As we all know, time flies. Sometimes it is months before you and your favorite band cross paths again. For me that’s been the case as I’ve been going through withdrawal lately singin’ the mantra, “Gimme some moe.” Having only seen moe. once this past year, my body and mind have been begging for some “Lazarus”, “Buster”, “Rebubula”… anything by the music-master-minds. One thing moe. is known for re their annual shows at the Saranac Brewery in Utica. Their love for east coast fans, central New York venues and good beer makes the Saranac Brewery an essential stop on their seasonal tours.
Saturday night’s show had the atmosphere of an autumn backyard party, complete with a decked out Jack-O-Lantern dressed as a viking, front and center on stage. There was a chill in the air and a forecast promising rain but the crowds came flooding in anyways. Everyone was bundled up and feelin’ fine; the weather quickly became a minor detail of the evening. The band opened with “Haze”, belting out the lyrics “I wanna do this with you… Hey! Let’s go! I don’t care as long as you are there!”. The crowd melted together at a rapid pace and the energy was high with the anticipation of yet another electrifying set. Anyone who has been to a moe. show knows that the crowd is made up of highly devoted fans and you can hear people’s debates from every direction about what song the band will bust out next.
The first set had unique progression, as it certainly was not one of their jammier shows but flowed nicely. ”St. Augustine” was the highlight with it’s long gorgeous jam that is always so full of light. The first set had short renditions of a few favorites, “Wind It Up”->”Lost Along the Way” ->”Tambourine” and of course “Happy Hour Hero”, for tonight, a Saranac would do just fine! Some people around me seemed to be a little disappointed with the “Happy Hour Hero”, practically the brewery’s anthem. Overall, it seemed as though the first set came and went, leaving us all thirsty for some heavier jams during the second part of the show.
Sure enough they came back from break with a whole new attitude. The boys jammed “Billy Goat” into “Tailspin” and then pleased the crowd with an all-time favorite, “Kyle’s Song”. Everyone was singing along with the lyrics and smiles were all around. The energy was taken to a whole new level, with even the light show changing into something spectacular and matching the more intense vibe of the second set jams.
There was a lot of love and light in this show; Cass, an eleven-year member of the crew took the stage and played heavy on the drums. He wanted to go out with a bang so drummer Vinnie Amico swapped seats with his beloved crew member and let him rock out. THIS is what sets moe. apart; a moe. show is never just about the music. The music is our common ground, and is what connects us and gives us collective roots.
But moe. offers a whole other element to our shared reality. It is a wholesome, rich experience which earns them one of the most dedicated fan-bases around, not to mention the band’s political activism and the way in which they use their voice to spread messages. Towards the end of the show there were speeches given on hydro-fracking and information was offered in hopes of educating people on it’s negative impacts. Bass player Rob Derhak took his usual cracks at guitarist Al Schnier as Chuck Garvey laughed on and the band’s freeing chemistry overflowed out into the audience. It felt just like home.
Needless to say, the Saranac Show had a little bit of everything. As I made my way through the crowd bouncing around from “Chuck-side” to “Al-side” there was a common theme throughout. We’re all like old friends, supporting a band that supports us. So what could be a better encore then “Raise a Glass->Plane Crash”?! Might as well make a toast and say cheers to band that got us all tied up together inside this musical maze.
Set 1: Haze, St. Augustine, Wind It Up, Lost Along The Way, Tambourine, Happy Hour Hero > Seat Of My Pants
Set 2: Billy Goat > Tailspin > Kyle’s Song > Kids > Down Boy > Skrunk > Brent Black
Encore: Raise A Glass, Plane Crash
Download the show here: http://archive.org/details/moe2012-10-13.oktava.flac16