Standing out in the cold is rarely a good time, but this did not stop the masses from waiting outside the Palace Theatre in Albany for moe. and Eastbound Jesus to kick off two nights to close the year out in Albany. The doors didn’t open until 7 pm, yet there were plenty of people waiting to get in, standing around, mingling, and talking about what songs would be played, how excited they were to get in and see two of the hottest bands around.
Eastbound Jesus, from Greenwich, New York, had the crowd’s attention from the moment they took the stage at The Palace Theater, opening up for moe.’s first of two nights to cap off 2013. ”Waiting for the Sun” off Northern Rock was not your typical bluegrass, mixed with electric guitar solos. This is one of separating factors Eastbound from the mainframe of bluegrass. This jam could have gone on infinitely, but as they were the opening act, time restriction definitely brought this jam of endless possibilities to a halt. “Where the Winter goes” focused on harmonizing echoing the sound of Fleet Foxes, Crosby, Stills & Nash, among others, giving fans a chance to see this band for their many instruments, but also having a genuine good time on the stage, with the overflow engulfing the crowd. The multiple instruments played was very impressive, and although the lead guitarist Adam Brockway handled most of the solos and banjo player Luke Anderson filling a key role in many of the band’s extended runs. Closing the set with “The Ballad of Eastbound Jesus”, the crowd started to clap their hands to the beat, leaving the band and crowd mutually happy. Eastbound Jesus played their songs tight and had the crowd in the palm of their hand in an opportunity to showcase their sound to a wide audience.
There are umpteen jam bands in the music scene today, mostly sounding very similar and almost having no identity. moe. is not one of these bands. With a unique sound spanning many musical horizons from psychedelic to hard rock, moe. covers it all. The set opener, “Paper Dragon”, had these aspects. Starting out slow with the emphasis on Jim Loughlin’s percussion playing, he was busy on his many instruments to keep the rhythm going. This was not the case for long as the song sped up and guitarist Al Schnier began to shred, a recurring theme for the evening. The drums, led by Vinnie Amico and anchored by Loughlin transitioned into the forgettable “Y.O.Y”, just a lot of sound over more sounds, doing very little for the crowd. This would’ve become a problem if the band stayed on this course, however the mess known as “Y.O.Y” shifted into one of the nights highlights, “George”, which had the crowd going utterly nuts as they sang along to the line “It’s not my problem!”, followed with a tremendous jam led by Schnier . The first set was very much a set based around the guitar playing of Al, although the vocals of Rob Derhak and the guitar playing of Chuck Garvey were very apparent in helping them come together.
The second set opened with “Zed Naught Z”, rocking the fans right out of their seats, with nary an individual sitting down. Loughlin had a tremendous xylophone solo that sounded like a carousel ride, transitioning into a spacey Grateful Dead-style jam, almost losing the crowd. “Timmy Tucker” hooked the crowd back in, and quickly. The jam that ensued showed patience and timing, particularly as Amico’s drums and Loughlin’s percussion complimented Derhak’s bass and vocals and the rhythm became tight. Garvey and Schnier were able to duel guitars, creating a unifying sound between them, jamming another fan favorite, “Akimbo”. A straight forward song, “Akimbo” was fun but nothing special, and segued right back into Timmy Tucker”, with fury from the wailing guitars. This five song palindrome of the set was finished with “Zed Naught Z”, seeing everything come full circle. The patience to get from point A and go all over the place and ending at point A is a talent very few bands possess. “Opium” segued into another favored moe. classic, “32 Things”. The crowd sang along, everyone cheering for more moe. when it was finished.
The band came back out and played a cover of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla”, a heavy number which did just as an encore should do: left the crowd wanting more. They would get more later that night, as it was already New Years Eve. As the doors opened and fans dispersed onto Pearl Street, the cheers and claps were proof to patrons on the street that a very good time was had at the Palace.
EastBound Jesus setlist
Set: Waitin on the sun, Beat The Brakes, Where The Winter Goes, Katie Belle, Doors Open, 54 Miles, Ballad Of Eastbound Jesus
Set 1: Paper Dragon > Y.O.Y. > George > Skrunk, Blue Jeans Pizza, Puebla > The Pit
Set 2: Zed Naught Z > Timmy Tucker > Akimbo > Timmy Tucker > Zed Naught Z, Opium, 32 Things
Stay tuned for a review of moe.’s New Years Eve show on Wednesday, January 8th.