moe. decided to make their abbreviated fall tour closer in Asheville one to remember for the locals and refugees of Hurricane Matthew alike. Their entire run has seen the band challenging themselves with tricky set lists and the musical gymnastics inherent in finding new ways to flow from one tune to the next. Thankfully for diehard fans and first timers alike, moe. was more than up for the task they’d set themselves.


The New Mountain Ampitheater in Asheville, North Carolina is an imaginative stretch of the term, using a tree-lined lot next to the venue proper to host a series of outdoor shows over the warm summer months. The town itself is home to several college campuses and has long been a hot bed of the live music scene. With Hurricane Matthew zeroing in on the east coast and cancelling shows in the region music fans and storm refugees alike streamed into the city to escape the weather and get out and dance their blues away.


When the set kicked off with the old-school classic “Bear Song”, savvy fans anticipated shenanigans and were quickly rewarded when the band took a left turn into the song “Assfinger.” The entire run has been filled with musical sandwiches and while the move wasn’t a shock, it was a welcomed move that showed a willingness to swing for the fences by moe. that is wonderful to see. The fun didn’t stop there however as they took an extended instrumental exploration that eventually wound it’s way into “Ricky Marten.”

Guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey were a perfect mixture of focused and playful, grinding when needed but not afraid to bend a note farther than needed. With the first set dominated by early favorites the pair were playing around in very familiar territory and yet still managed to find new ways to engage the audience and themselves. Even the most satisfied composers can lose passion after 25 years of playing the same song, but the guitarist…hell, the entire band… was grinning with delight as they crossed freshly created musical divides.


A new wrinkle was introduced when the band kept the non-stop jam going as they flowed into “Time Ed.” Bassist Rob Derhak tested his vocal range with the falsetto highs and baritone lows while continuing to work his instrument to it’s fullest degree. Slapping strings and pounding the body for resonance, Derhak wrung every last drop of funky power out of the beleaguered bass while smiling ear to ear at the results. Upon reaching the first big solo break, the tempo and sound itself started to morph and the band gracefully left the confines of “Time Ed” for some crowd-pleasing “Head.”


Adding cliffhangers as they went the high speed, “Head” got the people off their seats towards the back of the venue and raging from the stage to the back gates.  When familiar elements of “Bear Song” started creeping in around the edges, the cheers were deafening through the piece and long after the conclusion. The band had made it through the entire high wire, crowd-pleasing set seamlessly and had even left themselves a musical task for finishing.


Returning to the stage, Garvey responded to calls for songs with a promise to do just that. “It IS why we’re here” he said with a grin. The languid drum intro to “Water” wound the crowd up and got a bit of a sing-a-long going. The harmony guitar duet between Garvey and Schnier was particularly intricate and impressive. Hearkening back to the unity of the first set, the band slipped into “Montego” without missing a beat and before giving the song an actual proper ending.

Thanks to the efforts of our own videographer Rex Thomson we have some incredible highlights from the second set to share, starting with the opening double play:

Though they elected to come to a full stop, moe.’s next blast of wickedness, “Crab Eyes,” started off like a rocket so there really was no time for fans to catch their breath. Between the soaring guitar lines being laid down and the stop and start razor sharp drumming of Vinnie Amico, the version of the song laid down was one of the more impressive in recent memory. You can watch the fun for yourself below:

The always-stirring “Wind It Up” was up next. The spirit of the song is powerful, with it’s long slow build towards a frenzy that literally takes control of the listener, body and soul. While headbanging to the rhythm, the band passionately implores the audience, “Be on my side, I’m on your side.” For a band known for their levity, this message and it’s complete earnestness is a clarion call for unity that is impossible to ignore.

That spirit isn’t confined to the stage or the band members mind you. moe. has one of the tightest knit road crews in the business. One of their most visible team members, guitar tech Frank Robbins, showed the kind heart that has made chanting his name a favorite pass time of fans across the country. Robbins noticed a young girl in the front row shielding her ears from the sonic onslaught and quickly fished out a pair of ear plugs and delivered them to her. That simple combination of awareness and caring exemplifies not just him, but the entire team and their mission to make the world a better place through music.


Now ready to continue her first moe. show, the young girl faced the band who was preparing to launch into what would be the final stanza of music in the set, a half hour three song blast that started with “The Road.” Winding through the songs confines percussionist Jim Loughlin became more animated, adding flourishes and accents and generally acting as the seasoning on top of a rich meaty musical stew.

Again, seemingly dead set on following their muse in whatever direction it led, the band abandoned the finale of “The Road” for the new confines of “McBain.” Managing to complete the rocker after over a dozen minutes of thick funky jams punctuated by massive xylophone and vibraphone solos work by Loughlin, moe. seemed to remember their unfinished “Time Ed” from the first set out of nowhere and worked their way back into the tune, giving it, and the set a truly satisfying conclusion.

Check out the 33 minute-plus set ending three song jam below:

Coming back onstage for his traditional “al.nouncements” segment, Schnier thanked the fans for braving the weather and apologized again for the cancellations of the final two shows. He read notes from the crowd celebrating anniversaries, birthdays, and plain old messages of love and appreciation from the sea of loving faces. With the outdoor music curfew coming up, moe. held a quick huddle and changed their encore plans to a crowd pleasing double header of covers, House Of Pain‘s “Jump Around” and Pink Floyd‘s “In The Flesh (Part 2).”

Granted, these are not songs people would normally associate with each other or contemplate pairing.  Thankfully, moe. is known for thinking outside of the box, and with some inspired rapping and singing on occasion vocalist Loughlin’s part the show ended to a resounding round of applause, cheers and calls for “Just one more song!” Sadly, their pleas went unheard for now, but who knows what the future holds. There is, after all, “The Road” left to finish, though in their hearts, moe. fans hope the road is never done for the five guys called moe.

Check out their encore below, and don’t forget to check out moe. when they come your way sometime soon!