moe. continues to be one of the most prolific jambands ever to take the stage. Their catalog includes hundreds of songs allowing them to weave amazing musical tapestries on any given night. Their touring schedule has receded a bit in recent years, however they never leave fans waiting too long for their return. After an awesome two-night run at the end of November last year at The Ogden, moe. returns to Colorado. They played two more nights that included an opening slot for Blues Traveler’s yearly 4th of July celebration at Red Rocks. However the highlight of their run has to be the two sets of carnage that occurred at The Boulder Theater on the 3rd.
The first set was fairly standard clocking in just over seventy minutes. They opened with “Tubing The River Styx.”
Set 1: Tubing The River Styx> The Pit> CalifornIA> Bring You Down, Paper Dragon, Dr. Graffenberg> Hava Nagila> Long Island Girls Rule
Set 2: meat> Silver Sun> Sensory Deprivation Bank> meat> Recreational Chemistry> meat> Tom Sawyer
You can listen to the show on Archive. Thanks to Gerry Gladu for posting. http://archive.org/details/moe2013-07-03.16bit
They eased into the night with a dark brooding jam that included the 1-2-3 punch of “Tubing The River Styx” into “The Pit” into a bouncier “CaliforniIA.” Chuck and Al continue to be two of the most dynamic guitarists in the business. They seem to have an almost telepathic level of communication when it comes to their live performances. Rob really got a chance to shine both vocally and on bass during “Paper Dragon,” which reaches new levels every time I see it live. The real peak of the first set was the sublime “Dr. Graffenberg” as it saw a return to the dark jam that started the show. It went long and scary giving fans exactly what they were waiting for. Going classic moe. quickly riffed on “Hava Nagila” before they closed with the now rare “Long Island Girls Rule.” They have not performed it since their New Year’s run last year.
The second set was absolute dynamite beginning with the ultimate “meat” fake out. Right as moe. reached the crescendo of “meat” which would normally break into a frenzied homage to all things protein they stopped on a dime and ripped into “Silver Sun.” It was a weird feeling to say the least, but those of us in the know sensed it would return. “Sensory Deprivation Bank” was tight and clean and saw that revisit to a shortened “meat” jam that barely went past the point of tease. However, “Recreational Chemistry” was a thirty-minute plus jaunt into the outermost. Rarely can bands even pontificate on jamming on one tune for over half an hour let alone execute it so effortlessly. This was one for the books in my humble opinion. Directly following moe. went into the extended “meat” we were all craving. Between the two songs they performed almost an hour total. This is some of the most epic jamming I’ve witnessed live this year. As they rounded the bend on their twenty-minute “meat” the tone in the room changed. Jim went to the rarely used microphone for a stunning take on Rush’s “Tom Sawyer.” His nasally voice was the perfect substitute for Getty Lee’s and he just nailed it. moe. came back and encored with a huge “Mexico.” This show saw some powerful jamming from a band that still has it. They can go down the road of quick romps through wide swaths of their catalog or meander through the intricacies of a single song. moe.’s show at The Boulder Theater demonstrated both approaches.
After a lazy night with Railroad Earth at The Boulder Theater it was time for the main event with both RRE and Umphrey’s McGee showcasing their skills at Red Rocks. Seeing UM always reminds me of Summer Camp, and gets me excited for next year’s festival. CIT Tiffany was also in attendence at the show and you can read her review of Red Rocks and UM at the Boulder Theater here. Opting out of throwing their third Red, Rocks, & Blue show around the 4th of July, UM instead, created a late summer run that included both bands playing in Boulder. Traffic was murder as all the Coloradoans sped down the road for one more summer adventure before the leaves turned. We arrived at the box office, which was swamped with all manner of wooks, hippie chicks, and lot regulars. It was like working my way through the Cantina on Mos Eisley in Star Wars complete with alien life forms and shitty oboe jams. After procuring my pass we headed to the top and parked in Upper North. The lot was full as randoms milled about waiting to head inside. Our time was short, but we managed to see a few friends and have a beer before finding a spot inside.
The show was GA again meaning that all of Red Rocks was wide open. Fans squeezed to the front as the middle quickly filled in. Railroad Earth took the stage with a massive “Seven Story Mountain” to start their almost two-hour set.
