It’s a Central New York institution put on by New York’s jam band. For the second consecutive evening, moe., complete with an injured bassist, shook the Saranac Brewery to its hoppy core on Saturday with two sets filled with guitar-driven improvisation, fun set lists and even a few unconventional covers.
Bassist Rob Derhak was in a seat for the entire show, laid up with a leg injury, which did not limit him in any way, as he was as animated as ever in the band’s annual residency in Utica. If Friday’s show was more laid back, then Saturday’s was a lesson in in-your-face rock and roll.
And warming up the rowdy crowd was funk band Pigeons Playing Ping Pong. PPPP laid down a straightforward set filled with danceable and rhythmic numbers. Out of the gate, “Seat Of My Pants” featured a big solo each from guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, which were catapulted by the backing beats of drummer Vinnie Amico. “Big World”>”Ricky Marten”>”Spine Of A Dog”>”Not Coming Down”>”Wormwood”>”Okayalright” took up the next hour or so. While there wasn’t a section of the groove that stands out as supreme, the songs flowed together, allowing moe. to display the tight musicianship they’re loved for. “McBain” featured a short outro jam that crescendo-ed the crowd into happy oblivion just before setbreak.
In 2015, Saranac released a moe.-themed beer, aptly titled Hoppy Hour Hero, a strong IPA that was the featured beverage of the night. (Amico discussed this and a range of other topics with NYSMusic back in May). Without hesitation, moe. began playing “Happy Hour Hero,” which exulted a huge road from the attendees.
“Bearsong” began and amidst the noodling emerged an unusual treat: House of Pain’s iconic hit “Jump Around.” It’s expected for moe. to throw in covers here and there, but I was among many who didn’t see this coming. The crowd sang every word of the anthemic chorus, before the band veered into “Tailspin.”
“Opium” then bled into “lylelovit.” With the curfew approaching, and the guitars dueling, Schnier began “Downward Facng Dog,” eliciting a huge applause, and closed out the energetic and overall very good set with “32 Things.”
“Buster” brought the 2016 Saranac run to a close and gave the moe.ron famoe.ly nothing but smiles and happiness. The band thanked the crowd and exited, and everyone in my area began hugging and embracing.
Now that the band has found a legitimate home in CNY, it begs the question: Is moe. ever bringing moe.down back? Amico has said it will be back, so now we just have to wait. But two nights at Saranac every summer is a pretty great consolation.
07/30/2016 • Saranac Brewery • Utica, NY
Summer Tour 2016
Set 1: Seat Of My Pants>,Big World > Ricky Marten > Spine Of A Dog > Not Coming Down > Wormwood > Okayalright McBain
Set 2: Happy Hour Hero, Bearsong > Jump Around > Tailspin >, Opium > lylelovit.>, Downward Facing Dog >, 32 Things