Gov’t Mule w/ moe. 8.25.16 & moe. 8.26.16

Words By Nicholas Stock (Fat Guerilla Productions)
Photos By Nicholas Stock & Conrad Meyer
Audio By Chuck Miller & Marcus B

Thursday, August 25:

Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Morrison, Colorado

Moe. has a dedicated Colorado contingent. Each time Five Guys Named Moe makes the journey out West, we appear eager and ready to rage with the boys from Buffalo. We are a out here and we even get together for the occasional barbecue. Moe. is the steam engine that never slowed down. Musically they are still playing at a peak that eludes most touring groups. The individual members of this band are completely in synch on any given night and their two-day romp through the foothills was no exception. This year they teamed up with Summer Sessions stage-mates Gov’t Mule and relative newcomers Blackberry Smoke to play the famed Red Rocks Amphitheatre. The following evening moe. sold out the Boulder Theater for a much more intimate affair with the diehards.

A little sidenote for all the new parents trying to make it to the venue to catch the opener, leave even earlier. We got caught in traffic and by the time we dropped off the little one it was apparent we were working against the clock. We pulled into Lower North just in time to hear Blackberry Smoke jamming the Grateful Dead’s “Ramble On Rose.”

Blackberry Smoke Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 8.25.16

Blackberry Smoke is a rowdy Rock band with aspirations. Aspirations of rocking every single face on the planet. They have a twinge of Country and Soul, but their heart is Southern Rock. They are following along the trail paved by the Allman Brothers and Lynyrd Skynyrd. It was nice that we got to hear them from outside. This band had a dedicated following and it won’t be long before they are selling out their own shows at Red Rocks. They gained a lot of momentum performing this summer with Gov’t Mule which lead to dozens of live collaborations. Us jam fans eat that shit up.

Moe. took the hallowed stage for the first time in three years. I grabbed my camera and started snapping away as they went into an unbelievable “Rebubula” opener. They were pulling out the big guns early. This would be a theme throughout the run.

moe. Live at Red Rocks Amphitheatre on 8.25.16

Set One: Rebubula> Bones Of Lazarus, Annihilation Blues, Haze, Rainshine, Captain America, Moth> Hi & Lo> Brent Black, Thorazine Shuffle, Billy Goat

The transcendental “Rebubula” lingered, but then gave way to a searing “Bones of Lazarus.” All five members had an air of seriousness throughout the hour and forty-minute set. The Chuck Garvey sung shred-fest “Annihilation Blues” was the button on a monumental start. Rob took the mic on a perfect “Haze” before they went into a soaring “Rainshine.” The clouds had threatened throughout the afternoon, but began to clear as moe. played on. “Captain America” snapped everyone to attention as Red Rocks erupted in dance. By now the venue was full and the music shifted into second gear. Al took the mic to honor longtime fan Glenn Roberts, who passed away earlier this year, and mention that a few of the songs were being played in his memory. They continued with an intrepid “Moth” that featured some of the most creative playing of the entire set. The massive jam meandered before coming up for air on a tight “Hi & Lo.” The segues continued into a spot on “Brent Black” before the boys finally went back into the huddle. Moe. proceeded with the Gov’t Mule classic “Thorazine Shuffle,” causing fans to wonder what this meant for the upcoming Mule set. Suddenly, Rob slapped the bass and the “Billy Goat” was on the mountain. This was a solid close to a flawless one set show. I’m sure more than a few Warren fans were converted during this set. Night two would bring loads of musical deliciousness for the ".rons" in Colorado, but first Mr. Haynes and his band.

It’s been 12 years since Gov’t Mule shared the stage with moe. at Red Rocks. As the sun headed below the mountains, the Mule made their way to the stage for a chunky set of music. They opened with a series of classic Mule tunes starting with a tight “Railroad Boy.”

Set One: Railroad Boy> Mule> Soulshine, Banks Of The Deep End, Larger Than Life> If 6 Was 9> Larger Than Life, Kind Of Bird*, And Your Bird Can Sing, Captured> Opium> One Of These Days> Fearless> Blind Man In The Dark**

Encore: I Shall Be Released***

*Happy Together tease
**Shakedown Street tease
***w/ Charlie Starr, Brandon Still, Rob Derhak, Al Schnier, Chuck Garvey, Vinnie Amico & Jim Loughlin

