moe. continued its 25th anniversary celebration with two shows at its hometown Saranac Brewery Friday and Saturday night. Old friends and new were on hand, as well as a brand new Saranac Double IPA named in their honor.
Friday’s big surprise was the return of original moe. drummer Ray Shwartz. Shwartz left the band following the band’s Fatboy album in 1992. Current drummer Vinnie Amico graciously stepped aside while Shwartz sat in for the moe. classic “Don’t Fuck With Flo.”
The weekend had a mini-festival vibe about it, with Twiddle opening Friday night and Cabinet and Kung Fu joining in Saturday. Additionally, Shnier and Amico’s side project Floodwood took to the Celtic Harp stage following Friday’s show, and the legendary Ha Ha the Moose did the same Saturday night. Ryan Montbelau was another post-show option for fans at Lukin’s just up Varick Street.
moe. spent little time getting to the down and dirty on Friday, opening with “Tailspin” into “Bearsong” followed by the introduction of their new beer and the tried and true Saranac theme song “Happy Hour Hero” (for the record, as an avowed beer snob, your author made sure to grab a growler of the Hoppy Hour Hero from the Tavern. This is one of Saranac’s best outings, in this reviewer’s humble opinion).
Friday night’s setlist per moe.’s Facebook:
Set I: Tailspin > Bearsong, Hoppy Hour Hero, Mar-DeMa > Y.O.Y. > George > Lazarus
Set II: Don’t Fuck With Flo*, Tubing The River Styx > The Pit > meat., White Lightning Turpentine, Blue Jeans Pizza > Downward Facing Dog
Enc: Billy Goat, Low (Cracker cover)
Notes: * with original drummer Ray Schwartz
Saturday saw Cabinet kicking things off with its blend of bluegrass and jam. Truly appreciative of the Utica love, they made an appearance in the merchandise tent following their solid set.
Kung Fu followed and proved to be a formidable act to follow. They brought the funk promptly at 6:30 and proceeded to move many a booty in the Saranac crowd. If you haven’t had a chance to check out this fusion quintet, it is highly recommended. They blend Hancock’s Headhunter-era fusion with James Brown funk and some Zappa thrown in for good measure.
moe. hit the stage Saturday with a rousing “Captain America” to engage the huge Saranac crowd. Over several years of shows at this venue, this one ranked among the highest attended.
An easy ride through “Akimbo” was followed by “Not Coming Down” which seemed to mock the few sprinkles that started falling from the sky midway through.
By far, the highlight of the night was the guest appearance of Tim Palmeiri and Rob Somerville of Kung Fu during “Silver Sun.” The addition of the sax invigorated this newer song and Palmieri’s guitar battles with Garvey and Schnier were the stuff of moe. legend. Check out this YouTube clip for just a scant view of what was truly something to behold in person:
Following a quick set break, moe. returned with “Okayalright” which segued seamlessly into “32 Things.” The boys were on their game here. Aside from the Kung Fu sit-in, this segue ranked as one of the high points of the show.
If there were any doubt that twenty-five years in, these guys are tired of the game, this was quickly laid to rest with an epic “Recreational Chemistry” encore to finish the run. Derhak was at his best during this twenty-seven minute version of their classic and while some fans bemoaned the fact that this one has been frequently played on this mini-tour, it’s tough to argue with the intensity of the version played Saturday night.
Twenty-five years in and moe. is still playing with the energy and fervor they did back in their club days. A weekend such as this was a celebration of moe. A celebration of all that they have given their fans all these years. A celebration of their roots. It was evident that they had a grand old time in their old stomping grounds this weekend. What would you do for freedom?
Saturday’s setlist courtesy of moe.’s Facebook:
Set One: Captain America > Akimbo, Not Coming Down > Wormwood > Skrunk, Loser >(nh) Silver Sun*
Set Two: Okayalright > 32 Things, Nebraska, Time Ed, Wind It Up
Encore: Do Or Die, Recreational Chemistry
* – w/ Tim Palmieri on guitar & Robert Somerville on sax from Kung Fu