MOE. at OGDEN THEATRE | 12/7/13 moe. opened its tour in Denver this weekend, and the time the guys spent in the studio really had them ready. Vocal harmonies were on point all night and the outfit played seamless transitions all night, along with offering a few moments of psychedelic exploration. Fusing many different sounds together, including non-traditional Christmas music of all things, the band, which is coming up on its 25th anniversary next year, played long and late (set two started at 12:10), and the constant changes in tempo and style kept the energy up.
The military march beat of "St. Augustine" started the night off. A searing rock and roll guitar solo got things going immediately with loud, sustained notes from Chuck Garvey. The arrangement dropped down to only the drummer Vinnie Amico and then segued into "Wind it Up," with percussionist Jim Loughlin xylophone playing adding a unique and twinkling element to the band's sound. Garvey once again took the spotlight, this time showing his guitar finesse and technicality, showering the crowd with fast paced notes precision.
Bassist Rob Derhak played the dreamy bass chord intro of "Blue Jeans Pizza," as guest guitarist Taylor Frederick, from opener Technicolor Tone Factory, joined the band on stage. There was a simultaneous guitar attack from Garvey and Al Schnier as they layered their guitar sounds over each other into major key bliss.
For his part, Frederick threw down a sweet guitar riff that sounded like Hendrix's "Third Stone from the Sun" before leaving the stage, letting the band get down into a thick, rock groove. The guys took the tempo down a notch and transitioned into "Waiting for the Punchline," with Loughlin bringing the energy back up with a washboard for the hoedown breakdown as a bright clear solo came from Schnier's Les Paul.
"We're a Couple of Misfits," from the classic 1964 Rudolph special, was fitting and fantastic on a cold, snowy night, and Derhak really nailed those bratty British pop punk vocal inflections. Up next, came older classic "Jazz Wank," with an underwater sounding bass line and quick high hat tapping allowing things to really build up into a nice peak. A calypso beat broke in as the group transitioned into "Buster" to close out the set. Derhak slapped the hell out of his bass in a final act of showmanship, as the lights strobed and guitars were shredded, leaving the audience pumped going into set break.
"Queen of Everything" started up set two, with punkish elements adding an interesting texture to moe.'s sound as another screaming rock solo came from Schnier. The outro was full of reverb and noise, as the outfit segued into the Pink Floyd-esque "George," with Derhak keeping the low-end heavy as multiple guitar effects came into play.
The act's classic hit "Captain America" got the crowd roaring with approval and singing along, although none as articulate as Derhak. The tempo increased as the guys moved into reggae-tinged "Seat of my Pants", Schnier a highlight here as he screamed through his solo with notes aiming higher and higher.
The bright happy funk of "Yodelittle" came next. The band yodeled away as it moved into a nice dance groove. Psychedelic goodness flowed from the guys as Schnier tossed the melody for "Bones of Lazarus" in and then sped back into "Yodelittle." Garvey, meanwhile, was down on the ground playing with effects as the band brought things to trancelike jam.
The fast ska beat of "Dr. Graffenberg" finished off set two, the exemplary xylophone skills of Loughlin once again being shown off. The band finished out the night with encore song "Akimbo," as the crowd cheered and then quickly raced to get outside and grab any taxis since it was almost 2 a.m.
Technicolor Tone Factory out of Boulder started the night off with a sound that was, at first, Southern Rock tinged but quickly went in a more prog-rock direction, with talkbox effects giving the band a modern sounding edge. With a solid, rehearsed sound and a charismatic onstage presence, TTF got the excited crowd dancing.
Personal Bias: This was the best moe. show I've seen. Random Detail: Popular local food truck Burger Radio was on site, always a welcome addition to any event. By The Way: The multi-dot light filters look great facing each other on the backdrop, kind of looked like a forest.
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