moe. in Denver 2.4.11 & 2.5.11
Words By Nicholas Stock (PhatPhlogBlogger)
Night One- 2.4.11
I get excited every year about this time because moe. usually makes a stop in my town. After the announcement of two nights at the Ogden I got my tickets and began counting the days. The time finally arrived and Amy met me at the house and her, Phil and I drove down to the show. I dropped Amy off to grab a spot before meeting up with Goodner, azzman and tdog for a pre-show beer at Pete's. We headed over to the Ogden and got inside around 9 p.m. They took the stage at 9:25 p.m. and opened with a mind-bending Seat Of My Pants.
The first three songs were all Al. He took the helm and shredded his way through "SOMP", "Spaz", and "TGORM". The band finally caught its breath before ripping into one of their new songs "Suck A Lemon". I actually liked this one quite a bit and after listening to their version from NYE I was looking forward to it. They went into "Hector's Pillow" where Al continued to blow everyone away. I should note here that this show was a shredfest. It was simply rocktastic and definitely felt pretty heavy due in large part to the back and forth between Chuck and Al. They eased up a bit with "Bring You Down" before blasting back off with "Plane Crash" which clocked in well over the fifteen minute mark. It was a typical one hour moe. first set. Which meant big things for set two.
moe. made everyone happy by opening the second set with "Brent Black", but they kept us wondering by leaving it unfinished. They instead took us into a quick "Tubing The River Styx" before pulling the bottom out from under us with "The Pit". This was a huge highlight for me. They continued to melt faces with Chuck taking the helm this time. moe. took us on another sonic journey with another new song, "Downward Facing Dog". They brought Cornmeal violinist Allie Kral on stage for "Paper Dragon" and a huge "So Long". Allie is a little shredder in her own right but she has the ability to be very subtle as well as take the spotlight. She did both on Friday night. I'm always impressed with how well she can play with anyone. I've seen her sit in with other bands numorous times and this has to be one of my most enjoyable. They thanked Allie then segued nicely into "Water" which also clocked in at over fifteen minutes.
It's nice to see a band that is still out there touring regularly. I found myself watching the onstage improvisation not only with Allie but between the members of moe. They know each other so well after 2twenty years to let it all hang out and the often do just that. They bookended the set with a return to "Brent Black" which caused the room to implode in on itself. Good Times. It was a nineteen plus minute trip into the abyss and back that included a drum jam with Jimmy and Vinny followed by Rob taking his turn and then the rest of the band coming back to finish "BB".
They encored with the boogietastic "Time Again" followed by a crunchy "Zed Naught Z". I thought this was a great all around show that displayed some of the newer songs as well as some classics. I had a lot of fun on Al side even though at times got a little congested with overzealous dancers. Lately that seems to be par for the course. Not to mention it was a sixteen and up show which made for an interesting commingling of the ages. After heading out into the brisk Denver night I was certainly satisfied with the show. And I could not wait for night two.
SET I: Seat Of My Pants> (NH) Spaz Medicine> (NH) The Ghost Of Ralph's Mom, Suck A Lemon> (NH) Hector's Pillow> Bring You Down, Plane Crash
SET II: Brent Black (unfinished) > Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > Downward Facing Dog, Paper Dragon*> So Long*> Water> Brent Black
ENCORE: Time Again, Zed Naught Z
*(w. Allie Kral on fiddle)
Night Two- 2.5.11
moe. took the stage around 9:35. They let the crowd simmer a bit as they eased into a nice ambient jam before letting everyone know they were going into "Mexico". I got pumped right away because for once I actually called the opener.
They followed up "Mexico" with a short but sweet new song entitled "Day Dreaming". It had a gritty guitar line from Chuck that was utterly enjoyable. They went into a tasty and clean "Blue Jeans Pizza" before Al took the lead with "Good Trip". This song is just fun. I always love to hear it and I never expect it. They ended the set with a massive "Opium" into "32 Things". "Opium" had a slower tempo and seemed to ooze rather than jam. Allie Kral came back out for "32 Things" to finish the set. They blasted off on this one and Allie was mesmerizing. Once again moe. kept their first set to just over an hour meaning they would play another big second set.
moe. came back to the stage and once again began gingerly with a very tight "Haze" before popping to life with the first "Hey" of the refrain. They went into "Dr. Graffenberg" and robotically maneuvered through the intro before it became obvious that the doctor was in. A lot of their playing this evening seemed very deliberate and at times lost the smoothness of night one. That is probably why I feel that the first night was superior. After an extended jam with the doc they went into another new song penned by Chuck called "One Life". I actually like the bouncy energy in this song, not to mention it has a very obvious carpe-diem message. Rob let his fingers do the walking on the bass during a huge "Billy Goat" before they went into a quick "Understand". moe. finished the set with the one, two punch of "Kyle's Song" into "Moth". I love me some "Kyle's Song" and it took on a lounge-y almost jazzy feel. "Moth" was just a barnburner and a great way to end the set.
They came out for the encore with the instrumental "Mar-Dema" which was written specifically for the the "Electric Lemoe.nade Acid Test". It was downright jarring whether that's a good thing or not I don't know. "Spine Of A Dog" was fun but over too quick. And just like that it was done.
Two solid performances from moe. Overall the experience at the Ogden was great. If the jamband scene is retracting and it means that I get to see great bands in smaller and smaller venues, then I say play where you can sell it out. That's what Phish has been doing and apparently moe. is following suit. I mean honestly why play to half empty Fillmore when you can blow the roof off the Ogden? The smaller venue in combination with their solid performances made for a very fun weekend. Thanks moe. come back soon.
SET I: Mexico> Day Dreaming, Blue Jeans Pizza, Good Trip, Opium> 32 Things*
SET II: Haze> Dr. Graffenberg, One Life, Billy Goat> Understand, Kyle's Song> Moth
ENCORE: Mar-Dema, Spine Of A Dog
* w/ Allie Kral on Fiddle