Warren’s virtuoso guitar playing sometimes seems like a stream of musical consciousness. He plays from the heart and has no real need to stop, ever. The “Soulshine” came early much to the delight of fans. As the night came on the temperature dropped causing a rush on hoodies at the merch table. They kept the classic Mule coming with a stellar version of “Banks Of The Deep End.” Matt Abts sat low behind the kit as he kept the rhythm. I found myself mesmerized by the abundance of toms and lack of snare in his sound. The dark and brooding “Larger Than Life” was another highlight in this powerful set of music. Warren broke it up with a tight segue into and out of the Black Sabbath-esque “If 6 Was 9.” During “Kind of Bird” Haynes featured a crowd-pleasing riff on The Turtles’ “Happy Together.” Gov’t Mule kept the aviary theme going with “And Your Bird Can Sing.” They brought the tempo down with an impeccably timed “Captured.” The sweet tones gave way to shadowy riff of moe.’s “Opium,” and it became clear that the bands were trading songs for their sets. It was subtle, but fun for those paying attention. Suddenly, the heavy bass tones of Pink Floyd’s “One Of These Days” filled the amphitheatre. They treated us to a pair of covers from the English luminaries that ended with a spot on “Fearless.” Gov’t Mule closed with an incredible “Blind Man In The Dark” that featured a huge “Shakedown Street” jam.

For the encore all of the members of moe. and Blackberry Smoke joined Gov’t Mule for a heartwarming version of Bob Dylan’s “I Shall Be Released.” Music fans floated out of Red Rocks on a bed of clouds. Musically, this was an incredible show all around. Not only did we witness a reunion 12 years in the making, but we got the bands to trade covers in the process. Moe. seemed a bit more relaxed the following night in the cozy confines of the Boulder Theater.

Nicholas Stock’s Photo Gallery

Friday, August 26:

Boulder Theater
Boulder, Colorado

Moe. appeared utterly more comfortable playing in Boulder. They brought with them an energy and dedication to their fans that is rarely seen in live music today. We were basically treated to a surprise third set of music via a huge acoustic encore. The first clue that something was in the works came in the form of punctuality. Moe. took the stage at 9:01 PM leaving some fans scurrying to get inside. They opened with the precise instrumental “Defrost” which snapped into an explosive “Akimbo.” Jim Loughlin detonated on the drums like a repressed Catholic at their first beer bust. All in all, there seemed to be a different smell in air on night two.

moe. Live at Boulder Theater on 8.26.16

Set One: Defrost> Akimbo, Smoke> Meat> Tubing the River Styx> The Pit> Tailspin> Meat

Set Two: Spine of a Dog> Jazz Wank> The Happiest Days Of Our Lives> Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)> George, Buster> Rebubula^

Encore: Blond Hair and Blue Eyes*, Shoot First*, Blue Eyed Son*, Blister in the Sun*, Sensory Deprivation Bank

^Completes version from 8-25-16

Smoked meat was on the menu. The whole first set was heavy, that’s the word. The “Smoke” came on innocently enough, but the “Meat” was large and well… meaty. It featured the watertight guitar work of both Chuck and Al. Luckily as we emerged from the musical depths and much to the delight of the audience Jim went into a ridiculous vibraphone solo to begin “Tubing the River Styx.” The dark and heavy tones continued with a huge rendition of “The Pit.” “Tailspin” was a dance party freak out for the sold out crowd before they returned to “Meat” to end the first set.

The second set was equally impressive, but it took on a brighter tone all around. Moe. started with a massive “Spine of The Dog” that stretched past the fifteen-minute mark. The audience sang the chorus as moe. ripped into the opening chords. They pulled no punches from the start and this set would go on to feature some of the best improvisation of the entire run. A well-built “Jazz Wank” gave way to Pink Floyd’s “The Happiest Days Of Our Lives” into “Another Brick In the Wall (Part 2).” This was only the second time they’ve played these covers since their Floyd themed set at Peach Music Festival earlier in the month. “George” again took us on a journey as we all zoned in, band and patron alike. They finally took a breath before treating us to another big jam, this time on “Buster.” They finished by segueing into the “Rebubula” that started it all just the day before. It was an epic bookend to two jaw-droppingly good days of music. And if they had stopped there it would have been more than enough. However, as the clock struck midnight, moe. returned to the stage to inform us that unlike the night prior, they “didn’t have to get off the stage.”

I noticed they brought up stools and I knew we were in for something unusual. They started with a straight-forward Rob sung ode to his baby girl “Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes.” Chuck came back to the mic for a sultry “Shoot First.” In true democratic fashion and in theme with Rob, Al sang “My Blue Eyed Son.” It looked like they were gearing up for a finish, but there were more tricks in store. During Al.nouncements a fan emphatically requested the Violent Femmes’ “Blister In The Sun.” Not ones to make their audience wait, they went into the punk cover next. We provided the claps. They finished by plugging back in for a solid “Sensory Deprivation Bank.”

Moe. always finds a way to make it unique. For the kid who waited 14 years to hear them play “Blister In the Sun” I’m sure it was very memorable. As a band, moe. continues to innovate and write new and interesting tunes. They’ve just announced a two-night Tarantino-themed Halloween run in Philly. Maybe next year we can do a Thelma & Louise show in Denver… okay maybe not.

Nicholas Stock’s Photo Gallery


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