Words and Images by Jake Krolick

moe. :: 01.20.06 :: Electric Factory :: Philadelphia, PA

"It's physical when you dive; you begin to feel that you are an angel liberated from your weight. From birth, man carries the weight of gravity on his shoulders. He's bolted to earth, but man has only to sink beneath the surface and he is free." (Jacques Cousteau)

Schnier, Derhak, Garvey :: 01.20
Friday evening's moe. show was just the ocean adventure needed to free us from the weight of the week. moe. is the Jacques Cousteau of the jam world. Their music is an inventive, fun, and calculated mix that lets imaginations run wild. They are a selfless band who skirt on the edge of gaining due respect. moe. holds their loyal following close as they trek around the world. Their adventures have spawned legendary tales: February nights in Des Moines, old May chemistry in Syracuse, evenings with Willy Wonka, and Sugarloaf's cold frozen wilds. Yes, moe. has adventures, and the legions of loyal landlubber moe.rons float along staring out portholes at an amazing band. As they journey, they liberate music fans, showing them that their strange rocking beauty, which lies beneath, is only a ticket stub away.

moe. :: 01.20
Fans took their last breaths of open air before they entered into the timeless juggernaut known Friday as the SS Electric Factory. The torrid mayhem of police, rabid fans, and a nitrous hiss swelled outside. Feelings of freedom hit like waves as fans jaunting inside were submerged into a cool, dark inner space. moe.rons floated around from all directions, the main concentration undulated forward to the black coral shelf of a rail. The band sat in the back quarters waiting patiently for their turn on stage. They held a warm spot in their heart for our Pork Roll and Ben Franked city. It had been three years since moe. churned up the Delaware river with a two-night stand. Despite some disappointment, they were back at Ben's Kite and Key Factory instead of the Tower. It was just the touch of history that was needed to form another legendary tale.

Grace Potter :: 01.20
Salt spray bounced off faces as the show dove head-first into the unpredictable. Grace Potter and the Nocturnals licked at our ankles like a wave you misjudge walking along the shore. She sung out with an incredibly resonant and brave gusto for a twenty-two year old voice. Songs pulled on soulful strings in the crowd's hearts. Similar to the mythical siren's call, many couldn't help but move along to the music. Hair flew everywhere like seaweed in the surf as the crowd danced. The green mountain group sounded more like a delta blues-meets-New Orleans soul fantasy than any Eastern band should. If Grace was the bread of the Nocturnals, then her guitarist Scott Turnit was the butter. His guitar licks were wild and unruly. Their hot, heavy sound wrapped you up in a Southern Rock fantasy one moment and then backed off the next. Sprouting between Scott and Grace was a playful dynamic. The pair seemed to be the type that would prank the captain if they had the opportunity. Their set consisted of a six song toe-dip test with a strong pull from their latest release Nothing but the Water. Grace captured a spirit and energy that reminded me of Theresa Andersson. She grabbed attention with a look but held discerning ears' interest with her musical prowess. Her set finished to loud cheers for more. The audience swelled in frothy anticipation of the creatures to follow.

Rob Derhak :: 01.20

moe. :: 01.20
Fans donned their dive suits, secured drinks, and battened down the hatches before they dove deeper into the depths of Rock. They were submerged into black before the creatures surged onto stage. The big tuna Rob Derhak, friendly and eager, waved heartedly to an excited crew. Chuck Garvey flashed a fin and a white, toothy grin. His corner of the stage held a disembodied Barbie beauty torso sporting a Mexican hat. Al Schnier harpooned the opposite side of the stage. Jim Loughlin and Vinny Amico snuggled into their kits and became the dual octopi that formed the percussion section, arms blazing. The trip into inner space was arduous as the "Recreational Chemistry" > "Sensory Deprivation Bank" opener didn't quite offer the pace this Friday night deserved. Not to worry, a red siren went off as Chuck added his two cents. He dropped his nasty chompers into the guitar to end the lull.

Pat's and Gino's steaks aligned with the music gods to rain down the first half of a whopping "Meat" sandwich. Listeners dove to darker depths of sound, making their ear drums pop. The band's luminescent musical talents were visible as Vinny and Jim's tandem drums linked up, matching the depth of Chuck and Al's wailing instruments.

moe. :: 01.20
Pangs of bass and thuds of drums bounced around the walls of the E-Factory as the phosphorescent notes of "Interstellar Overdrive" floated to the ceiling. The pace slowly swirled like kelp in the sea, sending minds reeling to their own watery worlds. The Floydian tribute fractured into a mass of bubbles. The liquid sound spheres rose entangled in the notes from the dual lead guitars. The speed built to an intensely powerful "Wind It Up" to close the first set.

