The crowd seemed in jovial spirits as the band took the stage promptly at 8 p.m. Moe. rarely has an opening act and last night was no exception. Rather than making fans wait to hear what they came for, they began on time and dug right in with "Seat of my Pants," a bouncy, upbeat tune that has been a staple of moe. shows for years.
Though the band just released a new studio album, "What Happened to the LaLas," in January (their first in four years and first in almost 10 not on their own indie label), their two-set show only featured a couple of tunes from the record -- heavy jam "Puebla" and happy-go-lucky "Rainshine." Instead, moe. pleased die-hard fans with a smattering of favorites from some of their older albums, particularly 2001's "Dither," from which they played four tunes: "Rise," "Faker," "The Ghost of Ralph's Mom," and twangy "Tambourine." Other favorites included sing-along anthem "She Sends Me," and show-ender "Plane Crash" from the 1998 album "Tin Cans and Car Tires."
The key to the band's success and longevity is consistency. Moe. could be considered the Energizer bunny of the jam-band scene, after more than 20 years of constant touring and strong studio and live releases. In all of the many times I've seen moe. live, I don't ever recall a show that felt like the band was phoning it in. They always seem to be on their game, working together in perfect sync. Going to a moe. show feels something akin to slipping on a favorite pair of well-worn shoes -- comfortable and familiar.
Anchoring the sometimes heavy, sometimes soft and groovy sound of moe. are its three longest-term members -- bassist/vocalist Rob Derhak, guitarist/keyboardist/vocalist Al Schnier and standout guitarist/vocalist Chuck Garvey, who provided more than one face-melting solo during the evening. Rounding out the rhythm section are drummer Vinnie Amico and long-time percussionist Jim Loughlin, who banged on the conga drums and provided several xylophone interludes (it's hard to imagine someone rocking out on the xylophone, but Loughlin managed to do it).
Adding to the ambiance was moe.'s psychedelic light show, featuring a rainbow of spotlights and strobes all aimed at the audience rather than the band, enveloping the crowd in a sea of colors and flashes that seemed to only fuel the dance craze happening on the floor.
My only complaint, if I had one, about this show (and live moe. in general) would be that sometimes, for me, the jams go on a bit too long. Though it is certainly the band's specialty, and while I always appreciate a good jam, I also appreciate melody, and songs that drag on for 20 minutes or more can start to feel tedious.
Overall, though, moe. put on a fine show with an emphasis on fun. Everyone seemed to be having a good time, the band included, and the sound was great -- certainly not a bad way to spend a Thursday night in the Lou.
Moe. will spend most of March touring Europe, but returns to the U.S. festival circuit just in time for summer, kicking things off with their own annual Summer Camp festival in Chillicothe, Ill. over Memorial Day weekend.
Full setlist (via moe. Facebook)
Seat of My Pants
All Roads Lead to Home
Tubing the River Styx
She Sends Me
The Ghost Of Ralph's Mom
Y.O.Y. San Berdino