Words by Brian Heisler :: Images by Adam George
moe. & The Disco Biscuits :: 02.03.06 :: Aragon Ballroom :: Chicago, IL
It was one of those dates you marked on your calendar the day the tour was announced. Friday of Super Bowl weekend at the classic Aragon Ballroom, only shortly after Umphrey's McGee had christened the venue for the new year. Even the guys from Umph would pen this date into their vacation. At 5 p.m., two hours before opening, the line outside the Aragon was already well established down the alley in the 43° rain and snow as Chicago prepared for a long night.
Jon Gutwillig :: 02.03.06
The quartet that made the bill stand out took to the stage with few words and much fury, as The Disco Biscuits blasted the Chicago crowd, rewarding them for the long, cold wait like a warm fire in the company of old friends. Guitarist Jon Gutwillig got comfy as well, performing in his socks. "What's the new drummer's name?" a fan asked about the community's newest friend. His name is Allen Aucoin, and in his first trip to the Windy City with the newly reformed Bisco, he absolutely validated his position, cutting, carving, and carrying the eclectic jams seamlessly. Like one continuous jam, from the opener, "The Overture," to the closer, "Story of the World," the crowd got up and got down from stage left to stage right, and the Philadelphia sea of sound whet the appetites for the New York main course.
Wasting no time, moe. got right to work with "Plane Crash" to start things off, as if to say, "Let's keep this vibe going." In a unique frenzy it waited all week to find, the Chicago audience took the vibe to a new level as every soul flowed collectively and relentlessly. A small cluster of balloons surfaced during "It Again and Again," acknowledging that the party was well under way. In another great rush and a classic moe. sing-along, the crowd again erupted, and everyone did indeed feel "Okayalright." By the fourth song, "Waiting for the Punchline," the sweat had definitely set in among the crowd for even the calmest of attendees, and the endorphins were cooking as moe. feverishly jammed out the piece and the moe.rons soaked it up.
moe. :: 02.03.06
In 1986, in the film Ferris Bueller's Day Off, Ferris (Matthew Broderick) claimed the identity of Abe Froman, the sausage king of Chicago. Twenty years later, on Umphrey's McGee's day off, guitarist Brendan Bayliss (who resides in Chicago with the rest of Umphrey's), was invited to the stage during "Moth." It was almost three years ago (May 2, 2003) that UM was part of a signature moe. band rotation, as each member of moe. was swapped for a member of Umphrey's at the Orpheum Theater in New Orleans during "Faker" and switched back to moe. during UM's "Glory." Locking face-to-face with moe. guitarist Al Schnier, Bayliss meshed a solo into the set closer, pausing the show for a much-needed breather for both the band and the crowd.
Derhak & Bayliss :: 02.03.06
Continuing with the neighborhood jam theme, Bisco's Aron Magner opened the second set on keys with moe. With fans perfectly fresh for another round of grooving, Magner helped jam "McBain" to a hysterical crowd explosion. Under a blood-red background, the Chicago audience was treated to moe.'s first version of Radiohead's "Karma Police" in 2006. While the band has played this tune many times in the past, one could not help but make the cross music scene connection as Radiohead, along with many other indie and mainstream artists, were announced this week for Bonnaroo. Fans love to debate the logistics of such situations, but it is always interesting to see artistic appreciation from one group to another, especially in diverse and unique situations. The song's ambiance definitely gave a new feeling and a different approach to the night as the band moved into a dark, mystic outro as if from a scene of a Broadway homicide production.
Aron Magner (Disco Biscuits) :: 02.03.06
moe. slid right back into their own work of art in "Bullet" with a suspenseful buildup, maybe to make the crowd wait for "the main event." Al moved to the keys, molding the song with a marimba effect. In what had become a marathon night, fans seemed to take turns dancing and resting like a relay in a poorly organized Olympic event. Of course the night would not have been complete without the bedtime story of "Timmy Tucker," as told by master storyteller Rob Derhak. The sing-along continued. In an encore that lasted until 1:35 a.m., the crowd challenged the sound crew to allow Rob to sing over the belting of the Chicago audience on "Godzilla." Each lyric was well emphasized to make sure to get every last bit of energy out of the Aragon Ballroom. And with a wave goodbye, the crowd left the Aragon. Amazingly enough, diehards were still able to trot across the street to top the night off with Alan Vasquez and Groovatron.
moe. :: 02.03.06
Chicago's own looping phenom, Alan Vasquez, had just finished his set when the majority of the Aragon filtered out to fill the Kinetic Playground. For back to back nights, Groovatron followed moe.'s performance, including guest appearances by Al and Rob at The Canopy Club in Champaign, IL. In the Windy City, members of moe. and Umphrey's McGee could be found in the intimate club, keeping the night alive until 3:30 a.m. On a bone-chilling night in Chicago, moe. and Bisco brought about as much music and action as one could hope to find in the dead of a Midwest winter.
Here's looking forward to Summer Camp!
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