Captain Nemo uttered, "Adieu sun! Disappear thou radiant orb. Rest beneath this open sea, and let a night of six months spread over my new domains."

The SS Electric Factory approached 20,000 leagues under the sea. The fleeting shafts of light were gone as the crew of fans descended to the deepest depths of the rocky floor. moe.rons were ready for the full crushing force exerted by the fathoms of sound. The bubble busted into moe. bliss as Chuck rounded the softer side of "Bring You Down," revealing his full force in set two.

Chuck Garvey :: 01.20
Watching Chuck was like watching the elusive jaguar shark attacking its prey. His show of power was nicely nauseating. Sick fascination drove the submerged crew forward. He struck slow, nibbling away at his guitar. His hands became razor-sharp weapons. The guitar squirmed and writhed, trying helplessly to free itself from the predator's jaws. The front few rows were covered in the entrails of sound. Al, Vinny, and Jim joined in the massacre as the jam completely turned, and all hell broke loose. A tease of Led Zeppelin's "Achilles' Last Stand" shone through the carnage before the feeding frenzy diminished. All that was left were shreds, a melodic drip of notes led by bass, xylophone, and drum, which had a slight tinge of Marley's "Stir It Up" tucked inside.

Rob Derhak :: 01.20
Rob's bass sent sonar waves out across the floor. The pings measured Rob's bearings on stage as he pumped out a low and fast pulse. Jim kept pace on the percussion as Derhak methodically whomped the bass into submission. Rob kept his head down as he glanced now and then at the sweet picture of his little fish, Emma Derhak, placed gently on his peddle strewn board. His white shoes gleamed like Chuck's incisors. The crowd let out a roar as the band navigated back into a raging "Meat" fest for the second half of our steak sandwich. Al picked up on the carnivorous riff as Chuck went in complementary directions. The tidal wave of sound made the floor squirm. The crowd was a sponge in the sea and couldn't soak up enough of the incredible sound.

Schnier, Garvey, Derhak :: 01.20
The frenzied pace of the second set caught a brief snag during "Summer Oh I." The reworked version of the Swamp Donkey song slowed to a manatee crawl as Rob sang in lower-than-normal octaves and Al crooned away. All listeners wanted to do was ride in the gyrocopter and soar. The show had been knocked off pace, but "Plane Crash" sent warm currents flowing back through the crowd. Chuck half murmured and half sang, "Salt peanuts, Salt peanuts" a handful of times as an airy little Dizzy Gillespie tease reared its head. The teases kept coming as a Dead-seasoned jam built out of "She" with tinges of "China Cat." Rob hollowed out an air pocket, completing the "Recreational Chemistry" loop. The end was near, and the crew could have left right then, happy and pruned from being in the water for hours. The show surfaced a bit too quick from the depths of raging rock bliss into "Tambourine," giving the whole crew a bad case of the bends. This nitrogen narcosis had hardly worn off as the crowd grabbed a fresh breath and a piece of dry land.

moe. swam off into the evening to another watery adventure. Their ethereal ability to hold music at a serious level without taking themselves too seriously remained intact. As creatures that thrive in open spaces, they require room to branch their tentacles out and to continue exploring unknown depths. Our ragtag crew stripped off our blue jumpers, tucked our red wool caps into our sleeves, and went off into the night. Until next time landlubbers, "This is an adventure." (Steve Zissou)

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[Published on: 2/3/06]

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voodoochili12 starstarstar Sat 2/4/2006 08:23AM
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I love moe. and this was a good show, but the ocean link is a little too strong. I'm all for artistic interpretation of music, but this doesn't quite grab me.

moephishH2O starstarstarstarstar Sat 2/4/2006 11:47AM
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Thanks for the great review! I miss catching moe. on the east coast. Hopefully they'll make it out here to the NW soon!

Chaloupka starstarstarstar Sat 2/4/2006 01:00PM
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Very well written article. I must admit, the only reason I read it was because it talked about the Nocturnals and not because of moe. The dudes in moe are all obviously very technically and instrumentally talented, and they also play really well together as a band. Their shows are very dynamic and intense. But the problem w/ moe is their songwriting - boring melodies and dumb lyrics. No offense to all the moe lovers out there, but there are much better songwriters in this business than moe.

GregRN starstar Sat 2/4/2006 02:57PM
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dude, I was there grace was great! Moe was great especially instellar overdrive. Holy shit, man. My only problem is there was no tease of zepplin or or china cat. Sorry to burst your bubble it simply diddn't happen. I was right there on the balcony, best set in the house, man. They had my attention the whole time. No zepplin, no china cat.

feerock Sat 2/4/2006 09:28PM
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Awesome article and great pix! i was just at the Aragon show last night and moe. tore the roof off that place. good stuff.

dpercy starstarstar Sun 2/5/2006 08:36AM
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Good to see a piece of review literature with as much freedom and exploration in it as the music we all listen to.

