moe. kicked off the end of its 25th anniversary year with a New Year’s run at the Palace Theatre in Albany. The New Year’s Eve show proved memorable in many ways, with several old songs making a return; the debut of a brand new Al Schnier-penned instrumental and an acoustic take on Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody).”
The band has been celebrating its 25th anniversary throughout 2015 and sound as cohesive as they ever have. A relationship this long, no matter what the scenario, is difficult to maintain at any level, yet it seems as if moe. has found new life in this trip around the sun. Onstage smiles were continuous during this run; it’s obvious that this is a band still having fun playing together.
The crowd arrived at the picturesque Palace Theatre for the New Year’s Eve fete dressed the part. Many came in formal attire, while others simply donned the traditional New Year’s headgear and gaudy glasses—all were geared up for a solid performance.
The energy remained high throughout the first set both onstage and off as moe. dusted off a few more oldies in the form of “Canned Pastries” and “Po’ Sadie” (last played Dec. 30, 1998) with each drawing knowing glances among long-time fans and cheers from the newer ones.
Though there are distinct differences in Schnier’s and Chuck Garvey’s guitar styles, there is not a more complementary duo in the game today. Evidence of this shone during the instrumental “Pastries.” While Derhak, percussionist Jim Loughlin and drummer Vinnie Amico laid down a smooth funky beat, Schnier and Garvey traded licks back and forth on opposite sides of the stage surely causing slight whiplash among some onlookers.
The lounge jazz intro to “Don’t Fuck With Flo” segued perfectly out of a lengthy run-through of a jazzier than usual “Timmy Tucker,” creating a huge build-up to the sing-along chorus of who not to mess around with. Garvey made heavy use of his effects pedals, combining with the spectacular light show to create a true rock-star experience to cap off the first set.
Following a half-hour break, the band opened the second set with a tribute to the Saranac Brewery for the Hoppy Hour Hero brew many in the house were imbibing in on this night. Naturally, “Happy Hour Hero” followed. Garvey used his talkbox to wish everyone a “Happy New Year.” A long and sweet segue out of “HHH” into the reggae “Seat of My Pants” held the crowd’s attention until Schnier’s opening notes led the way into the moe. classic. The heavy break down part of “Seat” had Schnier in full-on rock god mode. Schnier threw in barre chords, finger tapping, the trademark facial expressions and an on-his-knees serenade to those in the front row.
The brand new and sweeping Schnier instrumental “Montego” was well-received and should prove to be a nice jam vehicle in shows to come. “Four” closed out the second set. Garvey was on fire during this one. Those riding the rail Chuck side were treated to a guitar clinic from the maestro as midnight loomed.
Set three began with what has now become a moe. NYE tradition—the playing of Pink Floyd’s “Time/Breathe” during the countdown to midnight. Once the confetti cannons blew their payload, Derhak broke into an a capella “Auld Lang Syne,” a song that, like most people, Derhak had issues remembering the lyrics to.
This led to the surprise of the night as Loughlin left the confines of his kit at the back of the stage to drop some mad rhymes to House of Pain’s “Jump Around.” The stage soon filled with band and crew family members jumping around as Loughlin had instructed.
moe. continued the set into the wee hours of 2016, dropping in a newer fan favorite “Billy Goat” followed by an intense “Meat” that proved to be unfinished. Garvey again displayed why he’s one of the premier guitarists in the genre throughout the spacey, funky, jam; at times using his microphone stand as a slide for his guitar.
A solid run-through of “Brent Black” featured a stellar jazz-informed solo from Amico and a roaring bass solo from Derhak. “Wind it Up” wrapped up the set, leaving the exhausted audience breathing a sigh of relief.
As the band members took a brief break, microphone stands were brought to the front of the stage for the encore. Schnier played his acoustic, while Garvey plucked on his electric. Amico played the tambourine and Loughlin the maraca, as Derhak, with the assistance of a lyric sheet, sang the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)” with help from the crowd on such lyrics as “Home is where I want to be.” As moe.’s adopted hometown, the collaboration was a fitting end to the show capping off the band’s silver anniversary year.
Set 1: Defrost> Akimbo, Y.O.Y., Canned Pastries, Po’ Sadie, Timmy Tucker> Don’t Fuck With Flo
Set 2: Happy Hour Hero> Seat Of My Pants, Montego, Four
Set 3: Time> Breathe> Countdown/Happy New Year> Auld Lang Syne, Jump Around*> Auld Lang Syne, Billy Goat> Meat#> Brent Black, Wind it up
Encore: This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody)
*Jim on vocals