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Story and Photos by Matt SchwenkeJust days after the release of their 18th album, Sticks and Stones, New York-based moe. unveiled some new material on stage at The Rave, with a little help from fiddler Allie Kral of opening act Cornmeal and later from the crowd and some moe. faithful (affectionately known as moe.rons), and after more than three hours on stage, have managed to continue to raise their rock/jam/pop appeal after almost 20 years as a band.
The first set started out on the catchy rock/pop note of "Captain America" from the group's 2001 release Dither, before the band delivered their new take of a similar mold in the title track of their new album. Reaching back to a live gem and inviting Kral onstage for "Waiting for the Punchline" and the new "September" guitarist/vocalist Al Schneir's insanely dextrous bluegrass stylings melded perfectly amongst Kral's fiery strings before Schneir, guitarist/vocalist Chuck Garvey and bassist/vocalist Rob Derhak centered around a perfectly delivered three-part harmony. To end the set, Garvey would shred up technical guitar lines in the rockin' "Lazarus."
A run of the murky "Bearsong," the chugging "Runaway Overlude" and the ambient "ZO2" plotted a more experimental/psychadelic path in the second set with an extended drum and percussion solos from Vinnie Amico and Jim Laughlin and then the island dance sounds of "Kids," from the 2003 release Wormwood, putting an exclamation point on the night. The last twenty minutes, roughly, would border flat out jams and math rock with long, complicated progressions, but a reprise of "Brent Black" would end the second set in an impressive wrap-up of the evening.
Returning for an encore with Kral and a stage full of friends/fans, moe. and the crowd thanked each other amongst a folk backdrop in "Raise a Glass" from the new album. And salutations indeed-- moe. are consistently a great live rock act, and the more direct, Americana sort of blend of song writing found in the new material shines light on a band still on the rise creatively.
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