Matthew Jaworski star Sun 2/5/2006 10:15AM
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Matthew Jaworski

Wow, way to beat a metaphor into the ground. "One audience member was like Connor Petterson and sank to the bottom."

kevmakara starstarstarstar Sun 2/5/2006 05:00PM
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Was there... agrees. Awesome show, awesome article.

Wuudman star Sun 2/5/2006 08:17PM
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The whole water thing is WAY too overdone... "Watching Chuck was like watching the elusive jaguar shark attacking its prey." That sentence truly does not mean ANYTHING. This author must have been tripping hard and got some sort of ocean theme in his head. It's not artistic, it's stupid.

whoyou starstarstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 03:34AM
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This article almost makes me want to move to Philly, not really but almost, just pissed that I missed Tamborine. And as far as songwriting goes, when you can jam like Moe. that really doesn't matter. Long as they can keep me dancing I'll be front and center at any show of theirs I can attend. Good article.

umphrees starstarstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 06:21AM
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Moe. on Friday night had to of been one of the best shows I've seen in a long time. Everything that they played was on and the crowed was going crazy. Moe. and Disco Biscuits where awasome together and they should play together agian.

eric221 star Mon 2/6/2006 08:15AM
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moe. is a great band. But the metaphor use in this article was a bit over the top. The imagery was also a little overdone.

dedhed6111 starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 09:21AM
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lyrics don't always have to be poetry. Moe. finds the extraordinary in ordinary phrasing. The sounds of the words often mean more than the words themselves. I am not bashing anyone for not understanding, but perhaps if you look at lyrical songwriting from any number of alternative approaches, you will find that moe's lyrics and lyrical delivery are exactly what THEY are reaching for

kylelavin starstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 09:58AM
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so so review, better than the last cotton headed ninny waggin to review moe.

barrett starstarstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 01:02PM
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to much about the ocean, however life aquatic rocked. little confused to the connection. moe. just rocks...

- shocker

honeypile starstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 02:45PM
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yeah that water stuff might be a bit much, but a statement like this "Pangs of bass and thuds of drums bounced around the walls of the E-Factory" ... is dead on. That tin hut has seen better days. and being at that show, i can say moe. is one of the very few bands that can make the factory sound alright. However bands this good deserve a better venue. Since the acoustic technology exists maybe its time to say goodbye to a great venue that has seen its prime...

nywine starstarstarstarstar Mon 2/6/2006 06:57PM
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This show was absolutely great. As soon as the bass line to Rec. Chem kicked in to OPEN THE SHOW we knew it was going to be a great one. It was. It was also a wild lot scene outside. Great time. The newer tunes were also really good.

bmoore starstarstar Wed 2/8/2006 02:48PM
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moe. is a talented band; there's no denying rob is a sensational bass player and chuck is a inventive guitarist...Unfortunately I really think moe. has reached the height of their popularity - they may enjoy this success for several years, but I doubt they will be making a transition to larger venues. Like one commenter mentioned, they are a talented band and sufficient instrumentalists, but the lyrics and melodies are pretty average. I do like the band but once you've seen them several times everything kind of sounds the same.

PintOfGuinness78 starstarstarstar Wed 2/8/2006 08:00PM
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Hey GregRN listen again man. They did everything but sing Achilles Last Stand it went on for 3-4 minutes. On top of that the whole BYD--->meat segue was very China cat-Rider like no denying. I was so psyched to hear them Tease Achilles would love to hear it as a break out someday. Great show, great venue see you all at snoe.down

JennSvenn star Fri 2/10/2006 11:00AM
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A little metaphoric prose in your writing is cool, but the overbearing oceanic theme of the article definitely causes it to "[descend] to the deepest depths of the rocky floor" of music reviews. Pun entirely intended, you went a little overboard. However, there's no denying it was a great show.

gromoe star Mon 2/13/2006 02:40PM
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This is the most ridiculous article I have ever read.

jmarch starstarstarstar Tue 2/14/2006 09:57AM
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moe kicks butt.cant wait to see them again and again!

Joe somebody starstarstarstarstar Thu 2/16/2006 03:33PM
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Hahaha, I threw that hat up there after catching it when Grace Potter threw it out after wearing it. That's funny that that made the article.

walkinjingle starstarstar Sun 2/4/2007 09:04PM
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GregRN, you are wrong. There is a most definite "China Cat" tease smack in the middle of "She". They develop a jam very reminiscent of the old China->Rider segues, then finally you hear the China Cat guitar riff. Sorry you didn't hear it on the balcony, but you can go to to catch up. Great show!

As for this review, it's fun to think of moe. as underwater explorers, but the metaphor is definitely beaten to death here.