Black" > "Drums/Jam" > "Bullet" > ZO2 Reprise” was by far the musical peak of the concert and proved that the band had a clear direction in mind. The jam never swayed or noodled off into nothingness, rather it remained constant and thriving. This last segment of the show lasted for about sixty minutes, and because of the preciseness and meaningfulness in the band’s playing, made for a memorable and celebratory first concert for the newly christened venue. Hopefully, more bands will take moe.’s lead and travel down to South Carolina and give the locals and transients some much needed musical pleasure.
The night was capped off with a nice rendition of the group’s new Irishy sing-along drinking ditty “Raise a Glass.” Birthdays were announced and toasted while members of the crowd and moe.’s entourage belted out the words of the song. An exuberant finale of The Band’s “The Weight” followed a solid version of “Rise.” The drunkards and revelers shouted along with moe. as the band guided the blurry-eyed crowd out into the star filled night after three hours of music that was at first a little listless and then decidingly poignant.