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Published: 2014/02/03
by Kristin Friend

moe. and The Ringers, The Fillmore, Charlotte, NC- 1/30

Photo by Brad Kuntz

New York based jam rockers moe. returned to The Fillmore in Charlotte on January 30, bringing along their friends The Ringers to open the show and add to the fun. The Ringers are nothing short of a “supergroup” consisting of guitar prodigies Jimmy Herring (Widespread Panic), Wayne Krantz (Steely Dan), and session musician Michael Landau, as well as world renowned bass player Etenne Mbappe and drummer Keith Carlock rounding out the rhythm. They were unable to make it to the tour opener the previous evening, and it was obvious when they hit the stage that they were rearing and ready. The premise of taking musicians that are masterful in their genres could be a tricky one in more boastful hands, but these five egos on stage melded seamlessly into one, and it was a joy to watch. The music mixed beautifully, twisting from silky jazzy instrumental flow to African jam to funky breakdowns and bass solos. The perfect start to a night filled with old school heat, a sick sit-in, and a room full of moe.rons losing their heads.

moe. then hit the stage and opened with “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” from their 2001 studio release Dither. It spoke of things to come, as they kept it classic for most of the night. “Hi and Lo” followed and took it back even further, back to 1998’s Tin Cans and Car Tires to a delightedly loud crowd in the mood to sing along. The dark and dirty tale of a trip to see the devil himself, “The Pit,” was up next, and the jam that usually pops up in the middle of the song was extended, leaving people mesmerized and lost, until the choral pivot point blasted back from the haze in full force. Left unfinished, this flowed into “Understand,” the second offering from Dither, and moved quickly into one of only a few new-ish songs to be played, “Brittle End” from 2007’s The Conch.

“Rise” started off the second half of the first set, as the songs began to stretch and bend in true moe. fashion. The jams were tight despite their exploration, and recognizable enough to be comfortingly familiar, but not enough to be boring. They swung back into “The Pit” to finish it off, before welcoming Herring to the stage to show off his skills one more time. He sat it on “Four” the closing song on their 1996 studio release No Doy, keeping in line with the throwback feel of the set. The song can seem quiet and unassuming, as the lyrics are sparse and the subtle swing can lull its way into space. With Herring on stage, however, the sound expanded and his take on the riffs and solos truly made something spectacular happen to round out the first set.

The second round came out blazing with the reggae-tinged “Dr. Graffenberg,” another classic rocker from their first ever studio release Fat Boy. The tune had folks both bouncing to the poppy melody, and head banging to the thrashing metal chorus. Moe. songs love to ride through genres over the course of the content, and “Dr. G” is one of the prime examples of this practice. Up next was their take on the traditional Jewish folk song “Hava Nagila.” It was a random treat for the Charlotte audience, as moe.‘s version is certainly more rockin’ than most traditional offerings. “Long Island Girls Rule” flowed out of the brief jam, and it is worth noting that these three songs appear on Fatboy, but in the opposite order. A fact that was not lost on the old school moe.rons in the audience. “McBain,” the second offering from The Conch, spread its wings and took over the second half of the set, clocking in at almost 20 minutes. An “Overlude” gave way to “Recreational Chemistry,” a fan favorite and always a treat. The encore saw percussionist Jim Loughlin take a moment in the vocal spotlight, as he assumed Geddy Lee duties for a spot-on take of Rush’s odyssey “Tom Sawyer.” “All Roads Lead to Home” tied up the package, and capped off the great night of vintage moe. with some quality Ringers on the side.

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