moe. is approaching their thirtieth anniversary, and Sunday night’s show at Ponte Vedra Beach, FL’s Florida’s Ponte Vedra Concert Hall was a perfect snapshot of where they’ve been, where they are, and how far they can still climb in the years to come.
If you’re trying to get a sense of the “State of moe.,” you should look no farther than the show opener, “Prestige Worldwide”. Last night’s version showed everything that moe. is doing best right now in one fell swoop. Crisp, connected, and electric, the newish tune has everything that makes a classic moe. tune—from extended distinct sections that allow each member to exaggerate and deviate to a snappy vocal selection to, most importantly, a sense of newness that doesn’t rely on the goodwill of songs past. It’s a long, jamming tune that only adds to the already deep catalog they carry in their hip pockets.
One of the best developments the band has seen over the years has been the steady rise to prominence of percussionist Jim Loughlin as a featured player and creative force within the band. On “Prestige Worldwide” and the later track “MarDeMa”, you see the band hanging their musical hat on the sounds he creates, a responsibility he may not have been able to shoulder in the earliest of days, but which is now well within his ever-expanding skill set on the vibraphone. With his vocal skills also featured in a second set jam, “Don’t Wanna Be”, there doesn’t seem to be a limit to how far into the main rotation Loughlin will someday climb.
This space has given the two-headed guitar assault of Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier even more melodic freedom to search out common ground and new territory they can claim as their own. Take, for example, the band’s extended first set “She”, which provided an extended platform for Garvey’s sharpness to play off the thicker sound of Schnier’s rhythm work.
After a double dose of Schnier-sung tunes, “Letter Home”, the heartfelt ode to the heart of the band’s success and the friends and “Famoe.ly”, made a strong appearance. That was followed followed by a nearly 20-minute reading of “Faker” to close set one. The extended jams that flowed towards the song’s fifteen-minute mark flitted back and forth from light to heavy, held together by the rock-solid stick work of drummer Vinnie Amico.
After a short break, moe. came back and came together for the harmony-laden “Spine Of A Dog”, showcasing one of the band’s most beloved weapons: their distinct and infectious blended vocal sound. “Spine” has launched many a segue over the years, and this one was no different, giving way to a rollicking “Queen Of Everything” before metamorphosing into their recently-introduced “Legend Of Zelda”-inspired jam. Loughlin passed the lead of the aforementioned “Don’t Wanna Be” over to bassist Rob Derhak for his ever-evolving, ever-jaw-dropping bass showcase, “Timmy Tucker”. It would be fair to say that Rob’s evolution has been the most dynamic over the lifespan of the band, and his display of slapping, singing and pure joy in his work will always serve as an instant hook for new fans and a touchstone for fans of all ages.
The nearly ten-minute jam at the heart of this “Tucker” may not top fans’ “All Times” lists, but it was certainly one of the most remarkable passages on an evening that had already seen many a mesmerizing moment. When the band snapped back into focus for the closing vocal sting section, it’s a good thing fans were ready—otherwise, there would have been a room packed with fans suffering from near-terminal sonic whiplash. Having given the audience a nice variety of tunes from their entire lifespan, moe. gave the older fans one last nod with the always-welcome dance party-fueling shakedown called, simply, “George”. Adding yet another (nearly) twenty minutes of boogie-inducing jams to an already-packed evening was a defiant closing statement, a rallying cry to the faithful and new fan alike. moe. isn’t going away quietly…they are still advancing and looking to take no prisoners along their way.
Connecting with their fans both on and off the stage is something with which moe. has always excelled. One of the many ways the love is passed back and forth is the habit Schnier has picked up of reading notes from the crowd, a tradition referred to as “Al.nouncements.” Thought generally genially mocked by bassist Derhak, these moments usually reinforce the love fest between moe. and their devotees, with Schnier always conducting a heartfelt wrap up to the night.
From there, all that was left was the closing encore—a loopy, time-changing “Time Again” that gave Amico one more opportunity to break the laws of rhythm with impunity as narrow guitar lines intertwined, bass thumped in heartbeat regularity, and Loughlin chances to his partner-in-backbeats’ rolling thunder display. The crowd walked out of the theater quite a bit earlier than usual thanks to the early curfew, but the shell-shocked and smiling expressions were the same as they have been for decades now. Let’s hope, for all our sakes, that this trend continues another thirty years down the road.
Once again, thanks to taper Marcus Flarcus, we have audio for you from the show below! Enjoy!
moe. – 12/2/18 – Full Audio
[Audio: Taped by marcus b]
moe. continues their ongoing tour later this week with performances in Charlotte, NC (12/5); Birmingham, AL (12/6); Atlanta, GA (12/7, 12/8); and Nashville, TN (12/9). For a full list of their upcoming dates, head to the band’s website
Setlist: moe. | Ponte Vedra Concert Hall | Ponte Vedra Beach, FL | 12/2/18
Set One: Prestige Worldwide > Lost Along the Way, MarDeMa, She, Letter Home > Faker
Set 2: Spine of a Dog > Akimbo, Queen of Everything > Legend of Zelda, Don’t Wanna Be > Timmy Tucker > George
Encore: [Al.nouncements], Time Again