Words by Gabriela Kerson :: Images by Robert Chapman
Snoe.Down :: 03.17 & 03.18 :: Olympic Center :: Lake Placid, NY
Chuck Garvey - Snoe.Down
The men of moe. are at the forefront of the new rocker lifestyle. They play music till 2 a.m. and get up at 7 a.m. to go skiing with their kids. A band of five men who live by the philosophy, "If you want something done right, do it yourself," they have their own band, company, festivals, cruise, and families.
Whatever the drive was to throw a mid-winter festival in the Adirondacks, they were prepared - warm clothing, lots of friends, and a very sober, slightly green St. Patrick's Day. Their production team was consistent, and their tour manager celebrated his ten-year anniversary with the band on Friday night. As an experiment in partying through the cold, Snoe.Down absolutely succeeded.
Over 3,000 people made the trip, organizing transportation, food, and lodging without the convenience of a cruise line or camping. The town itself handled the influx of people incredibly well. North East Productions, also a family business and the company in charge of the event, ran things like a dream. There were no deaths, no traffic, and minimal frostbite.
Gordon Stone - Snoe.Down
Kicking off at White Face Mountain, about seven miles from the stadium, Gordon Stone and Vermont band Chuch played the tiny Cloudspin Stage in the base lodge. Many of the festival attendees spent the morning on the slopes. At 5:30 p.m. the doors of the Olympic Center opened, and after a quick pat-down by the tight security staff, we were welcomed into the giant off-white cinderblock building. There were two areas for music. The massive 1980 ice rink had an expansive dance floor and seating for thousands, and the intimate Lussi Room was home to the vendors and the Gratefully Deadicated Sound System - a collection of more then 600 Grateful Dead concerts curated by Rory Levy.
James Hunter Band - Snoe.Down
James Hunter was the first performer in the large 1980 arena. Known as "England's best-kept R&B secret," his poppy swing style was reminiscent of a fifties sock hop, and the few people who had made it into the show clustered in front of the stage, bouncing happily. His young band featured a great baritone sax player as well as a number of technically proficient musicians.
During the 1980 stage changeover, Gordon Stone played some funky bluegrass steel guitar accompanied by Jon McCarten on bass and Vinnie Amico on djembe in the Lussi Room. Stone has an uncanny ability to find great young bass players, and McCarten, who looked to be in his late teens, was no exception. Playing upright, his notes were sure and comforting. Amico had a big smile on his face. They ended abruptly with Stone explaining that he didn't want to tire Amico out because he had another gig later.
moe. - Snoe.Down
Next, Soulive took the stage in the half-full Main Room. Their decision to return to the original trio is a good one. As fun as the horn section is, the threesome can rock a room alone. Eric Krasno unleashed a heretofore hidden talent, busting out some sultry vocals in duet with Alan Evans. His voice has a sexy swagger that matches his confident guitar licks. Evans, who grew up on the road, has a strong voice, like warm honey that carries well over his super-toned rhythms on the drums. With Krasno center stage, the Evans Brothers played off to the sides. Steady beats and seemingly random organ notes created a chaotic, enticing blending of sound. The audience found the arena and settled in.
moe. took the stage in a jovial, laid-back way. With Jim Loughlin and Vinnie Amico on drums, Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier on guitar, and Rob Derhak on bass, there was a loose and comfortable feel to the excitement. A pack of seventeen year-old boys pressed tight against the barrier by the stage sang along while throwing their hands forcefully in the air, "Make me an artist, make me a man!" moe. has that thing, the ephemeral, floating understanding of what we're feeling, what we're looking for. They can relate. As the hour grew late, I sat in the bleachers looking out over the dancing crowd. The lights and balloons gave the feel of a high school dance, and I felt a little like a wallflower as some headed off to the after-party with Ryan Montbleau at a local bar and I went home to bed.
Rob Derhak - Snoe.Down
Saturday afternoon came early, and I headed to Whiteface Mountain for the much-anticipated outdoor moe. show. A quick ride away, the outdoor staging area was already packed as almost two thousand fans waited quietly and patiently for the music to begin. A polite, mixed crowd, they were dressed warmly, and most had healthy snacks or treats. Whether young or old, they were dedicated. The band had rented drum kits and brought out their lesser guitars along with water, towels, fingerless gloves, and hand-warmers. The band began what would turn out to be an amazing show with fan-favorite, "Captain America." The smart people began dancing immediately and kept their booties shaking for the hour-long set. There were massive pipes pumping warm air onto the stage and two thousand people swaying in unison.
Meanwhile, Tea Leaf Green was setting up inside the ski lodge. A small stage and an eager crowd saw keys, drums, guitar, and bass - the four-man California-based band has a young, Phishy sound. Trevor Garrod on lead vocals and keys has a gentle vibe that is very inviting. The one they call "Franz Hanzerbeak" on bass is bouncy and upbeat, keeping the energy moving. Josh Clark on guitar and some vocals has a little bit of the bad-boy thing going for him. Hanzerbeak and Clark mix well together, and Scott Rager on drums, with a sly good humor, keeps it all on time. The room was crowded beyond capacity with die-hard fans, but the sound was awful. Only as I left did I get a sense of what they should sound like, and in those last moments it was clear this band is really, really good.
Jon Fishman - Snoe.Down
The yellow school bus shuttle back to the Olympic Center enhanced my high school reminiscing. Assembly of Dust's "hick funk" proved to be just the right note to warm up the evening. Reid Genaur's jam-rock brainchild continued the inviting, comfortable vibe. The crowd was clearly feeling at home in the ice rink as kids played glow-in-the-dark hacky-sack under a sky of brilliant lighting while Genaur's homey lyrics and sophisticated band played on. The timing was impeccable, just the right mix of rhythmic vocals and melody. Their country-funky-catchy-feel was like driving a convertible along the ocean on a warm day. Adding his subtle genius, guitarist Steve Kimock joined in on "Speculator." His autonomous style emphasized how connected AOD is. The six men played an interactive set with minimal eye contact and brilliant results.
Everyone Orchestra - Snoe.Down
The Everyone Orchestra, conducted by Matt Butler, was a long-awaited rollicking good time. Samantha Stollenwerck's blonde beauty was a bright spot of femininity among the heavy-hitters on stage. There was an interesting cross-country connection with the strong bluegrass/folk Vermont flavor of Jamie Masefield, Gordon Stone, and Jon Fishman being counter-acted by the more new-age California sounds of Kimock, Peter Apfelbaum, Mike Sugar, and Trevor Garrod. The men of moe., with the exception of Garvey, joined in as did Wilson and Genaur. The set continued the overall feel of the weekend: strong, confident, comfortable music. Butler kept the audience hyped with his quickly written signs and over-the-top enthusiasm.
Rob Derhak - Snoe.Down
With the feel of a school day's winter carnival, moe. took the stage for the last time. The audience had fallen into set patterns - the front row was filled with high school students, young boys reciting set lists, and young girls dancing in their new found freedom. Towards the back, families and older groups of friends gathered, reveling in the energy and songs. As the night drew to a close, Steve Young - moe.'s engineer - looked at his watch. He'd been up most of the weekend and was ready for some sleep. The final song crashed down around us, and the crowd began a slow demise.
For the hardcore, there was another after-party with U-Melt playing at a local bar. And on Sunday, Wiley Dobbs played on Whiteface Mountain, but for most, Sunday was a day to re-gather the work ethic and head home.
JamBase | Whiteface Mountain
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