moe.,The Babcock Theater, Billings, MT – 7/15
Photos by Carla Kilgore
The Babcock Theater set in the quaint downtown of Billings, Montana felt flush with possibility when moe. came to town on July 15th.
The band came out exactly on time and still in their 20th anniversary Reservoir Dog black suits. moe. then opened the show with a clean and precise “All Roads Lead To Home” with Chuck Garvey singing lead vocals, and the entire band harmonizing the chorus. It was a small but satisfying way to ease us into the evening. Taking but a few moments between songs they busted out a super funky “Down Boy” which gave both Garvey and fellow guitarist Al Schnier plenty of space to jam. The song with its erratic changes and melodic chorus really got the show moving forward, although “Gone,” which followed, seemed a bit flat, halting the momentum. One of the highlights of the first set came next with “Buster.” Getting the quintet to play in unison happens rarely as they trade back and forth so much, yet during this “Buster” they all came together and then keeping with the energy of the 500 or so dancing fans, they segued back into a more spacey ending to “Gone.” The segues continued as they eased into “Captain America” where drummer Vinnie Amico showed his impressive skills behind the kit (Jim Loughlin was rarely heard during this first set which was a let down as his percussive skills, especially the vibes, are usually one of the finest components of a good moe. show). The set came to a close as Chuck noodled out the soft and slow spacey tease that turned into a very old and story-filled “Mexico.” It was a huge way to end the first set, with Rob Derhak laying down funky bass lines while the crowd sang along with the chorus. Even though the jam section was rushed a little, it was a very high note to go out on.
moe. took a pretty quick break and then opened the second set with “Yodelittle.” Loughlin was gently playing the vibes and building it up all the while trading off with the noodling Schnier as Garvey dragged out the opening for what seemed like minutes before it dropped into its familiar and funky loop. The light show filled the theater with blazing colors of blues and reds, flashing yellows, silhouetting the band as they took “Yodelittle” on a twenty minute jammed out excursion. At this point in the show it all became one long jam as moe. segued into “Dr. Graffenberg” and then into “Can’t Seem to Find.” Then they teased “Yodelittle” and went back into “Graffenberg” at which point all of a sudden the room went completely dark for a second and then following a flash reminscent of a lightning strike, the band moved into “Can’t Seem To Find.” This was followed by a flowing passage that led from “Tubing the River Styx” into “The Pit” into “Ricky Marten” into “Skrunk.” There wasn’t much crowd interaction but if you came to hear an entire set of intense jamming, with lights swirling and fans jumping around then this was the show for you.
Twenty years into their career moe. is at the top of their game. They are putting together clean set-lists, with inspired improv and having a lot fun doing it. After a show like this it’s easy to figure out why they one the best jambands on the scene. With the show ending at the early curfew of 11:30 PM fans streamed out into the warm Billings night with a certain kind of satisfaction only moe. could bring to Big Sky Country.