Concert Review: moe. at The Ogden Theater in Denver, December 2013

DSC00559 Moe. has reliably made Colorado a part of their annual winter tour schedule since the late 90’s. This year was no exception. We were treated to two nights of the boys from New York at what has become their winter home in Denver, the Ogden Theater. Moe. at times has had trouble gaining a real foothold in Colorful Colorado. The dedicated .rons will always make it out. Despite being full for both shows, neither night was completely sold out. This particular run happened to fall smack dab in one of coldest streaks we’ve had in Denver this year. As we drove down from Fort Collins, the mercury was dipping well below zero.

moe. with Magic Beans 12.6.13

The Magic Beans are a Boulder band that has made great strides in developing a devoted fan base on the Front Range. Their bouncy jam infused sound is wholly approachable and quite enjoyable. They opened with their original, “Luck” that featured Casey Russell trading licks on the keys with Hunter Welles on guitar.

Set 1: Luck, Dying Day, Who’s Crazy*> Zumbai

*w/ Con Te Patiro tease

Their four-song set stretched to just under an hour as the crowd quickly filled in to just under capacity. Their set was a great demonstration of what The Magic Beans do well. A very clean show that culminated with a huge “Who’s Crazy.” The version was a great musical juxtaposition of their tight but relaxed sound and the frenetic rage jam that they are also known for. It also had a striking Con Te Patiro tease. They finished just before 10 PM. Keep an eye on these guys, as they continue to develop and reinvent themselves with each live performance. They are a lot of fun.

Fans that went outside were slapped in the face with a frostbite inducing -8 degrees. Many opted to hunker down and wait for moe. They opened with a healthy “Tubing The River Styx”

Set 1: Tubing The River Styx> The Pit> Kyle’s Song> Bear Song, Lost Along the Way, Tailspin> Timmy Tucker

Set 2: Big World> Ricky Marten> Time>Hi and Lo, Oh, Hanukkah, McBain> Down Boy> Billy Goat

Encore: Spine Of A Dog
Audio by Chuck Miller

Moe. brought the power early.  “The Pit” went to the dark side and allowed the boys to flex their musical muscles. The band simply exploded into an amazing “Kyle’s Song.” The jam stretched on filling up an entire twenty minutes with multiple teases including a sly riff on Birdsong. And without missing a note the band launched into a sinister and intense “Bear Song.” They gave a nod to Lou Reed with a “Walk On The Wild Side” tease. It just seemed like the band was really having fun, which will always transmit to the crowd.  Fans were finally able to catch their breath during the slower, Al sung “Lost Along The Way.” They went back into high gear with a tight “Tailspin” before the very suitable closer “Timmy Tucker.” This first set of music was at a very high caliber and a great indication of what was to come.

During the break kids debated weather a smoke was worth the bone-chilling cold. Others simply mingled with their neighbors. After a short wait they came back to the stage with the brooding classic “Big World.” Moe. wasted no time by segueing beautifully into a ridiculously funky “Rickey Marten.” The unexpected highlight came in the form of Pink Floyd’s “Time,” which has been played sporadically since 2000. After a brief “Hi and Lo” they busted out “Oh Hanukah” that featured some sick surf drum riffs from Vinnie Amico. This instrumental had not been played in 643 shows. “McBain” was another journey into the deep going a full 19 minutes with all the boys settling in nicely.  It also featured some of the best back and forth guitar work of the night with both Chuck and Al taking it to the extreme on their instruments. “Down Boy” into the “Billy Goat” closer was another high point in a great show.

