After twenty something years of being a touring unit, highly successful and long-running bands like moe. are always looking for new ways to approach what they do. Perhaps one of the best ways to see moe. in full force and at its finest is during the group’s extended runs in a single location, which come in addition to the group’s numerous one-off shows during a tour. Such runs are a treat for performers and fans alike. Performers get the chance to delve deeper into their catalog than they normally would and get to have fun with it, often putting on a string of unique shows that allow for more depth, both in their song selections and the variety of jams. In turn, dedicated fans who make the entirety of the run are treated to a diverse offering of what moe. has to offer, feeling more connected to the group as it uses the multiple performances to its benefit and treats the audiences to special surprises not frequently seen during a standard tour.
Of course, moe. long ago came up with the absolute best way to experience their music over a weekend with friends and famoe.ly — a weekend long event known as moe.down. Usually held in upstate New York at the Snow Ridge Ski Lodge near the end of summer, this year sees the festival return after a two-year hiatus on the Fourth of July weekend, making this year’s event extra-special for friends and famoe.ly who’ve been eagerly anticipating a return to moe.’s iconic festival. Though there are some stellar supporting acts on the line-up this year — including Blackberry Smoke, Fishbone, and Railroad Earth as well as some of the top up-and-coming jam bands on the circuit — the real attraction to moe.down is moe., who will play seven sweet, sweet sets over the festival’s course.
Age hasn’t changed the energy moe.’s approach to performing multi-day runs or festivals at all, though their execution has gotten sharper with the passing of time. Listeners agree that moe. is in one of their most prolific and impressive eras right now, and the group has been for the last several years. Watching bassist Rob Derhak and the abandon with which he seems to approach the bass these days is a joy to behold. He isn’t going through the motions — he truly can’t wait to engage in his next lightspeed bass-slapping spree. Guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey have refined their tandem style of play beyond telepathy. Each instinctively knows where the other is going musically and has complete faith in the ability of the other to get where they need to go while doing it in style. That high-wire act is all made possible by the impossibly precise yet completely reliable drumming of Vinnie Amico. With the scattershot of percussive fills, vocals, and impressive gains on the mallet-based instruments by Jim Loughlin, this edge gives moe. the most well-rounded sound they have ever enjoyed. Seeing that level of comfort has reassured long-time fans that not only is the future still bright for the band but that runs like these are simply too special to be missed.
Because moe.down has the benefit of being moe.’s own festival, the band has complete creative control to get real weird with it, perhaps bolstered by the fact that the crowd is there to see them, setting aside obligations of careers and kids to truly commit time to see the band that they love. The mutual love built over the years since the band’s humble beginnings inspires both the artists and their fans to truly embrace the value of multi-day runs. And for this year’s moe.down, the band is sure to outdo itself, as always, with the goal — similar to touring — to make each year something special and create an intimate, family vibe. As we gear up toward moe.down, let’s take a look at moe.’s recent three-day visit to the legendary live music mecca, New Orleans, coinciding with Jazz Fest to dissect their methodology in making a run something beyond simply three-in-a-row, shall we?
4.27.17, La Petit Theatre, New Orleans, LA
You would be hard pressed to find a venue with a more prestigious history that the La Petit Theatre in the heart of New Orleans’ renowned French Quarter. The small size of the venue and the narrowness of the streets frequently necessitate that a majority of the equipment be carried a few blocks by hand. The band and their dedicated crew saw this as a price well-worth paying for the opportunity to perform in such a legendary room.
The first night’s tickets were only available in advance as part of a three-show ticket, so the room was packed but not as bad as it would have been had it sold out via sales to the general public, which it surely would have as a simple standalone. The chance to see moe. in such an intimate environment was icing on the cake for the diehards who packed the theater. Knowing the crowd was well stocked with superfans allowed moe. to deliver some frequently requested tunes to the delight of friends and family. The always-requested “Four” ended up sandwiched between arguably the best known moe. tune, “Rebubula,” while songs that had fallen by the wayside like “ATL” were able to make much requested comebacks. Long-form jammers like “George” and “Time Ed” were given plenty of space to breathe and stretch while new tunes like “Don’t Wanna Be” were able to find their place alongside long settled classics.
Thanks to Rex Thomson we have video highlights of all three nights to get a true sense of the dynamic range and individual flavor of each night. Take a tour through the first night with the selection of full song clips below:
“Queen Of Everything”
“Mar De Mar>George>Time Ed”
“Don’t Wanna Be”
Setlist: moe. | Le Petit Theatre | New Orleans, LA | 4/28/17
Set I: Crab Eyes > Threw It All Away > Crab Eyes, Queen Of Everything, Mar-DeMa > George > Time Ed
Set II: ATL, Annihilation Blues, Don’t Wanna Be, Rainshine > Rebubula > Four > Rebubula
Enc: Johnny Lineup, House Of The Rising Sun
4.28.17, Civic Theater, New Orleans, LA
After the cozy confines of the Petite Theatre, moe. and crew were more than happy to see the Civic Theater, a room with a stage large enough to accommodate their full rig and the additions of their new friends Turkuaz. The downtown venue was perfectly situated among some stellar restaurants and the hotels that many of their fans were utilizing to enjoy their Crescent City adventure. Bellies full of local delicacies like Crawfish, Étouffée, begniets, and more, fans recovered from the previous evening’s hijinx and were back and ready for more. After a mutually enjoyable love-fest sit-in session on Jam Cruise, the bands moe. and Turkuaz had been looking for opportunities to share the stage for a longer and more involved set of tunes. Thanks to their long history of bringing in other acts for similar jams, moe. was more than ready with a selection of rollicking, hook-laden covers and band staples to bring out various combinations of their many faceted opening act.
