moe., Crystal Bay Club, Lake Tahoe, NV – 2/1
With its latest tour hitting the West Coast, moe. brought its Upstate N.Y. based freak show to the Crystal Bay Club (CBC) casino on the North Shore of Lake Tahoe in early February. Dinosaur BBQ sweatshirts were in attendance, and a lot of excited talk was overheard about upcoming shows in the Bay Area, L.A., and even the Midwest.
The first set got off to a smooth start with a segue of “Good Trip”> “Akimbo”, which has seen some recent action as a pairing. “Akimbo” then bled into “Happy Hour Hero”, a song that easily brings show goers right into a bar scene in anytown America.
The only break in the first set followed “Happy Hour Hero” as “Rain Shine”>”Bullet”>”Kyle’s Song” rounded out what many felt was a fairly short set. Somewhat bewildered, concertgoers flooded back into the casino lights and out to their chosen set break activities. Set one had sounded clean, but not really left the crowd reeling as many moe. sets can.
From most accounts set two made up for any “getting loose” sentiments left off from a well-played set one. “Spine of a Dog” got the set started. Being one of moe.’s older, better known tunes the capacity, sometime overflowing crowd at the CBC seemed to jump right into the groove, especially when the song segued into a charged “Dr. Graffenberg”.
The jam out of “Dr. Graffenberg” contained an interesting “Havah Nagila” coming from guitarist Chuck Garvey, which ended up going into “Cathedral”. This chunk of music, in a way, signaled the to the crowd a tone of explosive jamming that would characterize the rest of the evening’s offering.
It was during the one brief pause in the set, after “Cathedral,” where the rest of the action and chaos that ensued all came in meticulous, sporadic doses from each band member. Literally, every musician played a lead role at some point. If the one in question wasn’t soloing or leading the band as a whole, they stepped back to add texture to the rest of the music and support the one who was soloing or leading the current charge.
“The Pit”>”Mar-DeMa” came after the break, brought the energy high once again-lights swirling- and was a fully tight selection. But the final pairing of “Brent Black”>”32 Things” was the arguable highlight of the night. It actually was more like “Brent Black” > a shared drum solo by percussionist Jim Loughlin first, then drummer Vinnie Amico. Vinnie really kept the beat going until the band, who had momentarily stepped off stage, came back as bassist Rob Derhak started slapping away.
Having first seen moe. back in 1996 and being strongly familiar with their old catalogue the slapping sounded as though the band was about to drop into an old fan favorite, “Timmy Tucker.” However, they decided to drop into a different fan favorite, “32 Things” much to the delight of the crowd. Rob had been using hand signals to communicate with guitarist Al Schnier for what seemed to be the move into “32 Things”, which translated in a glorious way at the CBC. Not only did the band as whole tear through “32 Things”, and the segue back into Brent Black” to end the set, but Al Schnier just about set the venue on fire with his many highpoint riffs and blistering notes. A cool double song encore of “Gone” and “Wind it Up” sent the Tahoe crowd back into the lights and noises of the casino to end the evening’s festivities.
In the end of the second set, during the climax moments of “32 Things” and “Brent Black,” it was clear to show attendees where moe. has come from, where they’re at now, and who might be down to continue on with them in the future. For some of us that have seen moe. at least 15 years ago, at times, the show can seem predictable. However, in the end it all goes back to the jam. They could do it back when they started, and they have fine-tuned their skills in 2012 to where at this point moe. jams like none other. If you are looking to get taken on an improvisational ride with a band that clearly has lyrics that allow them to structure a song that they can then take wherever they want musically, then you’re either already a moe.ron, or you need to catch a moe. show as soon as you possibly can.