moe. Caps Off a Busy Year with Three Sets in Rochester

moe. returned to the stage early in 2018 after a short unplanned hiatus to end 2017 due to bassist Rob Derhak’s triumphant battle with cancer. But that didn’t slow the band down one bit. They hit the ground running and didn’t look back, touring heavily throughout the year. The long road wound its way to an end Tuesday night at the Kodak Center in Rochester for the second of two shows to ring in 2019.

The band eased into the long night with a short acoustic set. They bridged the gap between their previous show, which ended with an encore of Pink Floyd’s “Time” by serving up their own “Time Again” and then a debut of Tom Waits’ “Time” after squeezing in Little Feat’s “Willin'”.

With the wheels greased, the second set took no time to get revved up. A 33-minute opening run of “Billy Goat” > “Defrost” > “Sensory Deprivation Bank” > “Who You Calling Scared?” featured vibraphone-led jams, bluesy guitar duels, drum breakdowns, and bass bombs, highlighting every member of the band prominently in fairly quick succession.

With each ensuing section of the show, the band only picked up more steam. The second half of the set continued with “Spine of a Dog” which bubbled up into a bright cheery jam with guitarist Al Schnier taking the reins. Rainbow rays of light cycled the stage as the soloing ramped up with a Santana-esque fervor. Guitarist Chuck Garvey took over in “Buster” with peak upon peak guitar climbing. The set closed with dark and deep full band grooves that extended through “Pastorus” and “Silver Sun.” It all came to a head with bassist Rob Derhak and Schnier joining Garvey on the right side of the stage while percussionist Jim Loughlin banged out some sinister beats on the bass drum behind them.

The moe. classics “Seat of My Pants” and “Akimbo” opened the final set of the evening and had the guitarists in metal shredding mode. “Raise a Glass,” was the all too appropriate choice to turn the page on 2018. A party broke out on stage mid-song at midnight, band members and crew joining on stage to raise a glass and give hugs and high fives. Father Time walked across the stage in a green gown while endless explosions of confetti shot out into the crowd.

The fun was far from over, however, and Derhak’s daughter Emma was called onto the stage to lead the band on yet another appropriately-named tune, Steely Dan’s “Reeling in the Years,” which the band hadn’t played in over 9 years, when Emma was still toddling. But now she was the age where she was capable of leading the band through the rock classic with verve. She ran across the front of the stage high-fiving fans, grabbed her dad’s hat for herself, kicked confetti into the crowd, and did she ever nail the vocals!  Someone also ran across the stage in a dog suit to add a bit of playful randomness. As Emma left the stage she planted a kiss on dad’s cheek and departed with the hilariously age-inappropriate message, “Goodbye motherfuckers!,” sticking her tongue out for good measure.

moe. would leave the best for last, closing the night with a show-stopping “New Hope For the New Year” > “George” that traveled the spaceways for over 35 minutes. Guitar drones mixed with invigorating vibraphone rolls, evil grooves evolved into deep space funk. 2019 was here, and it was clear, this band is going to keep rocketing forward.

To hear everything that went down, check out the audio courtesy of archive.org here.

Setlist
I: Time Again, Willin, Time#, Macintyre Range##, Shoot First, New York City

II: Billy Goat > Defrost > Sensory Deprivation Bank > Who You Calling Scared?, Spine Of A Dog > Buster > Pastorus > Silver Sun

III: Seat Of My Pants > Akimbo, Raise A Glass*, Reeling In The Years^**, New Hope For The New Year > George

E: Not Coming Down

First Set Acoustic
* w/ NYE Countdown
** w/ Emma Derhak on vox
# FTP (cover – Tom Waits)
## LTP > 3/24/13
^ LTP > 7/25/09 }