SET I: Seven Story Mountain, Happy Song, Gold Rush, Mighty River, Saddle Of The Sun, The Old Man and the Land, Elko, Mourning Flies, Lone Croft Farewell, Hunting Song, Long Way To Go, Spring-Heeled Jack, Colorado
Overall the Railroad set just had more energy than the previous night in Boulder. They were playing to the crowd with long meandering jams and even playing in a borderline psychedelic style towards the end of their set. Railroad Earth is a great band that continues to grow and evolve. Every year that they come to Colorado they bring a new song and stylistic shift that broadens their appeal and furthers their ability to excite audiences. In just the last three years they have come so far, I can honestly say when they bring the energy they are a tough band to beat live. Last year RRE played Red Rocks with Yonder Mountain String Band, but making a shift and hoping to open up their sound to new fans, they decided to play with Umphrey’s McGee. I for one think this is a bold move on their part and an excellent way to get exposure in Colorado. Most YMSB fans would know RRE, but that is not necessarily true of UM fans. Not to mention that this set was a solid introduction for anyone who was new to seeing them live. Highlights of the show included a strong “Elko” and a stunning “Spring Heeled-Jack.” They ended the opening set appropriately enough with “Colorado.”
Umphrey’s was up next and at this point there was still plenty of room at the top of the venue. I’m not sure why UM has such a hard time selling out Red Rocks. It seems that they did everything to promote the show properly including ticket giveaways, announcing they would be filming a DVD, creating social media buzz, and more. They seem to be cursed at The Edge; they just hit a wall around 8,000 attendees every year, never really breaking that barrier. The members of Umphrey’s have been having fun with some mock political ads featuring Joel Cummins and Andy Farag for president. Both sets began with an attack ad from both sides.
After the ad they opened with a fun but quick “There’s No Crying In Mexico.”
SET I: There’s No Crying In Mexico> All In Time> ‘Jimmy Stewart’*> All In Time, Puppet String> 2×2, Miami Virtue> The Linear> Weird Fishes/Arpeggi, The Floor
SET II: Ocean Billy, Nothing Too Fancy> Mulche’s Odyssey, End of the Road, Conduit> Nothing Too Fancy, Plunger> Puppet String
ENCORE I: Kashmir^
ENCORE II: JaJunk
*with Lyrics ^with Railroad Earth
This is just a classic Umphrey’s show, featuring some solid back and forth jamming as well as amazingly tight delivery, which has been their hallmark for the better part of a decade now. The “All In Time” “Jimmy Stewart” sandwich stretched on to the 20-minute mark showing the band’s readiness to go off the deep end right from the onset. After the band caught their breath they went into another long version of “Puppet String” which was left unfinished. The “2×2” was a chance for the band to stretch out under Bayliss’s singing. “Miami Virtue” was a welcomed tune as it has been slowly developing as a crowd favorite since its release on Death By Stereo. Bayliss again took the vocals with the progressive-tinged “The Linear.” Umphrey’s surprised the crowd with the Radiohead cover “Weird Fishes/Arpeggi,” which was done quite well. They ended the first set with a foreboding “The Floor,” leaving many fans chomping at the bit for set two. This was just a solid first set offering from UM. They established that they were ready to jam, and that they were definitely still playing at the top of their game.
The second set began another campaign ad and another enormous jam this time on “Ocean Billy.” The “Nothing Too Fancy” built very nicely as the band layered their instrumentation quite well, before it erupted into crunchy “Mulche’s Odyssey.” They came back down to planet earth with a tasty “End of the Road.” Umphrey’s blasted off with a dark take on “Conduit” which felt like the pivot point of the entire set. Kris Myers and Andy Farag brought the heat here before the band made their way back into the close of “Nothing Too Fancy.” They ended the second set with an incredible “Plunger” back into “Puppet String.” The second set was a beautiful display of how well these guys play together as a group. They listen to each other and they know what the other members of the band are thinking. Every time I see Umphrey’s live it’s like looking at a perfectly timed engine with all the components completely in synch. It is because they are so tight that they continue to attract new fans and push the limits of their musical potential.
