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.