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Published: 2008/12/11
by Scott Bernstein

Ha Ha The Moose, Sullivan Hall, NYC- 12/6

moe.'s soon to be completed hiatus has given the band members ample time to work on their longtime side projects. Recently, moe. guitarist Al Schnier and drummer Vinnie Amico completed an extended tour with Al and the Transamericans, while the remaining members of moe. hit the stage this past weekend for four Ha Ha The Moose shows. Bassist Dr. Guano (Rob Derhak), drummer Sludge (Jim Loughlin), and lead shredder Jeff VonKickass (Chuck Garvey) tore through hilarious Moose originals, formerly retired moe. tunes and a veritable bonanza of fun '80s covers all while getting heckled mercilessly at Sullivan Hall in New York City this past Saturday night.

The trio took to the road to promote their just released live EP, Alce En Vivo De Los Muertos, a fact they didn't let the audience forget from the moment they opened the 90-minute set with the "Theme from Magnum P.I". until they finished the encore with a reprise of the Mike Post-composed theme song. The crowd at the sold-out club show lovingly lambasted the band with chants of "you suck," "buy MY cd," and enough "Moose" calls to make you think you were at Yankee Stadium watching Mike Mussina pitch.

A slew of '80s covers kept the audience moving throughout the evening. Jeff Vonkickass did an admirable job singing the original German lyrics to Nena's "99 Luftballoons." If he forgot any of the words he'd just substitute "buy our CD" or come up with an impromptu lyric about not knowing the words. Dr. Guano sang most of the covers including an upbeat take on Men At Work's "Down Under," a hard hitting version of "Money For Nothing" by Dire Straits and a straight-forward "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds that quickly turned into a singalong.

After opening with three covers in a row (and twelve shout outs about the new album), HHtM dusted off the old moe. original "Long Island Girls Rule" from the indie-jammers 1992 debut, Fatboy. Other moe. originals played this evening were the quirky "Awesome Gary" that ended the set and a high-octane guitar-driven romp through "Don't Fuck With Flo." Unlike recent moe. shows there are no xylophones, Moogs or massive pedal boards to be found at Ha Ha The Moose performances. The tight and concise versions of these songs give an insight into how moe. might have sounded if Al never ran into Chuck and Rob back in 1991.

HHtM didn't depend solely on moe. songs and '80s covers and peppered their set with a number of tunes written specifically for the project. The instrumental "Thirsty Carbuncle" sounded like a brilliant mashup of the "Kids In The Hall Theme Song" and surf-rock legend Dick Dale's "Misirlou." Guano's falsetto vocals and Vonkickass's slick guitar work helped catchy four-minute pop tune "Mr. Her" get a big reception and had everyone in the audience swinging their hands in the air along with the band by the end of the song. To help celebrate the holiday season, HHtM treated the crowd to the brash "Christmas Time In Mooseville." Dr. Guano's delivery had the crowd in stitches with its chorus about dancing naked circle jerkily around the Christmas Tree.

Towards the end of the set, as the trio's gloriously drunken stage antics continued to please, the group delivered the entire 15-minute plus fan-favorite "Redneck Trilogy" consisting of "Rednecks Are Everywhere," "Fishing With Dynamite" and the final payoff of "In The Name of Freedom." HHtM finished the well-paced set with the ska/pop Madness classic "Our House" and the funky workout "Awesome Gary," before returning to the stage with curiously little fanfare for a triple encore that included the snappy "Dr. Graffenberg"-soundalike "10 Things Vin's Most Likely To Say." With one final plea to "buy our album" the trio left the crowd wanting more. In fact, the room didn't clear out for over a half hour, which is a clear sign that the band should continue to tour occasionally when moe. comes back.

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