A Word about moe.
Metro - Chicago
October 17, 1997
First Appeared in The Music Box, December 1997, Volume 4, #13
Written by John Metzger
After catching moe. on the Furthur Festival tour this summer, I finally had the opportunity to see a full show from this talented group. It was truly an amazing performance, but I feel compelled to dispel (or at least alter) some of the myth surrounding the band that the Grateful Dead fanzines have helped to create.
Amazingly, moe. has gone from playing Otis' in February to the Double Door in March to a sold-out Metro performance on October 17. Many of the folks who came to the show were curious onlookers who had absolutely no idea what to expect. Though they thoroughly enjoyed the opening trio of songs (Rebubula, Spine of a Dog, and She Sends Me), all culled from moe.'s slickly produced No Doy, many in attendance were at a complete loss for the remainder of the show. It was literally several hours later that moe. concluded with a mind-blowing — Buster. This was the only other song that they performed from the No Doy album, causing many people to leave between the two 90-minute sets. At least this alleviated the over-crowing problem that plagued the first set.
Regardless, it was an incredible show, unlike anything you have heard before. There are certainly elements of the Grateful Dead and Phish in moe.'s playing, but there is an incredible intensity and passion in their delivery and a wonderful uniqueness in their merging of various styles.
Rebubula was a bold and epic opening statement and was the only song to come close to an actual Grateful Dead-like sound. Growing out of a space-filled tuning jam, the band tore through the lyrics and yielded to a stunning guitar solo from Al Schnier. Then, the band cohesively took a left turn, straight into an all-out tour of space, reminiscent of those wonderful 1972 Playin' in the Band jams by the Grateful Dead. Chuck Garvey pulled the band back to the song with a guitar assault of his own before Schnier joined in for a twin attack and the song's conclusion. As I jotted down the song title, the person next to me asked if she could see the set list. When I explained that they had only played one song — Rebubula — she was clearly amazed.
Yodelittle wound its way into a very cool jam containing some very Yes-like elements. The first set concluded with two new songs — Plane Crash and Waiting for the Punchline. These were two of the best songs of the night. The former found Garvey and drummer Vinnie Amico locking into a rhythmic, train-like trance while Schnier again burned his way through an astonishing flurry of notes.
Waiting for the Punchline was the song that wouldn't end. Again, Schnier tore the song to shreds with his incredible guitar playing. I was left standing in awe, wondering how this could possibly be a new song! After its conclusion, the band chose to play a reprise of the ending, building the intensity further before taking a short break. But this still wasn't the end. The band played the reprise again to open the second set. This time, it was even better than the original song!
The momentum continued through the remainder of the second set as the band wound their way through a series of tightly knit jams. Songs became virtually meaningless as the band used them merely as launching pads into their exploratory musical excursions.
It was a truly incredible performance. The band's energy level pushed each song to its outer-most limit, and the talent of each band member was clearly up to the challenge. I am eagerly awaiting their return to further explore the musical slipstream of moe.'s music.
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Copyright © 1997 The Music Box