The first encore may have been the highlight of the entire show with Railroad Earth sitting in with UM on Led Zeppelin’s “Kashmir.” RRE did get lost in the mix a bit, but it was definitely a fun experiment. I honestly thought that UM would entertain some more acoustic playing given the fact that they have performed several stripped down shows as of late. This was not the case, rather RRE played up to a heavier sound, which is definitely apparent in this encore. Umphrey’s came back for a second encore solo and played a nice “JaJunk” to close the show. It was a pleasant way to close out Red Rocks for the summer and an enjoyable show all around. The combination of RRE and UM made for an interesting dynamic. I look forward to the day when UM will become fully embraced in Colorado and finally sell out Red Rocks. They certainly deserve it.
After night one of moe. at The Boulder Theater I couldn’t wait to get back into the room for round two. We got caught up in the day and ended up walking in just as the boys from New York ripped into Bearsong. This song was on a five-year hiatus in the early 2000’s but has been making it into steady rotation since 2004. However I have never seen it as an opener and I can tell you it most definitely set the mood for the entire night. It felt like a virtual continuation of the power and energy present on in Boulder on Friday. Here is the setlist from PT.
SET I: Bearsong> Runaway Overlude, One Way Traffic, Head> Hector’s Pillow> Bullet> 32 Things
SET II: Awesome Gary> Californ IA> Big World, Rainshine, Cathedral, Captain America> Mexico
ENCORE: Chromatic Nightmare> Rebubula
You can download the recording on Archive. Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting.
Bearsong was like jumping feet first into the hot coals of a raging fire. We got a chance to catch half a breath with the intro to Runaway Overlude before Chuck and Al went into dueling guitar solos. Al even made his way over to Chuck side for the musical battle. One Way Traffic, a Rob song off of Welcome To The La Las, confused a few in the crowd, but I enjoyed it. As I said in my review from night one I really dig how moe. transforms and expands on their newer songs in a live setting. They always seem to fit well into the overall mix for me and I’ve felt this way going back to Wormwood.
Head saw Al taking the reigns with the ferocity that made me a fan of his way back when. It was the beginning of the massive jam that they would ride through the end of the first set. Hector’s Pillow took us back to the rage tone that dominated the majority of the show. The crowd was literally making the floor bounce as they danced fast and strong. Again the energy in the room was powerful and contagious. It was slightly more packed than night one but still maneuverable. I know more than a couple people who jumped ship from Widespread to get some electric-fueled moe. goodness rather than sit through another night of acoustic music. Bullet was definitely the highlight of the first set stretching well over the fifteen-minute mark and showing the crowd that moe. was there to play. They closed with a ripping version of 32 Things that saw Rob slapping his funky bass sublimely.
moe. has been doing a second set opener contest on their Facebook page, picking up odds and ends from the tour and putting them in a box for the person who guesses the most correctly. I can only assume that the Awesome Gary opener was a curveball for their fans. This is yet another song that took an extended hiatus not being played for nine years and only recently making it back onto setlists. I for one had never heard it performed live so I was stoked to see them bust it out. Californ IA was a jam that the let the audience settle into the set before an intense Big World. Vinnie was a rock all weekend holding down the changes and keeping the band in line. Rainshine another newer track, which I got to witness the debut of at Summer Camp last year, was solid. This song just builds properly in live setting and I dig the overall rock attitude. After which they went into my favorite song off of Sticks And Stones, Cathedral. I could have left the show happy then, but the rest of the show would end up being classic moe. gold. Opium felt like a cool breeze washing over everyone in the room and Captain America could have easily been the second set closer. However the boys felt it would be prudent to toss in a seventeen-minute version of Mexico to shut her down correct.
They encored with Chromatic Nightmare, which could honestly be the intro to just about any song in moe.’s catalog before absolutely blowing the roof off the place with Rebubula. Now, the thing about Rebubula is that I edited my Summer Camp Counselor video to this track and they encored the last night of Scamp with it. They did the same in Boulder and I couldn’t help but feel it was another little pat on my back. I know it’s just a great tune to encore with, but a fat hippie can dream can’t he? Overall moe. came to Boulder and blew away all my expectations. The last few years they have worked hard to win over new fans and reinvigorate their fanbase in Colorado. I feel they accomplished just that and had an extremely successful two-night run on the Front Range. Now, I look ahead to another amazing run at Summer Camp and am ready to see them do what they do best at one of their home festivals.