Vic Theatre - Chicago
July 17, 1998
First Appeared in The Music Box, September 1998, Volume 5, #9
Written by John Metzger
On July 17, moe. plowed back into Chicago, filling the Vic Theatre with an obscene amount of video equipment. The band recorded a concert video for Stranger than Fiction, and also recorded the entire show for a possible long-form video release.
There were two cameras located in the audience, but it was the two cameras flanking the stage that proved to be the most obtrusive and distracting to both the band and the audience. After opening with a stellar rendition of Plane Crash, featuring the dazzling twin-guitar interplay of Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier, the band seemed to have trouble focusing. One can hardly blame them though as the video cameras located on the stage were, more often than not, mere inches away from Garvey and Schnier.
It wasn't until It that the band seemed to find some semblance of peace with the cameras as Schnier broke loose with a stinging guitar solo. Rebubula closed the set, continuing the build in momentum as the band soared off into a monstrous jam that seeped through the edges of the song. The second set was nothing short of spectacular. Anchored by Rob Derhak's truly incredible bass playing, the band locked into a groove from the opening notes of Moth to the final chords of Buster, nearly 90 minutes later.
Schnier set a more light-hearted tone for the second half of the show as he danced across the stage away from the camera. He taunted Garvey to do the same, which made it difficult for the cameramen to keep up. This playfulness seemed to perk up and relax the band, allowing them to do what they do best — jam.
Moth floated effortlessly into Big World, and the songs sounded as if they were meant to be connected. This was just a shadow of things to come.
Bring You Down drifted outward, traveling far from the theme of the song. Derhak led the group on an epic magic carpet ride. His bass thundered and danced through the familiar themes of the Grateful Dead's China Cat Sunflower/I Know You Rider and Scarlet Begonias/Fire on the Mountain segues. The jam seemed endless, switching back and forth between these themes and building in intensity until something just had to give, and it eventually did.
The jam burst, driving full-bore into a brilliant Brent Black that only served as a temporary restraint. Onward and upward, the band carried the song allowing it to naturally flow into its own intense group jam that was again centered around Derhak's funky bass patterns.
It was clear that moe. had continued to grow and improve since their last visit to Chicago. They are truly starting to develop their songs, and they are clearly on their way to thinking as a single entity on stage. Some bands take years to get to that point, and most bands never even get close. What's amazing is what moe. has accomplished in a very short period of time.
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