photos by Sarah Bourque
On February 16 and 17, moe. returned to bassist Rob Derhak’s hometown of Portland, Maine for a blistering double-header. After selling out the Capitol Theatre in Port Chester two weeks prior, moe. fans were treated to two nights of music at the gorgeous State Theatre, with fan favorites, reworked songs, well-executed covers and some deep, exploratory jams.
moe. opened with the aptly-chosen “Bring it Back Home,” which transitioned smoothly into the intense drum intro to “Water,” featuring teases of both “meat.” and “The Pit.” Both drummer Vinnie Amico and percussionist Jim Loughlin were seemingly possessed by some ferocious energy during both shows, adding all kinds of fills and teases to familiar songs, while inventing new patterns and improvisations. After “Water,” the band immediately dropped into “Bullet,” with guitarist Chuck Garvey belting out the lyrics, before the premier of his new song “Who You Calling Scared?” They then invited a friend of the band’s, Bill Waldron to the stage to play pedal-steel on a highly-charged rendition of the Rolling Stones’ “Dead Flowers.” Waldron had recently lent the use of his practice space for moe. to prepare for the Capitol Theatre run. The latin-inspired instrumental “Mar De-Ma” followed, with the newly reworked “Lazarus” in tow. They then closed the first set with a soaring version of “The Road” before taking a short break.
Set 2 began with a one-two punch: “Big World,” which dropped into the funky and danceable “Ricky Marten.” The two are often paired, but following them with “Time Ed” was a rare treat for the moe. fans in attendance. “Time Ed” slowly and patiently built towards its intense climax, and then no huddled into “Puebla.” They followed this with one of the best versions of “Four” ever played, featuring an extended bass jam in the middle that featured strong teases of “In a Gadda da Vida” and a much subtler, blink and you’ll miss it “I Heard it Through the Grapevine” tease. “Four” clocked in at a staggering 30 minutes long and featured an incredible, progressive segueway into the punky intro to “head,” which served as the set closer. After a short encore break, the boys returned to the stage for their rendition of Blue Oyster Cult’s “Godzilla,” which featured an exploratory jam and some vocal shenanigans from Rob. Hardcore moe.rons would recognize the references to the raunchy moe. rarity “Tijuana Donkey Show” that were inserted into the “Godzilla” vocal jam. Listen to the show here.
Saturday night, an even bigger crowd made its way to the State for the second performance, which somehow managed to top the already phenomenal first night. They took the stage, and Rob wasted no time dropping into the bassline of “Billy Goat,” a song he penned for his late father. After a well-performed “Billy Goat,” they transitioned into Jim’s new song “Don’t Wanna Be,” that might be on the next album and features his gruff vocals and dark, pensive lyrics. The transition featured heavy “Tailspin” teases and was followed with the technical “Crab Eyes” and then “ATL,” which debuted in 2012 at Summer Camp, only to be shelved for several years before finally being resuscitated last year. “ATL” was followed by the first repeat of the tour, Rob’s new song “LL3,” which describes his harrowing victory against cancer. They transitioned into “Bearsong,” which went into a long, spacey, ambient jam reminiscent of 2001-era moe. Jim led them into “Tubing the River Styx,” the intro to the Satanic “The Pit,” and then back into “Bearsong,” to complete the sandwich. It is most certainly worthy to note that Rob was in a bear costume for the second half of “Bearsong.”
Set 2 began with Rob’s relatively new jam vehicle, “Prestige Worldwide,” which debuted at the holiday show in 2016, followed by the erratic and playful fan favorite, “Seat of my Pants,” and the hyperactive “Sensory Deprivation Bank.” This was followed by the second repeat of the tour, Chuck’s immaculately composed “New Hope for the New Year,” an intricate tune with tons of potential for future improvisation. This and “LL3” were both played for the first time in Port Chester, at their first performances since the end of their hiatus. After, they dove into an uplifting “Bring You Down,” which featured one of the most patient, smooth, and entrancing segueways of the weekend, into “Kyle’s Song,” which flowed into its sister song “Kids” to close the second set. moe. then encored with the sing-a-long “Spine of a Dog” before bidding the crowd farewell. Both nights featured heavy improv from the rhythm section and alterations on classics, as well as deep psychedelic jams and segues that left the crowd guessing. moe. is back, and they are hungry. Listen to night 2 here.
Friday, Feb. 16
Set 1: Bring it Back Home > Water (nh)> Bullet, Who You Calling Scared? (FTP), Dead Flowers, Mar De-Ma (nh)> Lazazarus, The Road
Set 2: Big World > Ricky Marten > Time Ed (nh)> Puebla, Four > head.
Saturday, Feb. 17
Set 1: Billy Goat > Don’t Wanna Be, Crab Eyes, ATL, LL3 > Bearsong > Tubing the River Styx > The Pit > Bearsong
Set 2: Prestige Worldwide > Seat of my Pants > Sensory Deprivation Bank, New Hope for the New Year, Bring You Down > Kyle’s Song > Kids
Encore: Spine of a Dog