Since forming more than 20 years ago in Buffalo, New York, moe. has always done things its own way, an approach that has earned the five-piece band a loyal following on the jam-band scene. Known for its lengthy shows and heavy reliance on improvisation, moe. kept its reputation intact during its two-set performance.
Central to the band’s sound is the twin-guitar attack of founding members Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, who shared lead duties on opener “Spaz Medicine,” which shapeshifted from light calypso to a deep groove. With bassist Rob Derhak seated with a foot injury the entire show, moe.’s first set was relatively tight and song-oriented, featuring the countrified “Letter Home,” straight-ahead rocker “Okayalright” and the slow burn of “Four.”
After a 40-minute break, moe. returned to the stage ready to stretch things out. “Zed Nought Z” started as a mid-tempo voyage augmented by Jim Loughlin’s precision on vibes and built into a frenetic crescendo with Schnier delivering a blistering rock-star-worthy solo. And the addition of the trumpet and trombone players from opening act Orgone helped give “Nebraska” a Dixieland bent.
From there, the jams got even deeper on “Chromatic Nightmare,” a cover of Frank Zappa’s “San Ber’dino” and “Recreational Chemistry,” although the music meandered on occasion during the spacey instrumental explorations. The band capped the evening with the two-song encore of “Good Trip” and “New York City,” ending the show at 1 a.m. While more restraint would seem to benefit moe. at times, the audience’s reaction said otherwise. ★★★☆☆