moe. threw an amazing party Jan. 11-14 in Jamaica. This year’s Throe.down was combined with Little Feat’s annual destination festival called Feat Camp, and it was held at Jewel Paradise Cove in Runaway Bay, Jamaica.
Now that we’ve had a little time to ruminate on the amazing experience (yeah, yeah, we know, it’s been a long time), here are our top 10 favorite things about moe.’s Tropical Throe.down 2016.
1. Rob playing an entire song laying down
It was pretty epic. During the final moe. show of the festival, bassist Rob Derhak sat down in a chair for a few moments earlier in the show, but later on, someone switched the upright chair out with a lounge chair. Rob took the bait and sat down, laying back and kicking his feet up in front of him as he picked away at the laid-back new tune “Montego,” an instrumental debuted at the band’s New Year’s run in Albany.
Toward the end of the song, guitarist Al Schnier grabbed an inflatable whale that had been making its way around the resort pools for the last few days and the stage that night. He threw it on the ground near Rob and sat down straddling it as the two jammed with Rob slapping the shit out of a nasty bass solo.
The song transitioned into “Billy Goat,” a song that Rob sings, meaning he had to stand up. It was pretty entertaining to watch him try to haul himself out of the chair while playing the lead-in to the song without stopping. After some bad attempts with his legs flailing awkwardly, he finally took a second from playing so he could get up. Then he launched into a badass “Billy Goat” to end the set.
2. Sweet Billy Payne sit-ins
Little Feat’s keyboard player Bill Payne sat in with moe. on a handful of songs throughout the festival: “Sensory Deprivation Bank”>”Happy Hour Hero” on the second night and the Jimmy Cliff classic “The Harder They Come” and “Bring You Down” on the final night. moe. has had plenty of keyboard players sit in over the years, but Payne may be one of the best — he meshes well with the band’s sound while filling it out in strategic places. And the guys definitely seem to have fun playing with him.
It’s not the first time that Payne has sat in with moe. He joined the guys for their Halloween 2014 show in Las Vegas. The show was “The Big Lebowski”-themed, and Payne dressed as the Stranger, the movie’s narrator.
3. 85 and sun
We all know it hasn’t been the coldest winter in the Northeast, but it was still a huge relief to be in a place where it’s 85 degrees and sunny nonstop. And the resort where Throe.down was held, the Jewel Paradise Cove Beach Resort & Spa, was great — three swim-up bars, great food, the hot tubs were hot and the pools were refreshing, and you were never far from anything. Plus the service was usually super helpful, you could go on a free glass-bottom boat tour or snorkeling expedition or try their kayaks or other boats, and there was even a super-fast waterslide in the middle of the resort.
And Jamaica is an amazing place. Many of the people there seem to be friendly and positive people. We had several people tell us, “In Jamaica, there are no problems, only situations,” and we heard the refrain “No problem” each time we asked for anything.
4. “Ziggy Stardust” in honor of Bowie, “Donkey Show,” and other amazing music
Memorable musical moments at Throe.down were abundant. But the most poignant was probably when the band played “Ziggy Stardust.” David Bowie had died the day before, but it wasn’t until Jan. 11 that the news started to spread, and that night, moe. payed tribute to the rock icon with one of his most well-known songs. It was the third time moe. played it — they debuted it in 1999, and they brought it back out again for their Star Wars-themed Halloween 2015 show.
The least poignant moment — but still a super entertaining one — was when the band finished out Throe.down with “Tijuana Donkey Show,” the first time they had played it since 2007. Originally a song from side project Ha Ha the Moose, moe. played “Donkey Show” a handful of times between 2004 and ’07 before giving it up. Until the crowd insisted that it be the Throe.down 2016 encore. Percussionist Jim Loughlin, who drums for Ha Ha the Moose as “Sludge,” took over the drums while drummer Vinny Amico covered percussion.
The band also broke out “Defrost” again, which they played on New Year’s Eve for the first time in eight years. It was in heavy rotation in the mid ‘90s, but the band stopped playing it for an 11-year gap, pulling it out once in 2008, then again New Year’s Eve.
Other notable moments:
– moe. occasionally played a great version of Little Feat’s “Spanish Moon,” but with Little Feat co-hosting the festival with moe., they decided not to play what has become a popular cover among fans. But that didn’t stop moe. from teasing it a bit. During their Jan. 11 show, moe. played an extended jam featuring melodies from “Spanish Moon” in the middle of their “Cissy Strut” encore, getting close but never quite getting into the full song.
– They also teased ZZ Top’s “Waitin’ For the Bus” during the second set opener, “Puebla,” on Jan. 11.
– It was their frst time playing “Cantina Band” from Star Wars in a show that wasn’t billed a being “Star Wars” themed (third time overall).
5. If you like pina coladas…
And besides the regular shows, the daytime acoustic set was a whole other mess of fun. The guys played the set at Jimmy Buffet’s Margaritaville in Ocho Rios, but before the show, most of the band members joined fans on a catamaran ride and lunch with a company called Cool Runnings. The boat launched from Mahogany Beach in Ocho Rios and everyone was given a chance to snorkel, then there was a lot of rum punch, loud music and dancing. Some of the band members may have learned how to twerk.
Then, after lovely outdoor buffet lunch, everyone was bussed to Margaritaville, where moe. played a super fun acoustic set in the sun. They played some great covers including “Escape” — the “if you like pina coladas” song — the Violent Femmes’ “Blister in the Sun,” “Cajun Moon” by J.J. Cale, and the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be the Place (Naive Melody),” first played this New Year’s Eve. The song had the staff swaying to the tune by the end.
The set also included “Blue Eyed Son,” “That Country Tune” and “Johnny Lineup,” along with a few other tunes the band plays more regularly.
There’s something amazing about sitting on a deck, sipping margaritas and basking in the sun while listening to one of your favorite bands play a few dozen feet away. Even if the sound wasn’t perfect, it was still super entertaining. Jimmy Buffet would be proud.
6. Medeski Martin & Wood
The instrumental trio was billed as a special guest, and special they were. They refer to their music as an “amalgam of jazz, funk, ‘avant-noise’ and a million other musical currents and impulses,” and that pretty accurately described what it was like to see them play three days. The band swings from one influence to the next in a way that’s very fun and engaging, if sometime a little hard to follow. Their cover game was on point (or on fleek? Is that how you use that term?), ranging from Duke Ellington to David Bowie. MMW’s “avant-noise” bit seemed too much for a few of the fans to take, but for the most part, the crowd bobbed their heads and danced along as the creative trio brought them on an enjoyable musical journey.
And fans who stayed on for an extra day at the end of the festival were lucky enough to see both John Scofield and Warren Haynes sit in with MMW for a few songs. Both musicians were arriving for Government Mule’s Island Exodus 7, which began at the same resort the following day.
And with a band full of guys who are so cool and down to earth, that’s awesome. You’ll have plenty of opportunity to ask them all the moe. questions that have been keeping you up at night, like why did they stop playing “Disembodied Head,” or what on earth is going on with “Lazarus” these days, or what’s up with moe.down? But you might just find yourself cutting them a break and shooting the shit about the weather when you run into them, cuz hey, they’re on vacation too.
10. The drum stick trick
Watch this, paying special attention to Jim right around 1:01:45.
Jim and Vin are freakin’ ninjas. Apparently they’ve done this before. It’s amazing.