Saturday, March 14, 2015

moe. at the Best Buy Theater

moe. formed in 1989 originally as Five Guys named Moe, named after a Louis Jordan song, for a Halloween party at the University at Buffalo. By the following year, moe. had evolved into a popular bar band around Buffalo, New York. The band's first album, Fatboy, in 1992 established moe. as a favorite of the 1990s jam band and improvisational rock scene. With popularity growing, the musicians recorded Headseed in 1994, officially quitting their day jobs and relocating to the more fertile music scene around Albany, New York. Gaining national attention, moe. won five of Relix magazine's Jammy Awards from 2001 to 2008. moe. presently consists of Al Schnier (guitar, vocals, keyboard), Chuck Garvey (guitar, vocals), Rob Derhak (bass, vocals), Vinnie Amico (drums), and Jim Loughlin (percussion). The band's 11th and most recent studio album, No Guts, No Glory!, was released on May 27, 2014.

moe. brought its 25th anniversary to New York with one night at le Poisson Rouge and two consecutive nights at the Best Buy Theater, performing an entirely different set each night. The music ranged from easy-flowing Grateful Dead-style jams to more intricate rhythms on jazz-infused intonations and basic riffs on harder rocking interludes. Energetic drive and innovative vitality generated a synergy among the musicians that sparked 15-minute songs with fresh, airy sounds rather than hammering a groove. All five musicians had their moments in the spotlight, but the center of gravity was grounded in the technical abilities of the two guitarists. Schnier and Garvey consistently provided the fireworks with fluid and mesmerizing leads for nearly three hours. Brief lyrical interjections were more like breaks in the extended guitar solos than compositional frameworks. Closing the final night, moe. was joined on stage by the Conehead Buddha horn section (Shannon Lynch on saxophone, Terry Lynch on trumpet, Shaun Bazylewicz on trombone) for three songs, "Not Coming Down", "Threw It All Away" and "Dr. Graffenberg." Grounded in innovative musicianship and dynamic energy, moe. demonstrated that it may be the preeminent progressive jam band on the music scene today.

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