moe. showed off the true power of the band’s new lineup as the sextet closed out a three-night run at Brooklyn Bowl last weekend. Since adding Nate Wilson (Ghosts Of Jupiter, BlueStar Radiation) on keyboards and vocals (and flute!) to complement the band’s sound after he did an outstanding job filling the void left by guitarist Chuck Garvey while he recovered from a stroke, moe. has already noticed some unexpected benefits. One of them, the ability to help cover any imbalances that crop up unexpectedly, came in handy over the course of the weekend.

Friday night got underway with the fable-esque “New York City” and its timeless ode to the magic of the Big Apple. More than simply sucking up to whatever city the band finds itself in, moe. is unshakeable in its collective love for the City That Never Sleeps. After NYC, the only place for any band to go is on the “Road”, which was the next tune up on the setlist.

moe. – “New York City” – 5/19/23

The musical journey continued as Wilson, the metaphorical hitchhiker moe. picked up along the way, took the spotlight for one of his other bands’ tunes, a cracking take on “Yellow Tigers” (played by both Ghosts of Jupiter and BlueStar Radiation). Wilson’s close work with longtime friend, guitarist Al Schnier, was clear in the rich interplay between the pair—a preview of what to expect in years to come as the song evolves in the moe. songbook.

All loosened up and ready to take on the world, moe. dropped a generous “George” on the faithful to kick the dance party up a notch before ending the set on a high note with a dark, mysterious “Lazarus” that chilled in equal parts to its thrills. That short break quickly passed, one of the most beloved bass lines in the band’s catalog, the iconic intro to “Billy Goat” served as a call to arms for any wandering fans to come-a-runnin’!

The bass notes laid down by four-string wonder Rob Derhak were matched by his vocals on the close-to-his-heart “Goat” but somehow paled in comparison to the jangly, earth-shaking slaps he gave the instrument in the followup “Not Coming Down”. Joined by his thunderous partners in rhythm and crime, drummer Vinnie Amico and percussionist Jim Loughlin, Derhak went just as berserk during the sadly still needed rabble-rousing political jam.

moe. – “Not Coming Down” – 5/19/23

The instrumental “Wormwood” is another track that has seen new life since the addition of Wilson, with sections becoming practically unrecognizable, unlike its instantly familiar followup, Pink Floyd’s “Fearless”, which received a heartfelt cheer from the crowd.

A set-closing “Recreation Chemistry” gave Derhak a chance to recover from some vocal complications. It also gave fans one last opportunity to get funky. Then, after a quick series of “Al.Nouncements,” the band capped off night one with a reminder that they’d be back for a second round, cleverly selecting Steely Dan’s “Do It Again” to begin the two-song encore.

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The final number, “Bluejeans Pizza”, gave fans one last chance to trance dance, but during closing high notes it became more apparent something was affecting Derhak’s higher register. Still, it was an excellent show, and no fan left feeling anything but the warm fuzzies for their favorite band’s night two and anticipation for the third, final installment to come.

Saturday night at Brooklyn Bowl, moe. was feeling ”Okayalright” even though Derhak’s vocal issues were clearly still affecting his range. More of a frog in his throat than anything else, it was only noticeable due to the profound power Derhak injects into every note he sings, no matter the register. You never really clock how much Rob enjoys belting things out until he’s temporarily forced to restrain himself.

moe. – “Okayalright” – 5/20/23

Luckily for Derhak, he doesn’t have to go it alone. moe. is a band blessed with multiple capable singers, plus the talk-box Chuck Garvey uses during “Okayalright”. The one-two followup of “Big World” and “Ricky Martin” gave Derhak plenty of time to recharge before the notable highs and lows of “Plane Crash” continued his vexation.

After a fairly standard “Crushing”, moe. embraced Wilson’s multi-instrumentalist skills on a head-turning cover of Traffic’s classic “Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys”. Wilson’s brooding piano and falsetto take on the Steve Windwood-dominated tune helped bring the tune to life. The transition from “Low Spark” into the set-closing “Moth” was a tantalizing taste of segues to come and included a recently added break featuring Al’s spoken ode to the small wars that go unnoticed by nonparticipants.

Down to brass tacks, it was time for the final set of the weekend and the “Water” that got it started seemed aware of its own import, taking on a life of its own. The “Dangerous Game” that followed showed how much power the songwriting side of moe. has in them as the newish tune provided some of the most intense instrumental bursts of fury seen during the three-night run.

moe. – “Water” > “Dangerous Game” – 5/20/23

“Happy Hour Hero”, one of moe.’s longtime go-tos for sit-ins due to its open, spacey, simple, and fun nature, has been one of the songs where Wilson is able to claim territory of his own. He, Schnier, and Amico teamed up for an impressive jam that reached its climax with a singalong closing that again saw Derhak brushing the temporary ceiling on his vocal range.

The final chunk of the set was a three-and-a-half course meal in and of itself with an “ATL” appetizer before the sonic soup and salad of “Tubing The River Styx” and a special addition cover, Roy Ayers‘ “We Live In Brookln, Baby”  slipped into the mix by Derhak. From there, the only place left to go was down into “The Pit” for a fiery visit with Beelzebub himself. For the encore, the dark themes continued unabated with the Loughlin-penned, vibraphone-heavy “Mar De Mar” mashed with the monster mayhem of Blue Oyster Cult’s signature “Godzilla”. After the tune’s end, Derhak took the mic one last time to thank the ostensibly hometown crowd as sincerely as humanly possible, entreating them to get home safe.

One of the keys to any band or team’s long-term survival is the ability to address its weaknesses and build on its strengths, and moe. has actively done that for the betterment of all involved. In the competitive world we inhabit, it’s nice to see examples of successful teamwork, of people uniting for a common goal. If one player is having an off night due to a bug in their throat, there is plenty of backup waiting to help carry the load.

In making the bold move of changing the formula thirty-plus years into the band’s existence, moe. has made a play for continued growth and vitality in an ever-changing world. To see it pay off so quickly in ways both dramatic and subtle has given fans and the band even more reasons to move forward into the unknown, confident they can face any challenge great or small and keep on rocking!


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moe. – “Do It Again”, “Blue Jeans Pizza” – 5/19/23

[Video: Chad Sclove

moe. – “Happy Hour Hero” – 5/20/23

[Video: Chad Sclove]

Setlist: moe. | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 5/19/23

Set 1: New York City, Road, Yellow Tigers, George, Lazarus

Set 2: Billy Goat > Not Coming Down >Wormwood > Fearless (Pink Floyd), Faker > Recreation Chemistry

Encore: Do It Again (Steely Dan) Bluejeans Pizza

Setlist: moe. | Brooklyn Bowl | New York, NY | 5/20/23

Set 1: OkayAlright, Big World > Ricky Martin > Plane Crash, Crushing, Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys (Traffic) > Moth

Set 2: Water, Dangerous Game, Happy Hour Hero, ATL > Tubing The River Styx > Brooklyn > The Pit

Encore: Mar-De-Mar X Godzilla (Blue Oyster Cult)