Words by Benji Feldheim :: Images by Joseph Vala
moe. :: 11.25.06 :: Chicago Theater :: Chicago, IL
moe. closed out a two night run at The Chicago Theatre with Al Schnier returning to the fray after a bout of tendonitis, picking up like he'd never been away.
The band got to rocking right away with "Tailspin" featuring screaming guitar licks by Chuck Garvey. The band stuck close to the studio versions of songs played with swift shifts in dynamics throughout the first set. One of the better songwriting bands in the scene, it was refreshing to hear them let the stronger elements of their structured material shine.
"Captain America" maintained a steady pace after a quick hello to Chicago. "It" came next with Garvey laying down snaky slide work and warm harmonies with bassist Rob Derhak. They continued with the solemn "Lost Along the Way" which, depending on one's tastes, could be the perfect bathroom/bar break, but halfway in drummer Vinnie Amico kicked up a double-time beat and the energy slowly increased with Schnier taking it home with a fierce solo before a return to the chorus.
Jim Loughlin, who added a gypsy texture with rolling marimba work. Schnier introduced the next song as "one of the songs where the band just jumps right in like a professional rock band." They replayed the end of "Shoot First" then went into the opening harmony of "Down Boy." The slinky, strut rock tune was colored by warbling keyboard bends. "Rise" allowed the band to take their first legit steps away from the more composed sections. Schnier and Garvey traded thick riffs as Loughlin and Amico played heavy rolls. As the guitars shrieked and Derhak's bass rumbled, the drums thundered letting things cool off a bit before dropping the energy low into a drifting, electronic-bleeping ambience. Amico tightened up the rhythm into a heartbeat pattern as the rest of the band put more vigor into the surrounding sounds. Ever the endurance players, the band pushed the jam into the bluesy "Happy Hour Hero" to finish the simple first set.
Midway through "George" the tune developed a warm feel, leaving vast stretches of space between the notes. The band quieted down and stretched out before moving into "Lazarus," which had a dark vibe focused on Garvey's fierce picking. The gentle strokes of "Gone" gave way to the beginning of a long, unruly "Timmy Tucker," where Derhak's thumping bass finally grabbed the spotlight. The song was an absolute monster. After the first few verses, the energy did not wane at all for nearly twenty minutes. The band played a fast reggae jam that segued into a funked out "Big World" that closed the second set.
Schnier said moe. would be back at Lake Chillicothe for next year's Summercamp Festival. After some birthday wishes - including an email sent to Schnier by a fan's mom who claimed to be a bigger moe. fan than her son - the band encored with "BJ Pizza." The pop feel was a change of pace from the rest of the show, especially the falsetto vocals. "Stranger Than Fiction" closed the band's two night run, starting like a strutting marching band and morphing into a sneaky rock tune with heavy slide. The hard rocking capped off a fine night by a band showing enough comfort with their written work to not play forced, aimless jams.
11.25.06 :: Chicago Theatre :: Chicago, IL
1: Tailspin, Captain America, It, Lost Along the Way, Shoot First, Down Boy, Rise > Happy Hour Hero
2: Y.O.Y. > George > Lazarus, Gone, Timmy Tucker > Big World
E: Blue Jeans Pizza, Stranger Than Fiction
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