Thanks to a wonderful warm up set from Turkuaz, moe. seemed to start very much ahead of the game on night two, and their aggressive setlist gave fans little chance to catch their breath. Check out the clips below to see and hear highlights from their first performance at the Civic Theatre, including band classics like “Spine Of A Dog” and “Plane Crash” alongside covers of tunes from such luminaries as The Rolling Stones, Sam & Dave, Talking Heads and The Band.
“Bring It Back Home>Blue Jeans Pizza”
“Waiting For The Punchline”
“Spine Of A Dog>Plane Crash”
“Can’t You Hear Me Knocking”
“Life During War Time”
Setlist: moe. | The Civic Theatre | New Orleans, LA | 4/28/17
I: Brent Black > Bring It Back Home > Blue Jeans Pizza, Puebla > Brent Black, Waiting for the Punchline
II: Spine Of A Dog > Plane Crash, Tambourine, Downward Facing Dog, Brittle End, Can’t You Hear Me Knocking* > McBain
E: Soul Man, Ophelia, Life During Wartime
4.29.17, Civic Theater, New Orleans, LA
After two nights of top-notch performing, the expectations for the third and final night of the run were incredibly high. Jazz Fest itself was in full swing, and many in attendance found their way to the main fairgrounds during the day for the wild selection of bands that unwittingly served as openers for the second round of the explosive collaboration that is moe.kuaz. Not content to simply repeat the fun of night one, moe. upped the ante with one more special guest, longtime friend and percussionist Mike Dillon, who was welcomed with open arms for one of the most emotionally moving musical passages of the weekend.
The night once again saw righteous Turkuaz sit-ins on tunes from moe.’s catalog and from that of Paul Simon and the Talking Heads. However, moe. was “Fearless ” in their approach to other covers, throwing in tunes from Pink Floyd and Frank Zappa along the way. In the midst of the guest mania, Mike Dillon and Loghlin used a long stretch of “Recreational Chemistry” to engage in a wonderfully robust and intense game of follow-the-leader up and down the electrified Mallet Kat. After showing he had progressed to the point where there was nothing Dillon could throw at him that he couldn’t match, focus shifted to the front of the stage where the two brothers-in-arms shared a hug that is literally the heart of the song and their friendship made manifest. The dual bands played an appropriate “Burning Down The House” after lighting the stage on fire with their sonic pyrotechnics. While we could go on and on about the mayhem, it is probably for the best for you fine folks to watch the fun for yourselves below:
“Happy Hour Hero”
“Fearless>Deep This Time”
“Late In The Evening”
moe. | Civic Theatre | 4/29/17 | New Orleans, LA
Set I: Akimbo > Happy Hour Hero, Timmy Tucker > meat., Jungle Boogie
Set II: Yodelittle > Down Boy, Skrunk, Fearless > Deep This Time, Cosmik Debris, Recreational Chemistry
Encore: Wind It Up, Late In The Evening, Burning Down The House
Sadly, a surprise fourth show at the legendary Preservation Jazz Hall had to be kept from the rank-and-file fans, and tickets were sold out without even announcing who was playing. That kept an ever-growing army of music lovers and moe.rons from swarming the legendary venue for one last chance to hear the music they had spent the weekend soaking in.
With the going-ons in New Orleans at the tail-end of April used as an indicator of how moe. will be approaching the 16th moe.down starting at the end of this month, then fans undoubtedly are in for a treat. With such a massive time allotment, the band is sure to offer sets designed specifically for older fans, busting out songs that have been tabled from rotation and getting into the nitty-gritty of savoring extended jams. In turn, the group is sure to similarly welcome out many other musicians to share the stage with them, taking advantage of the close proximity a festival has to offer. Perhaps most importantly, at moe.down 16, just as it was for the group’s past New Orleans run, both the audience and the band are sure to find themselves energetically tuned into one another — one of the greatest benefits of three-plus nights with your favorite jam act.
While moe. also acts as a host band for Summer Camp Music Festival, moe.down makes no pretense about why its many fans have gathered. The limited scope does also limit the attendance, but it also unites those in attendance in one glorious primary objective — three straight days of extended jams with their beloved five guys named moe. Tickets are still available for fans, new and old, to immerse themselves in the twin guitar-led attack that has delighted audiences for twenty-seven years now. So come join moe. for seven sets of serious jamming that will surely encompass the length and breadth of their legendary catalog with a crowd full of the most ardent and jamming fans imaginable! Tickets available here.