moe. Tees Up Another Classic Atlanta Run With Sold-Out Terminal West Show January 29, 2016 13:15
Words & Photos by Live & Listen
Buffalo-born jam band, moe., made their highly anticipated return to Atlanta on Thursday night, treating many of their most loyal fans to a rare, intimate experience. While moe. isn't playing America's largest arenas, seeing the seasoned jam vets play a sold-out show to a cozy 600 people makes for a very special occasion. Especially when you consider the band's history in Hotlanta: a total of 45 shows dating back to 1995 (Chameleon Club - 09.01.95), Smith's Olde Bar (three shows), Variety Playhouse (seven shows), Masquerade Music Park (four shows), The Tabernacle (fourteen shows), and even The Fox Theatre (four shows). Thursday night would mark the band's first appearance at Terminal West. With two nights ahead at The Tabernacle, moe. kicked off yet another multi-night Atlanta run in epic style.
Extra tickets were a rare sight outside of Terminal West, which has quickly become one of the premier intimate venues in America. The band came out swinging with "Blue Jeans Pizza," the opening track from the 2006 release The Conch, an album which captures a perfect blend of the band's studio and live sound. After what seemed to be a lengthy tease on "She," BJP landed perfectly into "Rise," one of Al Schnier's (guitar/vocals) classics off of Dither (2001). The band then welcomed local lap steel guitarist AJ Ghent to the stage, giving the local a chance to lay down some fiery "sacred steel" on "Tambourine" and "Deep This Time." Next up was "Mar-DeMa," a heavy-hitting instrumental which was written for the band's Electric Lemoe.nade Acid Tests back in 2010. "Brittle End" was perfectly placed, giving the crowd a chance to settle down and catch it's breath. A seemless transition into "Seat Of My Pants," one of the bands oldest vintage jams, brought the first set to a close.
It seems cliche to say that the band picked up right where they left off, but it's true. "Zed Naught Z" is a powerful, explosive tune from the opening notes, and it was executed with perfection. Percussionist Jim Loughlin pounded away on the vibraphone like no other, throwing the room full of moe.ron's right back into the madness. moe. takes the improv as deep as any band you'll find, making their classic sing-a-longs that much more of a treat. "Down Boy," one of Rob Derhak's (bass/vocals) ballads written after the death of his dog, had the crowd shouting religiously, bringing back some nostalgic memories from 2007, the year The Conch was released. The closing chant of "Now you were gone!" carried on for several minutes, pumping a contagious energy across the venue. "Down Boy" carried right into "McBain," another monster instrumental moe. jam. I wish I could recall every twist and turn from this one, but there were too many to count. One particular moment lit a fire into the building, as Chuck Garvey (guitar/vocals) teased the Talking Heads' classic, "Crosseyed & Painless."
After what had to have been a 20-minute "McBain," Schnier led the way and dove deep into the band's 20+ year catalog with "Threw It All Away." The progressions of this song truly capture the essence of moe., with quirky upbeat verses that lead into a funky, reggae-ish chorus. Next up was "Yodelittle," making for the second consecutive tune off of Fatboy (1994). After thinking "McBain" would have been the jam of the night, "Yodelittle" quickly stole the title. The lead-in was lengthy and spacey per usual, building up to Schnier's familiar lines, "Yodelittle lady who, yodelittle lady that I love." Rob took this one into another realm, dropping "Derhak bombs" that reverberated across the room. This was moe. in it's finest form; taking so many of their most loyal fans on a journey and making them wonder, "Is this still Yodelitte?"
It seemed fitting for Schnier to continue to lead the way and bring the set to a close, which is exactly what happened. "Wicked Awesome," a tune which gives thanks to many of rock-n-roll's finest (Pink Floyd, The Who, Steely Dan, The Band, and Stevie Ray Vaughn...just to name a few), wrapped up a second set which was nothing short of stellar. After a brief exit, the "five guys named moe." returned for one final song, cooking up another taste from Wormwood (2003). "Crab Eyes" nearly blows the roof off every time, and Thursday night was no exception. Loughlin was back at it on the vibraphone, and the moe.rons had one more moment to sing along ("Boom Boom Boom, Bang Bang Bang").
moe.'s affinity to the city of Atlanta is no secret, and the band's first-ever performance at Terminal West lived up to the high expectations. With two nights ahead at The Tabernacle, which the band considers "one of the greatest venues in America," one would be crazy not to venture out and join in on the moe. madness.
Watch the outro jam from "Crab Eyes" at Terminal West here:
Friday - 01.29.16 - moe. w/ special guests Dumpstaphunk
Saturday - 01.30.16 - moe. w/ special guests Earphunk