After Alnouncements, Moe. encored with a straight forward “Spine Of A Dog” before saying their goodbyes. The first set was the obvious winner, but the entire show was just solid. Musically there are very few bands that are as tight as moe. They’ve been together for so long and play with each other so consistently that there is an apparent effortlessness to every performance. Their first night in Denver was totally worth braving the cold. Fans bundled up and flailed for cabs on the corner. Others sprinted to hotel rooms. As I happily walked out into the crisp night air I kept thinking one down, one to go.

moe. with Technicolor Tone Factory 12.7.13

DSC01101Saturday felt downright balmy with the mercury hovering right around 0 degrees. Most fans spend the daylight hours either hunkered down beneath layers of blankets or they opted to go the Jay Blakesberg Jam book signing. Rumor had it that moe. would show up and they most definitely did. After a short performance and a bit of revelry for Jay it was all over and time to focus on round two. Doors again opened at 8 PM with Technicolor Tone Factory starting up right around 9 PM. I’ve seen the TTF name floating around the Front Rage scene for a short while now. This was my first opportunity to see them perform live, and I have to say I was impressed. Tight riff-heavy jams were the hallmark of a band that defies categorization. It’s as if elements of Daft Punk and Jimi Hendrix went to a secluded cabin in the woods and came back with a love child. That love child is Technicolor Tone Factory. This five-piece is one to keep an eye on. Their original “Heist” into a spot on version of Ted Nugent’s “Stranglehold” was a real highlight of the entire evening. Their performance at The Ogden on Saturday was both musically skillful and totally proper given the audience. I wouldn’t be surprised if Technicolor Tone Factory makes their way to a festival near you this summer.

Moe. stuck to the game plan and again made their way onto the stage a little after 10PM. They opened up the night with a crunchy “St. Augustine” that contained some serious shredding from Mr. Chuck Garvey.

Set 1: St. Augustine> Wind It Up, Bluejeans Pizza*> Waiting For The Punchline, We’re a Couple of Misfits, Jazz Wank> Buster

Set 2: Queen Of Everything> George, Captain America> Seat Of My Pants>Yodelittle> Lazarus> Yodelittle, Dr. Graffenberg

Encore: Akimbo

*w/ Taylor Frederick of Technicolor Tone Factory
Audio by Brad Ziegler

Night two was a literal parade of crowd pleasers, several done with a great attention to detail and with much panache. “Wind It Up” was straight forward, but they invited TTF guitarist Taylor Frederick out for a little extended collaboration on “Bluejeans Pizza.” This particular version went well over fifteen minutes and included lockstep transition into a perfect “Waiting For The Punchline.” Moe. just knows how to build a proper set. Peaks and Valleys, ebbs and flows, they get it. “Punchline” just exploded into an all out dance party before the band gave a two minute tease with their punkish rendition of a rare tune off of their 2002 Season’s Greetings album, “We’re a Couple of Misfits.” “Jazz Wank” went sort of bouncy as they built the intricate layers of that song. They segued beautifully into the set-ending “Buster.” A great closer, this tune became a giant sing-along before moe. called it a set.

The Ogden overall seemed relatively relaxed. Perhaps the jitters of running a live music venue in the one of the first states to legalize it have finally subsided. The crowd too, seemed to be fairly docile and in tune with the band. There was a distinct lack of utter spunions dotting the perimeter. All in all, the atmosphere on Saturday night was damn near textbook. Moe. opened the second set with a tight and invigorating “Queen Of Everything.” Jim Loughlin and Vinnie Amico went back and forth on percussion, pushing the song to its absolute limit. The subtle segue into “George” did little to foreshadow the massiveness of this version. Al blasted off on vocals as the rest of the band fell into a stone groove. The band finally paused momentarily before again launching off into a much appreciated “Captain America.” Chuck and Al shared the microphone duet style for “Seat Of My Pants,” which went intensely metal towards the end. The “Yodelittle” sandwich with “Lazarus” as the baloney was the highlight of the second set. They closed with an incredible “Dr. Graffenberg” and continued the recent tradition of pushing this song into the psychedelic stratosphere through deliberate and distorted jamming.

Again Al, paid his respects before they wrapped it up with a one song encore. This time fans were treated to a high-energy burn in the form of “Akimbo.” Having seen moe. now 55 times I can honestly say that this is a band that comes to play. Night after night they throw down. Although their tour schedule has retracted a bit due to family and what not, they are still one of the hardest working bands in the live music scene today. Both shows at The Ogden were solid and despite the weather fans enthusiastically engaged in the experience. As we wandered out into the late night on Colfax I was struck by a thought. Summer Camp is just around the corner, until then moe.