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Concert Review: moe. – The Grove of Anaheim, Anaheim, CA – 1/19/08

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Tonight was going to be my moe. first show. I didn’t know much about them other than they had been around the jamband scene for a few years and got their start while attending college in my hometown of Buffalo, NY. I had listened to a few covers online, but wasn’t sure what to expect. My pal and fellow live moe. virgin Fumo Verde accompanied me.

It was a brisk January night, but apparently the hippies didn’t care as they meandered around the parking lot in their sandals. A few people were partying, drinking beers and causing the occasional whiff of marijuana to float by in the night air, even before I found Fumo. He smoked outside and left everything behind because he didn’t want to be hassled by security. As luck would have it, they were completely lax inside this non-smoking facility as heavy plumes of sweet smoke filled the air once the lights went down. He cursed the fates not realizing what a friendly, sharing bunch of folk “moe.rons” are, and soon a pipe was passed his way by a smiling stranger.

Opening up was The Seymour Duncan Band, an average-sounding blues band you would find playing at some no-cover hole in the wall where Bud and Bug Light were all that was on tap. I would later find our Mr. Duncan is more of a player in the music business as a maker of pick-ups and stompboxes. It was good to see he had a day job.

Being my first moe. concert and my unfamiliarity with any of the songs, it was difficult at times to tell when they began and ended, especially considering that I later discovered over half were ten minutes or longer in duration. I took notes about what I was hearing and tried to provide myself clues to research afterwards.

The show began with “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” the “2001” theme, and the quintet came out. They are two guitars, a bass/keyboardist, a drummer, and a percussionist. They opened with “Okayalright,” one of the shorter songs of the night. The lyrics tell the tale about getting over a lost love. It was fun number with plenty of cowbell.

“Happy Hour Hero” had a laid back beat as it shuffled along with lyrics that extolled the virtues of life on the road for musicians. The party people in the audience were able to embrace the chorus of “one more bottle.” Seymour Duncan joined in and guitarist Chuck Garvey had an interesting vocal solo through a Talk Box, the device made famous by Peter Frampton. The song continued with a slow build that was perfect for some of the swaying, bleary-eyed audience members.

The solos on slide guitar really rang out on “All Roads Lead To Home.” There were some good flourishes added on banjo and also by percussionist Jim Loughlin. They jammed a bit on this song. It seemed a bit early in the night to get spacey, but that’s why some fans come. Besides, it allows them to fully enjoy whatever they’ve taken and for it to wear off before trying to get home.

From this point, they played for another 30 minutes until the first set break. The band began with a peppy and beat number, which was a great choice to come out of a jam and clear the cobwebs of introspection. They kicked it up a gear, and then slowed back down into another jam. They slowed it down even further. The lighting effects really matched well with the mood they were creating. Al Schnier created some great sweet bass riffs, ranging from jazz to folk. Then we got a rockin’ jam with a wild squealing guitar. This section was three different songs: “Rise,” “She Sends Me,” and “Big World.”

After a 30-minute break, the band returned for a set that showed off their musical skills and range. Starting with a keyboard intro, they gave us two upbeat numbers that again featured great guitar work. There was a bit of a technical problem, before they went to a lengthy ballad that slowly rose in pace and loudness, their “Stairway to Heaven” equivalent. It was a big hit with the crowd.

The rest of the set found the band transitioning between rock, reggae, and country, as the audience grooved to the jams, willing to dance as long as moe. would play. Highlights included Loughlin on vibes creating sounds to float along to and a song where the audience joined in by clapping. They closed with a rocking number.

For the encore, a number of fans who bought their new album, Sticks and Stones, in advance got to join the band on stage to for a rousing singalong of “Raise A Glass,” certain to be a future staple of St. Patrick’s Day parties. The words played on the video screen so we all could sing along.

I don’t know how this show rates among moe.rons, but every person I saw in the crowd had a great time. As someone new to the band, it was a good night of live music; however, I wasn’t so blown away that I have to rush out and buy their albums or see them the next time they come to town.

I saw a taper in the audience, but haven’t found a bootleg of the show posted anywhere online. A sanctioned soundboard copy is available for purchase through nugs.net.

Set 1: Okayalright, Happy Hour Hero, All Roads Lead to Home, Rise, She Sends Me, Big World

Set 2: Tubing the River Styx, The Pit, Understand, Faker, Zed Nought Z, Letter Home, Kyle's Song, Moth

E: Raise A Glass, Crab Eyes

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS
  • http://www.themidnightcafe.org Mat Brewster

    You summed up my thoughts on moe. pretty well – a good deal of fun, but nothing that ever gets me really excited, and nothing that really sticks with me after it is done.

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    When are you coming back to the US? Bonnaroo goes on sale this weekend and Fumo and I am heading out for it. There’s room in the tent.

  • http://www.themidnightcafe.org Mat Brewster

    It looks like a great line up and I’d be sure to join you guys, but we won’t be back until late July/Early August. Every year this happens. For whatever reason something gets in the way and I can’t go. The worst of it is that I’ve got friend who live in Manchester and could easily have a free bed.