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Wednesday, November 14, 2012

moe. @ Wellmont (or the day I realized I am done with jam bands)

Back in college (early 90s) there was an explosion of jam bands.  It all stared with the Grateful Dead, and when Jerry Garcia passed other bands were wanted/needed to fill the void.  Sure the Allman Brothers Band has played pretty consistently since the late 60s/70s.  But for the most part a new wave of jam bands sprung from the ashes.   Widespread Panic and jam icons Phish are among the stand outs. Buffalo, NY band moe. started around this time and, as evidenced by their perfomance Saturday night at Wellmont, have more than stood the test of time.  The Mrs. was a big fan during college (she knows percussionist Jim Loughlin- who for a while jumped from moe. to other act Yolk.)  Truth be told I knew nothing about them before Saturday's show.  The lesson here?  Do not be afraid to jump out of your comfort zone.  If a night out is the worst thing to happen than you are still playing with house money.  Drinks and dinner at Pig and Prince beforehand and treats at the Ritz diner helped to enhance the evening.

Moe. are made up of Rob Derhak (bass/vocals), Al Schnier (guitar/vocals/keyboard), Chuck Garvey (guitar/vocals), Vinnie Amico (drums), and Loughlin.  The formula is all there.   Songs transition into one another.  Within each song is a long interlude that eventually streamlines into the same, easy going melody that began it.

It is clear these guys have been playing a while.  Out promoting their 10th(!) studio album moe. has a large catalog to sample from.  Derhak's voice is pleasant and sets a comfortable tone.  The guitars mesh well together and compliment one another quite well.

But all of it left a too familiar feeling.  That is not to say moe. is at fault.  Judging by the the sizable, diverse and enthusiastic crowd (they are called moe.rons) it is obvious moe. is much loved.  Moreover, jam bands are still very much in demand.  They are very much like an old, comfortable blanket.  At the end of a long day, or week, you know exactly what to expect when you throw the old thing over your shoulders for warmth and comfort.  It may be tattered and worn; but you dare not discard it.

Similarly moe. gave its largely white college boy crowd much to love.  They sang along.  They danced their white boy dances.  They drank and smoked enough to give me a contact buzz.  Innovative and groundbreaking?  Hardly.

Just what the doctor ordered?  You bet.  Except these days it ain't my doctor is calling for.  And it surely ain't the right prescription.

But that is ok.  It's good to know that old reliable is still alive and kicking if someday I need a fix again. And since Phil Lesh played three nights at Wellmont right before moe., and Phish could sell out MSG tomorrow if they announced a new gig, it is fair to say jam bands are here to stay.

Me?  I look forward to something a little different for my next show.  It will sound a little something like this:  Matt and Kim "Let's Go"
Not sure why this was stationed by the sound board.  But I liked it.

This is what a jam band looks like.

Wellmont has done quite well with the light lately.

Set list:
 Set 1: RebubulaHi and Lo > BulletTambourinePaper DragonNot Coming Down > GeorgeSet 2: Four > Mexico > St. AugustineDownward Facing DogOpium > MeatEncore: New York City

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