moe. | 10.31.09 | Albany, NY

Words by: Bill Clifford | Images by: Heather Ainsworth

moe. :: 10.31.09 :: The Washington Avenue Armory :: Albany, NY

Al Schnier - moe. :: 10.31 :: Albany, NY
moe. always goes the extra mile for its fans. This Halloween was no different, as the band held its Democracy Rules themed Halloween party in New York's capital city. The evening's setlist was chosen by fans through an online poll and was a tightly kept secret until the performance. There were a few well-worn moe. classics as well as an older moe. original that hasn't been heard in several years, but the real tricks and treats came with the surprise covers, several of which were first time plays for the band.

moe. opened fittingly with "TGORM" (The Ghost Of Ralph's Mom). It was a high speed, high energy romp that sparked the packed crowd into a dancing frenzy, with many still making there way into the venue. The thundering bass crush of the Blue Oyster Cult classic "Godzilla" chased everyone into The Armory, a former basketball arena, and the gymnasium floor was a sea of bobbing heads and pumping fists. Guitarist Al Schnier's vocals echoed off the walls and shell shaped arena ceiling, while Rob Derhak's looming bass and percussionist Jim Loughlin's rhythmic bongos hovered in the dark dissonance.

The first surprise bust out of the night saw Loughlin, still sporting his skull mask, step to the front of the stage to rap on "Farmer Ben," which the band last performed in 2005. The rumbling funk got the crowd moving and the mid-song teases of "Frankenstein" > "Werewolves of London" > "Munsters Theme" drew huge cheers and had many singing along.

moe. :: 10.31 :: Albany, NY
Schnier continues to impress as a multi-instrumentalist. On Paul Simon's "You Can Call Me Al," he held his own on trumpet with a jazzy interlude, which drew a huge ovation. Derhak's bellowing alto and the slower tempo turned the Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus pop nugget "We Got The Party" into a moody and ominous flashback for many of the younger fans, while "George" was the first real jam vehicle of the night, with some pretty serious guitar dueling from Chuck Garvey and Schnier.

The set one closer was a trippy reading of Pink Floyd's "Echoes." Dark, atmospheric and psychedelic, this mantra was well suited to musicians of moe.'s caliber. The dual vocals of Garvey and Derhak were eerily evocative of Waters/Gilmore. Lighting director Jason Huffer made use of each and every tube available, splashing vivid violets, reds, cobalt blues, and gorgeous greens not only on the stage but also around the entire arena. Paper mache trees on the stage and a harrowing backdrop of a fog-flooded forest complemented the hallucinatory vibe, which finally ended in a caterwauling din of ecstatic feedback as the band left the stage.

The long, improvisational jams continued throughout the second set. With Phish spending the weekend out west, moe. procured a little bit of the sticky, green stuff and offered to share their "Stash" with fans. Garvey took on the lead vocals and handled them with confidence. An arena of fans sang along on the chorus and took delight in clapping to the breaks. While in this case it was not a spot-on rendition of the jam classic, Loughlin's malletKAT made a fine addition to this long time favorite.

moe. :: 10.31 :: Albany, NY
A little moe. does a body good, and they followed up "Stash" with their own jam rocket, "Meat." It was hard driving arena rock, with Schnier's searing guitar tearing through the air. It mellowed and meandered under the lead of Loughlin's malletKAT, and then gently eased into The Grateful Dead's "Eyes Of The World." Schnier's nasal twang couldn't ever be mistaken for the graceful Garcia, but it was easy to close your eyes and get lost listening to the duel guitars of Schnier and Garvey. The lovely ebb of "Eyes" moved effortlessly into a reprisal of "Echoes."

Ardent moe. fans argue that there are songs the band plays far too often, but what would a moe. performance be without "the queen of the briny deep"? For anyone who decided to walk outside for some fresh air or a smoke during "Rebubula," you might have missed what made this evening's performance truly special, as the song morphed into The Grateful Dead's "Dark Star" then reprised "Rebubula." Again, dead on (pardon the pun) arrangements and renditions weren't really the point here. We heard Garvey's interpretation of Bob Weir's guitar; he's truly a guitar virtuoso, whether performing his own material or someone else's. And to witness such a timeless song work so beautifully with their own compositions speaks volumes about moe.'s collective talent.

With Schnier on acoustic guitar and Garvey on vocals, fans were treated to a sweet, "Fuck Her Gently," a Tenacious D cover, as the first part of the encore. There was absolute catharsis in singing along with an arena of fans to this sweet ode. An extended run through their "Don't Fuck With Flo" and "Crab Eyes" brought the show to a close with several moe. classics.

The Amory, a poorly ventilated gymnasium not designed with acoustics in mind, may not have been the ideal venue, but when all is said and done, moe. gave power to the people by putting the setlist in the hands of its fans on Halloween. Several choices were to be expected, but they gave us plenty of surprises as well. moe. kept it close to home this Halloween, and all us East Coast moe.rons couldn't have been happier.

moe. :: 10.31.09 :: The Washington Avenue Armory :: Albany, NY
Set I: TGORM, Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult cover), Farmer Ben, You Can Call Me Al (Paul Simon cover), We Got the Party (Miley Cyrus cover), George, Echoes (Pink Floyd cover)
Set II: Stash (Phish cover), Meat, Eyes Of the World (Grateful Dead cover) > Echoes (Pink Floyd cover), Rebubula > Dark Star (Grateful Dead cover) > Rebubula
Encore: Fuck Her Gently (Tenacious D), Don't Fuck With Flo, Crab Eyes, Al.nouncements

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