You know it’s a good one when Rob’s smile is that big.
moe. bassist Rob Derhak was grinning ear to ear as the sun set in a blaze of glory over the crowd gathered for Saturday night’s show at Burlington’s Waterfront Park, part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival.
On Friday night, moe. kicked off the weekend with a show at Higher Ground in South Burlington, late enough that fans also attending the Twiddle concert at the Waterfront could make it in time to see some of moe. (The band’s switched locations and times for their Saturday night gigs.) The box office said moe.’s Higher Ground show was sold out, but it never got too packed for fans inside the concert hall Friday night.
The show started off with “Same Old Story,” the highlight of the band’s latest album, No Guts No Glory, released last year. The song is always high energy and fun, but it’s easier to get into later in a set. “Waiting for the Punchline” followed it up, getting the crowd dancing like a good ol’ fashioned hoe.down, as usual. The rest of the set was relatively standard but enjoyable.
The second set got more exciting. It opened with “Rainshine” (which always sounds like “Haze” at the beginning, getting at least one member of the crowd falsely psyched up). It was only the third time this year the song, from moe.’s 2012 album What Happened to the La Las, made it into a setlist, and it ended up being a fun one with a nice heavy jam section.
Then Mihali Savoulidis, Twiddle’s frontman, joined moe. to play “The Road,” giving it more spunk than usual. After a good “Wind It Up,” the band played the first few chords of “meat” before guitar player Al Schnier stopped it and tried to get the whole band to join him in a rendition of the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.” It didn’t last long — Al’s guitar cohort Chuck Garvey gave up playing and started laughing almost immediately, and Rob seemed to play every note on his bass in hopes some would work. Al gave up and the band proceeded with meat, jamming it through all its funky glory. It transitioned into first a stellar “Billy Goat,” which always gets the crowd singing along to its good-life-advice-y chorus, then “Head,” before finishing up the “meat” sandwich with more rumbling bass and shredding.
The show ended with a quick encore of “Lazarus,” which at this point is somewhere between the old “Lazarus” and the newer “The Bones of Lazarus.” Fans seem to agree that its better than “Bones” but doesn’t yet reach the heights of the storied “Lazarus”es of bygone days.
After a late night, moe.rons had to transition to an early show by moe. standards on Saturday night at the Waterfront. Part of the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival, the show featured a ring of vendors off chuck.side of the stage. Bluegrass jammers Cabinet opened the show with a lot of energy, then passed the stage off to moe.
The band started on a high note with a “Buster” that transitioned into “Spine of a Dog,” two songs that fit well together with the same sort of calypso feel to them.
After finishing up “Spine,” Al made the crowd turn around to view the amazing sunset, burning across the sky with bright pinks, oranges and yellows. “We’ll give you a second,” he said. “Look at this. This is fantastic.”
Rob joked that they just wanted to see everyone’s asses.
Then they played the lighter “Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes” before they got down and dirty with Rob slapping the shit out of his bass on “Not Coming Down.” That transitioned into “Wormwood” > “Deep This Time” > “Downward Facing Dog” to finish out the set with a whole lot of head bobbing and dancing.
Set two opened with moe.’s funnest song, “Seat of My Pants,” which was bouncy and fun with all the springy octave jumps and just enough down and dirty rocking. There may have been a brief tease to the theme song for Sesame Street. It almost sounded like it was going to go into “Rebubula,” but instead it continued into “Dr. Graffenberg.” Sometime in there, a crew of audience members dressed as sea life paraded through the crowd and made their way to the front, dancing there briefly before ebbing back to the sea (one can only assume). Besides that, Graffenberg was as whimsical and rockin’ as ever.
Band members then took the set down a notch with the slow but beautiful “Where Does the Time Go?” Some consider this a bathroom song while others enjoy it wholeheartedly, getting lost in the nostalgic melody and skillfully written lyrics.
Then “Tubing the River Styx” segued into a smokin’ “The Pit” that transitioned into a lighter tone with “Kyle’s Song.” Then “Gone” segued into “Do or Die” with a pensive jam that featured the lights going down and the band playing in silhouette against the backdrop.
During al.nouncements, Al read a note that wished someone named Erica a happy birthday and said, “PS- San Ber’dino.” And almost immediately other band members started playing parts of the Frank Zappa tune, and they went right into it when Al’s announcements wrapped up. Then they wrapped up the show with “Happy Hour Hero,” a great song that has a laid-back melody, sending the crowd off to some Twiddle or just one more bottle.
It’s always a treat when moe. plays Burlington, and this weekend run was one for the books!
Friday, Aug. 7 at Higher Ground
Same Old Story
Waiting for the Punchline
Wind It Up
Saturday, Aug. 8 at the Burlington Waterfront
Spine of a Dog
Blond Hair and Blue Eyes
Not Coming Down>
Deep This Time>
Downward Facing Dog
Seat of My Pants>
Where Does the Time Go?
Tubing the River Styx>
Do or Die
E: San Ber’dino
Happy Hour Hero
*Joined by Mihali Savoulidis of Twiddle on guitar.
**Al stopped after the song started and tried to get the band to play the Grateful Dead’s “Eyes of the World.” It didn’t work.