moe. Fills Second Night of Saranac Run With Heavy Hitters

After a warm, beer-scented night one at the Saranac Matt Brewery, moe. prepared to warm up the crowd on a rather chilly night two in Utica. It was bassist Rob Derhak’s turn to write the setlist, and he had some surprises in store for the eagerly awaiting moe.rons.
To start off the first set, the group dropped into their classic “Spine of a Dog,” singing the opening acapella lyrics for a few lines before letting the audience take over. Following a standard composed section, the group jammed on the song’s chord structure for the entirety of the jam, leading it into an up tempo peak before dropping into “Plane Crash,” sans Al Schnier’s usual tremolo-laden intro. Arguably Derhak’s most well-known song, “Plane Crash” had the whole audience singing along with its catchy chorus. The jam again stayed within the structure of the song itself, but led to its usual Schnier-led peak before ending with one last chorus. After a little bit of banter about how playing at Saranac in Utica feels like home to Derhak, the group played the short but sweet Chuck Garvey-penned “Who You Callin’ Scared?.” “Lazarus” followed soon after, a somber sounding tune seemingly referencing the biblical figure Lazarus, the man who Jesus supposedly rose from the dead 4 days after his death. Garvey took many jaw-dropping solos throughout the song’s many music interludes, leading the group through the jam section and into the final choruses before ending the song.

To close out the set, the group whipped out the segment of “SIlver Sun > Puebla > Moth,” beginning with the Pink Floyd-esque Schnier tune “Silver Sun” to keep the slower vibe of “Lazarus” going. The intro was jammed out for a good eight and a half minutes before Schnier and Garvey broke into the song’s mysterious lyrics. Following the lyrical portion, the song was brought into a dark ambient jam led by Garvey, and driven by the strong rhythm section of Jim Loughlin on percussion, Vinnie Amico on drums, and Derhak on bass. As the jam picked up, Schnier and Garvey dropped into the song’s beautiful guitar harmonies before bringing the tune into “Puebla,” retaining the somber vibe of “Lazarus” and “Silver Sun.” “Puebla” wasted no time getting into the jam, kicking it off a mere two and a half minutes into the song, and jamming on the song’s main structure for more than six minutes before bringing the tune into uncharted territory. The group experimented a bit before ultimately bringing the song up into “Moth,” another Schnier led number that brought the mood up after the somber previous few songs. After working through a few verses and choruses, the group let Derhak take the spotlight for his first big bass solo of the night. The rest of the band decided to back up a motif Derhak was creating in his bass solo, and added textures around it to bring the musical idea to life. After about five minutes, the group brought the jam back into “Moth” territory and Schnier led the band to the best peak of the set with a fiery solo, singing out one last chorus before exiting the stage.

After a toast to Nick Matt, the CEO of Saranac Matt Brewing Company, moe. came onstage and dropped into “New Hope For The New Year,” Garvey’s contribution to the new songs performed at the band’s return to the stage at the Capitol Theatre this past February. It seems to be Garvey’s way of putting everything into perspective and appreciating life after Derhak’s cancer scare, a very optimistic message for a somewhat downbeat song. The jam didn’t get too crazy, mainly switching between the typical A/B sections and allowing Garvey an area to stretch his legs solo-wise. After the hook, the group performed the main melody one last time before transitioning into “Kyle’s Song” through a “no huddle” segue. “Kyle’s Song” is a fan favorite across the board, coming from the band’s most loved album, Wormwood, a studio masterpiece released in 2003. The “Kyle’s” jam kicked off like it always does, with a killer solo from Garvey himself that usually makes up a good portion of the song. After a near six minute solo, the group dropped back into the chorus, before suddenly dropping into an unusual jam on the song’s main melody, but at half time. Loughlin saw this as an opportunity for a Marimba solo, and took a quick one before the band started to pick up the pace and bring the song into the legendary “Bearsong,” one of the heaviest songs in moe.’s catalog. Big inflatable Saranac branded bears were released into the audience as the intro of the song played out, and Schnier drove the group into the main section of the song. The jam stayed in the song structure and acted more as a solo base for the dueling duo as Derhak slapped away at his bass. The audience raged in full force with the group as Schnier brought it into one last chorus and the ending riffs of the song.

As a break between the heavy jamming, Schnier led the group in his tune “What Can I Say,” a ballad with heartfelt lyrics backed by soulful blues music. The only way the band could follow that up was of course, “Rebubula > Yodelittle > Rebubula,” the jam segment of the night. Garvey kicked off “Rebubula” with an extended Leslie filled intro, before the rest of the band joined in and started to tease what song was about to start. After nearly seven minutes of open ended improv, the guitar duo broke into the opening notes of the song, and Derhak quickly fell in line behind them with Amico and Loughlin backing the groove up. The song is centered around Derhak, slapping and singing his heart out during the main verses of the song, and this time he was driving the bus a bit faster than usual. The group went through the typical composed riffs before Loughlin melted “Rebubula” into “Yodelittle,” with the help of Schnier and Garvey. Schnier assumed his role as the leader for the song, dropping into the song’s catchy chorus with Garvey harmonizing his vocals as usual. “Yodelittle” featured the longest jam of the night, clocking in at 23 minutes, and went the most out there of any song the group played over the weekend. Derhak took another of his famed fuzzy bass solos while the rest of the group layered textures behind him, before Loughlin took the reigns from him for a quick vibes solo. Schnier and Garvey dropped back into the opening riff of “Yodelittle” as they brought the song back into “Rebubula,” finishing out what they had started. Garvey took the helm and soloed his way into the peak of the jam before Derhak broke into the final verse of the song. The group repeated the chorus a few times before ending the song, leaving the stage for a quick encore break and Al.nouncements. The encore opened with “Don’t Wanna Be,” Loughlin’s first vocal effort of the night, which started the end of the show off on a dark note. He showed off his unique, yet spectacular voice as well as his vibraphone skills before the group took a quick break and dropped into “Okayalright.” A highly upbeat Derhak-penned tune about a time before moe. was even a band. The song didn’t contain any jamming, the group seemingly wanting to spread the positivity of the chorus of the song. After a quick thank you from Derhak, the group left the stage for the final time of the weekend.

moe. performed two fantastic shows this past weekend in Utica, playing to their hometown crowd at a venue they love. The audience was spreading the love, and sharing in the incredible experience unfolding around them. Check below for a taste of the night through the photo gallery from Dave DeCrescente.