85 degrees and sunny for four days straight, minus a few quick rainstorms. All the jerk pork and frozen cocktails you can stomach. Reading on the beach, swimming in the ocean, playing in the sand. How could it possibly get better? Throe. in a whole lot of Upstate’s finest jam band, moe.
moe.’s Tropical Throe.down festival, held Friday through Monday, Jan. 9-13 at the Grand Lido Resort in Negril, Jamaica, was an amazing experience for anyone who ventured there.
Each day in paradise was capped off with a full-length moe. show featuring the boys: guitarists Chuck Garvey and Al Schnier, bassist Rob Derhak, drummer Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin, who plays various key, percussion and stringed instruments. The stage was set up on the beach next to the main lodge area, with the chuck.side of the stage only a few yards from the ocean. There was plenty of space in front of the stage to get down, since only about 400 or so people were at each show, and plenty of people danced from the water as well. The resort set up three drink stations surrounding the audience area, so you never had to wait long to refresh your drink. Terry Lynch, Shannon Lynch and Shaun Bazylewicz, collectively known as the Conehead Buddha horns, joined the band intermittently throughout each show, hopping on and off stage as necessary.
Each night’s show was amazing, and the audience could tell the band members were having just as much fun in Jamaica as they were. Band members took their time in between songs, tuning up and bantering with the audience even more than usual.
The first night started off strong with “Seat of My Pants” into “Sensory Deprivation Bank” into “Annihilation Blues” but the first set was easily topped with a four-song second set: “Recreational Chemistry> Yodelittle> Jazz Wank> Buster”.
Saturday night started with a fun “Billy Goat” to “Tailspin” segue, and “Brittle End,” “Plane Crash,” and the entire second set — “Spanish Moon > Puebla > Brent Black > Mar-DeMa > Brent Black, The Road” with nice stretched out drum and bass solos between “Mar-DeMa” and “Brent Black” — was high energy and super danceable.
Sunday’s highlights included “Dr. Graffenberg” ending the first set, and “Time Ed>George” then “Downward Facing Dog” to end the second, and “Same Old Story” encored, including the horns, which really round out the already-rocking song.
On the final day, Warren Haynes joined moe. for a few songs — “Wormwood” into “St. Augustine” — during their second set. Haynes was about to host a Gov’t Mule festival billed Island Exodus 6 at the Grand Lido, which started two days after moe.’s Throe.down wrapped up, and he dropped by a little early to say hello. The show also featured some sweet “McBain” sandwiching and “Meat” in the first and second sets.
The Monday show was supposed to end with “Moth” to round out the encore, but instead “Rebubula” was the final Thoe.down song, reportedly because a group of women dressed as mermaids hoped to hear it.
In addition to the regular night concerts, the band played a Sunday afternoon acoustic set. It was originally billed as a private acoustic show on a catamaran for the first 100 people who booked their trips, but there were issues with the booking process. In the end, Island Gigs, the company that produced the festival, made arrangements for anyone who wanted to that didn’t get on the boat to pay an extra $20 for a van ride to the acoustic show.
It was held at Rick’s Cafe, a popular tourist spot with 35-foot-high cliffs from which patrons jump into the ocean. The boys set up on a stage overlooking the ocean, and they played a highly memorable acoustic set. After playing a fun “Not Coming Down >Wormwood >Okayalright” sequence, Rob asked the audience if they wanted the band to play songs they are good at, or if they should just pull tunes out of their asses. The moe.rons, being the sarcastic group of assholes that they are, requested the latter. So each band member chose a song. Al started with “Johnny Lineup,” not part of the typical rotation, “That Country Tune” was Rob’s pick, Chuck went with “Willin’” by Little Feat, then Jim came forward for his “Farmer Ben” vocals. That song included parts of “I Am the Very Model of a Modern Major-General” from Gilbert and Sullivan’s “Pirates of Penzance” musical, “Don’t Cry for Me Argentina from Andrew Lloyd Weber’s “Evita” musical, a chant of “Ain’t no party like a Throe.down party cuz a Throe.down party don’t stop,” and “Powerhouse” by Raymond Scott, a song frequently used in cartoons. As if all that wasn’t fun enough, Vinnie came forward for the next song to sing “One Way Out” by the Allman Brothers, beloved guitar tech Frank Robbins nabbed Al’s guitar, Al switched to bass, so Rob was left to tap away on a tambourine.
Next, when everyone was back in place, Al sang a Peter Tosh song called “Ketchy Shuby” that he said he used to listen to when he was high as a teenager in his bedroom, watching the tropical fish in his fish tank swim around. “It all comes full circle,” he said. It was the first time moe. covered the tune. To cap it all off, they played an unexpected-but-surprisingly-good “Godzilla” by Blue Oyster Cult, which quite possibly will never happen again.
The band played four raging shows, plus the acoustic set, but that wasn’t all. The festival also included opening sets Sunday and Monday from moe. guitar player Al Schnier and drummer Vinnie Amico’s bluegrass side project, Floodwood, that also includes Jason Barady, Nick Piccininni and Zachary Fleitz. The three non-moe. members of Floodwood also played laid-back a set at the beach bar Monday afternoon for those attendees who didn’t go on a day-trip to hike around and swim under a tropical waterfall.
Not only that, but Ha Ha the Moose made a rare appearance with an opening set Saturday night. The Moose, the gigglemetal side project of Chuck, Rob and Jim’s, consists of their alter egos Jeff VonKickass, Dr. Guano and Sludge clad in luchador masks and capes and trying to be as offensive and ridiculous as they possibly can.
They yelled at the audience “Silence!” Dr. Guano shouted during the dim applause after their first song, played and sang sloppily, and forgot words to basically an entire song: the long-awaited “Tijuana Donkey Show” that has been played by both Ha Ha and moe. over the years. There was plenty of sweet shredding during songs like “Ha Ha the Moose Theme” and “Devil Toad” – once it gets licked, it can’t get unlicked. They treated the crowd to a raunchy new tune called “Courtesy Flush” that took the audience exactly where your mind goes when you hear the title. The set ended with ““In the Name of Freedom” in which Dr. Guano asked audience members what they would do in the name of freedom. As usual, it drew wildly inappropriate suggestions including one about Rob’s wife that ended the set with Dr. Guano giving an uncomfortable chuckle and a suggestion of a threesome.
The band was on vacation too, sort of, so they were seen around the resort whenever they were free, relaxing on the beach and hanging out after the shows, but they also made scheduled appearances throughout the weekend besides the shows. They golfed and went scuba diving with attendees, they snorkeled with guests who made the catamaran rides, and they held a meet-and-greet poster signing session Saturday afternoon.
Each attendee received a poster, T-shirt, pin and draw-string backpack with the Throe.down logo on them as part of the all-inclusive package. For around $2,000 each depending on the type of accommodations, it also included a room for each night, food and drinks, bus rides from and to the airport in Montego Bay (about an hour and 45 minute away), and the use of some boats.
Rumors are already starting to float around about the next Throe.down, especially now that moe.down is canceled for the year, so start saving your pennies! You won’t regret it!