moe. closed out its Syracuse residency Saturday, March 4, with a scorching show at the F Shed. A show that featured a hot first set, a second set “Kids” sandwich and three-song encore.
The above referenced residency had moe. spending a few days in town being feted by the Syracuse Area Music Awards as inductees into that organization’s Hall of Fame, along with a three song performance at Friday’s award ceremony. Saturday was the culmination of a great weekend of music in the Salt City.
The frigid night began with guitarist Chuck Garvey’s monotone greeting, “Welcome to the hockey rink. Are you ready to rock? I said, ‘Are you ready to rock?’ I can’t hear you. Are you ready to rock?” As he fiddled with the tuning knobs of his Fender Stratocaster, he proclaimed, “I’m not quite ready to rock.” The lackluster delivery of a standard arena rock tone gave an ironic insight to the night’s proceedings. moe. – and Garvey – were, in fact, ready to rock.
The F Shed is one of the more unique venues on the live music circuit, as it is literally a shed. Located in the Regional Market on Syracuse’s north side, the market provides not only a venue for live music, but a year-round location for farmer’s markets and flea markets. Garvey’s hockey rink reference isn’t a far stretch. One could easily see a set of dasher boards and red and blue lines being a part of this facility. With outside temperatures hovering in the zero range, the indoor temps seemed just slightly warmer upon entry. Thoughts of an impending hockey game weren’t a far stretch.
The show opened with a boom, boom, boom, as the band busted into “Crab Eyes” from Wormwood. The song had a heavy Garvey/Jim Loughlin presence, which set the tone for the remainder of the night. The band dipped into its early 2000s catalog of songs featuring Garvey’s vocals and Loughlin’s percussion often.
The first set was segue after segue as the band whirled through “Threw It All Away” and a rare moe., version 1.0 run-through of “Funky Reuben” before seamlessly moving back into “Crab Eyes.” The nearly all-segued first set continued with Garvey leading the way out of a spacey “Silver Sun.” “Akimbo” closed the solid first set, finally allowing the near capacity crowd to catch its breath.
Following an extended setbreak, the band kicked into a low-key “Moth” to usher in the second set. moe. kept it mellow as Rob Derhak’s familiar bass intro to “Kyle’s Song” segued out of “Moth.” Garvey’s mid-song solo kicked up the pace with the crowd following suit.
Throughout the night, the lights incorporated the industrial sized ceiling fans into the scenery, creating a scene reminiscent of Willy Wonka’s ‘Fizzy Lifting Drink.’
The opening notes of “Kids” ripped open a box of crazy that resulted in a “Kids” sandwich to wrap up the second set. “Down Boy” set a funky tone into “Hector’s Pillow” and “Bring You Down” before settling back into “Kids.”
After a quick break, Al Schnier returned with his usual slate of al.nouncements. Offering a cheers to the crowd with a can of Utica Club, Schnier ran through engagement announcements and show numbers from various fans as well as a tease of moe.down’s return to Snow Ridge Ski Area this summer.
An energetic encore began with the slow swirling build up of “Wind It Up,” with Loughlin’s mallets working overtime. The closing chorus turned into a sing-along as lights lit up the inside of the shed. The crowd-pleasing “Nebraska” followed with nearly all in attendance joining in.
moe. has often used classic rock staples as show closers. Tonight was one of those times. The Who’s “Baba O’Riley” has been tackled by many but moe. seemed particularly equipped to replicate the synthesizer opening using Loughlin’s malletkat and guest violinist Nick Picciccini from Floodwood tackling the signature solo with ease.
“Baba O’Riley” ended the night on a high note. The entire night capped off a three-day celebration of moe. as hometown heroes following the band’s induction into the Syracuse Area Music Awards (SAMMYS) Hall of Fame on Thursday and a performance at the awards ceremony on Friday.
Seeing moe. perform in their home area creates a great homey vibe that reveals a fondness of their roots as a blue collar jamband from Central New York. At this point in their storied career, moe. is playing with an energy that is still infectious to the long-timers yet finds them gaining new fans along the way. The return of moe.down to its original location in the Tug Hill can only add to what could end up being the peak year in the band’s career.
Set I: Crab Eyes > Threw It All Away > Funky Reuben > Crab Eyes, Captain America > Rise > Silver Sun > Akimbo
Set II: Moth > Kyle’s Song > Kids > Down Boy > Hector’s Pillow > Bring You Down > Kids
Encore: Wind It Up, Nebraska, Baba O’Riley*
* with Nick Piccininni (Floodwood) on violin