Friday Feb 3, moe. brought some explosive energy to the Higher Ground in Burlington, VT for the first of two sold out shows. As a popular and intimate venue, the crowd packed the venue like sardines in a can and quickly connected with the band making for a heater of a night. It can’t go without mentioning that Burlington has one of the best selection of breweries in the northeast and Higher Ground serves a lot of them on tap.
As attendees gulped down the micro-brews, the band warmed up with a solid “Captain America” featuring a tight solo from Chuck. As they jammed a bit, Vinnie shifted drum rhythms to a slightly quicker speed, allowing a smooth transition into the funky “Akimbo.” While tuning up their instruments, Chuck took to the microphone to comically introduce themselves saying, “Hello Everybody, we are moe. and we are not from Vermont. But, we like Vermont. We are Vermont-curious.” before counting off their own gloomy “Brittle End.”
The Instrumental “CalifornIA” came next with a playful boost of energy as Al took his turn with a ripe solo that unfolded to an unforgettably extended “Bring You Down.” Taking a brief moment, the band then invited Jamie Masefield to the stage to sit-in on mandolin for the remainder of the first set. Vinnie began the traditional “stick-count” and intro for “Happy Hour Hero.” When the bridge arrived, Chuck graciously gave Jamie the reins of the solo giving the song an earthly bluegrass feel. Not too long into the jam, Jamie persuaded Chuck to share finger-picking licks with him while the rest of the band kept a steady pace, gradually picking up momentum. When the groove was satisfied, they collectively segued into a steamy “Silver Sun” to end the set. Before taking a break, Al whimsically gave praise to Masefield with “One of Vermont’s natural resources!”
Returning to the stage, Garvey heckled Rob a little bit to get “ready to rock” by hilariously improvising a brief song with the remaining members. They quickly jumped into a pumped up “Puebla” featuring some technical fretwork by Chuck, who seemed to be the shining bright that evening. Without a huddle, they thumped into “Crab Eyes” with a fantastic solo by Al. Next came a massive “Yodelittle > Down Boy > Yodelittle” sandwich featuring some stellar bass grooves by Derhak. Jim and Vinnie percussively attacked “Y.O.Y.” with a vengeance as they transitioned into a fiery “Water” to end the set. With minutes left of the show, moe. rocked out Pink Floyd’s “In The Flesh” while Loughlin stepped up to the mic and belted out the lyrics. The ensemble then propelled the brimming Higher Ground with the sing-a-long favorite “Plane Crash,” to conclude the show.
Following onto the next night, moe. topped-off the first part of their winter tour with one more sold-out performance at the Calvin Theatre in Northampton, Massachusetts. Oddly, the Marquee sign on the front of the building was only half lit, highlighting the word “Vin,” which must have been some sort of foreshadowing of the performance that was about to unfold. The theatre quickly filled as fans were anticipating a fun-filled, top-notch performance. Shortly after their initial start time, members of the group embraced the stage and warmed up with “Defrost > Waiting for the Punchline.” Next came the new Rob-sung “Prestige Worldwide” which included a knarly performance by Jim. moe. then brought the mood down a couple levels with the fan-favoirte “Four” before segueing into the booty-shaker “Seat of My Pants.” During Al’s quaking solo, the crowd went ballistic as he played his guitar against the top of a fan’s head, using it as a slide. Moe. then churned up a mega “McBain” to round up the first set.
There’s really only one thing to say about the second set, Non-stop Party! Simple as that. moe. played a monstrous triple-decker “The Pit” bundled with a conga-filled jam in”Deep This Time” and a 25 minute “Recreational Chemistry.” But, it didn’t stop there. The segues were endless as every member was firing on all cylinders and Garvey’s fierce guitar work on “Bullet” was dangerously captivating. Jim displayed a colorful vibraphone solo that led into a percussively dominant “Brent Black” and featured an intense drum jam with Vinnie joining Jim on his congas and timbales! At this point, the audience was sucked into the energy of the duo’s performance, cheering and hollering with excitement as some recorded it with their phones for future reminiscing. As Vinnie jumped back on his drum set, Rob emerged from stage-side and entertained the audience with a beefy bass solo.
Before the band continued with the encore, Al traditionally took a few minutes to interact with the fans with some announcements. Giving fans a heartfelt “Letter Home” and “New York City” was a great way to bring the tour to a close before they pick back up in a few weeks. Before everyone began filtering out, Rob took to the mic one last time to request a quick photo. In doing so, he convinced half of the venue to give their photographer, Paul Citone, the middle finger from behind the band. Once again, proving this band to be one of the best in the business!
Higher Ground – 2.3.17
Set I: Captain America > Akimbo, Brittle End, CalifornIA > Bring You Down, Happy Hour Hero* > Silver Sun*
Set II: Puebla, Crab Eyes, Yodelittle > Down Boy > Yodelittle, Y.O.Y. > Water
Encore: In The Flesh, Plane Crash
*w/ Jamie Masefield
Calvin Theatre – 2.4.17
Set I: Defrost > Waiting for the Punchline, Prestige Worldwide, Four > Seat of My Pants > McBain
Set II: Tubing the River Styx > The Pit > Deep This Time > The Pit > Rec. Chem. > The Pit > Bullet > Brent Black
Encore: Letter Home, NYC