Words by: Sarah Hagerman | Images by: Dave Jackson
moe. :: 03.28.08 :: Stubb's BBQ :: Austin, TX
As the rain sporadically spat down over Stubb's BBQ and everyone huddled under the shelter over the stage, darkness fell over the Austin skyline. Sipping from a Fosters can the size of my head, my nostrils full of a smokey mix of tobacco and bbq, I had one of those horribly sentimental moments. I realized that over my years of moe. shows this was one of the rare times I was actually going to see every note of the opening set. Blame my chronic lateness on a propensity to pre-game until that, "Oh shit, what time is it? CALL THE CAB!" moment. This was also going to be my first time ever seeing moe. west of the Mississippi.
moe. is my Northeast geography. Through Boston traffic jams, Vermont foliage, brutal upstate New York winters and an overwhelming 4/20 weekend in Philly I can't say I remember with any sort of clarity, vacations and days off in college were spent driving to see this band. moe.down marked the end of summer, and planning for other festivals or outdoor shows they would appear at marked the beginning. I suppose I could have blamed the feeling on the lukewarm Fosters, but that pit in my stomach was surely homesickness.
Just as the nostalgia for days long gone was threatening to be too much, "Also Sprach Zarathustra" blasted from the loud speakers and moe. strode on stage. Chuck Garvey dramatically posed on top of the front speaker, biting his lip to keep from smiling while holding his guitar aloft. Behind him, the rest of the band barely contained their laughter. That's the boys – a dare-I-say epic sound, at times dramatic, but always injected with an off-the-wall sense of humor. They are serious musicians that don't take themselves too seriously, leading a strange circus where flashing devil horns are as acceptable as doing a hippie two-step. moe. is my musical comfort food, and whenever I think I may be growing tired of the same old dish, they manage to put some extra kick into the classic recipe.
Noticeably absent this night were big crowd pleasers such as "Okayalright," (it was a relief to not hear frat boys shouting out, "Smokin' joints in the parking lot!"), "Buster," and "St. Augustine." First set was solid ground, with song choices that flowed beautifully between smooth, polished segues. Opener "Spaz Medicine" always gets the heads knodding furiously. The high peaks of "Water" crumbled down into a driving "The Road," while a slow burning "Four" slithered nicely into the chilling "Lazarus," which featured Al Schnier shredding his guitar while perched on top of his monitor during the jam out. This was moe. as jam band professionals, feeding the crowd enough steady grooves to keep 'em ravenous for the second set.
Rob Derhak :: 03.28 :: Austin, TX
Post-set break was time to throw away those glow sticks and fasten your seatbelts. After "Cathedral" things got weird and bumpy. That is the moe. I love, taking us down into some rocky depths, showing us a glimpse of insanity and bringing us back right before we all go over the edge. The absolute highlight of the night was "Brent Black" > "Bullet." "Brent" is always a solid bet if you are looking for something long, fast and funky, but this jam was especially huge: Mac truck-sized, it left severe tire damage on everyone's dancing shoes.
Kicking off from the sharp prog breakdown that follows the lines, "Brent Black, where did you go?/ They stole your face and you missed the show," moe. took a cue from the band that inspired those lyrics. The dueling guitars melted into space and the stage gradually cleared leaving Jim Loughlin and Vinnie Amico to use their percussive weapons of choice. Tribal rhythms spun into pure metal upon the rest of the band's return, as moe.'s unapologetic embrace of all things rock-and-fuckin-roll laid waste to the sonic landscape. Stubb's gravel pounded into dust and past memories buried under the music and beer suds of the present moment, the end of this set will stay burned in my brain.
For the encore, opening act Tea Leaf Green (and a couple audience members who were "Way too drunk to be on stage," as Schnier noted) joined moe. for the Pogues-esque drinking song "Raise a Glass." Following the group sing along, the night capped with a moe. only "Not Coming Down." Rob Derhak's speedy, slapping bassline never ceases to find its way right into my gut, shaking me from the inside out. I've been on this moe. trip for awhile now, and I don't see myself coming down any time soon. After all, it's where I feel most at home.
03.28.08 :: Stubb's BBQ :: Austin, TX
Set I: Spaz Medicine, Down Boy, Water > The Road, Sticks and Stones, Four > Lazarus
Set II: Stranger Than Fiction, Runaway Overlude, She, Cathedral, Brent Black > Bullet > Water
Encore: Raise A Glass*, Not Coming Down
*with Tea Leaf Green
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