moe. played their first of two shows at the Yarmouth Drive-In to a sold out crowd full of people who loved them enough to accept any precautionary rules needed to feel the music they love made live. The band rewarded that faith with a set list full of classics, a couple of newer tunes, and a safe and secure place to enjoy it all thanks to the theater operators and streaming company Mandolin.
The robust sound of Mandolin’s streaming pre-show music gave me hope for the broadcast, but I still wasn’t ready for how crisp and strong it was. Running through my home entertainment system I was able to crank the volume to near ludicrous levels without any sonic loss. There were a variety of resolution options but even my sometimes sluggish internet had no problem running the stream at 1080p on a 45 inch screen.
Opening with the gleeful bounce of “Threw It All Away” was a good way to get the energy up from the beginning. Dropping a “Plane Crash” for the second song in the set was an interesting use of much loved set and show closer. “Skrunk” led off the first extended jam of the night as flowed into an expansive “Time Ed”. Percussionist Jim Loughlin took an extended tour of his vibraphone keys that was both melodic and an impressive showcase of his ever evolving mallet skills.
moe. – “Time Ed” – 10/23/20
By the opening notes of “Akimbo” the band was clearly warming up and feeling the groove. Guitarist Chuck Garvey, known to some as Satan himself, certainly laid down some devilish licks before Loughlin and drummer Vinnie Amico went for a snappy transition into “Who You Calling Scared?” The track kicked around their set lists before appearing on the recent This Is Not, We Are album moe. dropped earlier this summer. Garvey’s tasty blues licks gave the tune some heft and depth. A tight take on “Downward Facing Dog” closed out the first set and was greeted with cheers and honks of approval.
After a set break perfectly long enough to cook a tin of biscuits for tomorrow’s breakfast, moe. got back to work with an appropriately timed “Along The Way”. What little rust evident in the first set seemed to fall off as an energetic “Annihilation Blues” slid happily into a bouncy “Bring It Back Home”. Bassist Rob Derhak nimbly nailed the intricate bass line that leads into the final chorus with the band nipping neatly at his heels.
Clearly ready to keep grooving the band launched into a barn-burning take on the instrument “Mar De Ma” that was as tight as any mid-tour version. Amico was razor sharp on his fills and Derhak broke down the groove so perfectly that only the most die hard of listeners caught them drifting into “Billy Goat”.
moe. – “Billy Goat” – 10/23/20
This crowd favorite ode to Derhak’s late father features one of moe.’s absolute best guitar sections, with Garvey and Al Schnier trading off arching and soulful licks before a penultimate crescendo from Amico and Loughlin. Schnier’s soaring closing lines were flat out transcendent, but his quip in the tuning that followed about how they had “Finally made it on the radio” was humble and hilarious.
Schnier kicked off the set closing “Puebla>Bearsong” that more than lived up to the energy built throughout the evening. From Schnier’s fiery guitar work in the middle section of “Puebla” to Derhak’s galloping horseman of the apocalypse bass line in “Bearsong” to the smiles the two shared, it was clear they were both exactly where they wanted to be. The vacuum created by the ending of the tune was palpable.
moe. quickly ambled back out with one more beverage in time for Schnier to read a quick round of “al.nouncements” and heading into a smoky “Happy Hour Hero”. After a loose, lush jam, the crescendo came and went. As they left the stage Derhak joked he’d see our faces and bumpers soon. With a second show at the venue tonight that’s clearly a certainty (Click here for tickets and here for the livestream).
These socially distant shows may not be perfect but they are simply the reality we face for the time being. The magical energy loop moe. shares with their fans was lessened by distance but it was clearly still there. moe. might not have been looking out to a packed house of blissful jamming people, but they saw something pretty wonderful. They saw fans who will do everything they can to keep the love alive until the world is safe for us all to be together again. In the end, keeping the love is alive is all we ever should be doing anyway, isn’t it?
Setlist: moe. | Yarmouth Drive-In | Yarmouth, MA | 10/23/20
Set 1: Threw It All Away, Plane Crash, Skrunk>Time Ed, Akimbo>Who Are You Calling Scared?, Downward Facing Dog
Set 2: Along For The Ride>Annihilation Blues>Bring It Back Home, Mar De Mar>Billy Goat, Puebla>Mar De Ma>Bear Song
Encore: Happy Hour Hero
 No Huddle Segue
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