Buffalo’s champion rock and rollers moe. brought their New Year’s party to the Palace Theatre in Albany this year. Night one of this two-night stand was no mere warm-up for New Year’s Eve, which saw the band deliver three delicious sets and dress up as animals.
The December 30 show played out like a seminar for dedicated scholars of moe.
The first set began with a sequence of strong openings from all three co-frontmen, with bassist Rob Derhak’s “Paper Dragon” dropping straight into guitarist Chuck Garvey’s “YOY,” followed by guitarist Al Schnier’s “George,” which brought the first 15-plus minute improvisation of the evening.
The charmingly goofy, breezy soul falsetto groove “Blue Jeans Pizza” made a welcome appearance (check out the studio recording on 2006’s The Conch.) Schnier brought “Puebla” to soaring peaks in his signature snappy, wah-infused guitar tone. The set ended on a playfully note, invoking Beelzebub in “The Pit.”
Set two was all about meaty jams. First came the nested configuration of “ZOZ” > “Timmy Tucker” > “Akimbo” > “Timmy Tucker” > “ZOZ,” with the three-song blend clocking in at about one hour total.
The prog-rock instrumental “ZOZ” was tightly delivered and opened into a jam characterized first by the easy, euphoric of Jim Loughlin’s marimba and later by a turn to minor territory with Loughlin returning to ring in a sense of urgency on the vibrophone.
Without a break in the music, the “Timmy Tucker” groove was introduced with deliberate grace. Schnier made tasteful use of delay in the transition, a technique integral to his style and prevalent throughout the night.
Holding onto the spotlight, Schnier charged out of the first chorus into a nightmarish kind of carnival music that continued until interrupted by Loughlin, who then opened the jam up into a truly psychedelic group exploration.
Through the will to bring order out of chaos, the jam coalesced into “Akimbo.”
Here, as during most of his guitar solos, Garvey exhibited his masterful straight-ahead rock and roll prowess, the contrast to Schnier’s more out-there playing that makes moe. what it is.
Time and space seemed to suspend as the collective dream wove on, back through “Timmy Tucker” and the reprise of “ZOZ.”
The remainder of the set continued to offer places for the mind to wander and inspiration for the body to dance.
After a quick break and a reach into the totally awesome song bag, the band ended the night with “Godzilla.” YouTube it; it’s great.
This band is a homegrown New York state legend, and having their New Year’s run in the background of our campus community this year was great.