Preparing for another ritualistic venture to Three Sisters Park; I can’t keep myself from reminiscing about last year. The whole experience was crazy, everything about it – from deciding to enter and making the video to announcing moe.’s first set. Entering the Camp Counselor 2012 Contest wasn’t even my idea to begin with – my friend randomly suggested it and I thought to myself “why not?” In all honesty I NEVER expected to win when I sent in my original video. It didn’t help that I emailed it merely two hours before the deadline would turn any chances of it happening to zero.
Summer Camp had always been special to me for many reasons – Summer Camp was not only the first festival I ever went to, but it was also the one weekend of the year which I could spend with my old best friends from college. When I, rather incredulously, realized I made the first round of candidates the significance and meaning of the prize began to actualize. I realized that winning wasn’t just going to be sweet because of the prizes, but because I was going to have the opportunity to experience unique moments that are literally, and as David Byrne’s would say, “once in a lifetime.”
The competition was pretty fierce. I was up against some great people; they all were smart, interesting and suited for the role. Luckily I had some good friends on my team and we fought harder and harder on each round. By the time it came down to the final three I even had my family in South America voting and telling their friends to vote as well. When the announcement was made and I read on the Facebook post that I won, I had to re-read it several times. It was exciting – I was going to get to meet and announce moe., interview some great people, and sit side stage for some great shows; the anticipation began to grow.
Within a few weeks I was finally on the trip to Peoria to be the 2012 Summer Camp Counselor. As soon as we put that rockstar parking pass on the rearview mirror and parked right next to the VIP entrance, I knew that weekend was going to be epic. Out of the many years of attendance, last year was the first time I had someone drive up to the car in a golf cart and take us (and our bags) up to our campsite. For the first time out of the many years of attendance I walked up to the backstage entrance behind the moonshine stage and demonstrated my “I can go back here pass.” I was nervous and terrified because I was going to announce moe.’s first set in about half an hour. Then I see Rob sitting in a golf cart, chillin behind his black sunglasses and he can see I’m nervous and I tell him why. “Oh you’ll be fine, it’s easy.” I smiled and said “Yeah, coming from someone who has just a bit more experience…”
The entire weekend was a blur of hectic sweetness. I couldn’t believe that suddenly it was Sunday. In those four days I had gotten to watch moe., Gigantic Underground Conspiracy and Umphrey’s sidestage. I got to partake in Wavy Dave’s birthday festivities and watch his cake melt in the 100 degree weather. I sat and spoke to Vinnie who gave me some drums instruction. I had the opportunity to interview the members of Gigantic Underground Conspiracy, G. Love, Wavy Dave and Kinetix. Umphrey’s signed their names to a poster which now hangs on my wall. The best moments however, were those unscheduled interactions with the people that make the festival what it is –getting insights and wisdom from Vinnie and Rob, singing Happy Birthday to Wavy Dave, talking to Ian, Rex, Holly, Danny, Graham, Nick, the Counselors in Training and the regular festival attendees who posed for pictures and gave me their personal take on the event.
Being Camp Counselor also experienced the festival in completely new way; in my effort to capture the energy of the festival, I met more people, took more pictures, and saw more varied bands than any other year. Looking back on it all I wish I had done even more. There is no real way you can prepare for the experience however, and it all happens so fast there isn’t much time to stop and plan. I wish I could relive the entire experience with the experience of it under my belt, but I can’t. All I can do is sit and reminisce about the wonderful 2012 Summer Camp weekend and smile knowing that it all actually happened.
It could happen to you too…YOU could be one of the few people on this Earth who get to live Summer Camp in this exceptional way…but you will never know unless you try.
Congrats to Kyle Hess, Camp Counselor 2013!!
For the rest of you: Start thinking of your 2014 Camp Counselor Video!!
See you soon!!
Show two from moe. was on the dock and ready to jump into the icy lake that is the Ogden. After a strange first night I was ready for a more chill experience and some classic jamming from one of my favorite bands. I spent the day playing some disc golf and then lounging at the Rockmada before heading to dinner and then the show. It was a nice relaxing day that got us ready to rage one more night. Local favorites The Congress had been selected to fill the opening slot. Ironically the first time I saw The Congress was opening up for moe. a few years back in Breckenridge. Lead by the powerful vocals and bass of Jonathan Meadows, the band is now striped down into a power trio with Scott Lane on guitar and Mark Levy on kit. Scott gyrates wildly onstage ashe sets fire to the neck of the guitar. It’s great to see a rock outfit of this caliber playing in utter synchronicity. Again making the most of their forty-five minute slot, they performed a scorching set that saw an early “Jonah Gideon” energize the crowd. There seemed to be more early arrivers on night two. Perhaps people got the message from a solid set from YAMN on night one. The highlight of their set was a sweet version of Curtis Mayfield’s “People Get Ready” that really demonstrated Meadows’ range as a singer. He can deliver a grumbled rock voice on one song and the sing a delicate blues number on the next go. He is one of my favorite Denver singers to see live right now. They also premiered a new song entitled “When I’ve Got The Time,” which was a rockabilly number that sounded fantastic. The Congress’ set was over as soon as it began and it was time for two more from moe.
moe. opened with the Rob sung “Paper Dragon;” this track while relatively new is a great vehicle for tight riffing and fun interplay.
Set I: Paper Dragon> Happy Hour Hero, Big World> Ricky Marten> Where Does The Time Go?, Water> Haze
Set II: Skrunk> Shoot First, Y.O.Y, Spine Of A Dog> So Long> Wicked Awesome, Sticks and Stone> Spaz Medicine, Plane Crash
Encore: Zed Nought Z> Time Ed
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
They went into the fan favorite “Happy Hour Hero” that became a massive sing along. It was a smooth way to ease into the set before a nice but quick “Big World.” It was obvious that they were beginning with a quicker pace as opposed to the spaced out playing we witnessed on night one. The segues as always were clean especially so during the transition in and out of “Ricky Marten.” “Where Does The Time Go?” was a late set breather before a ridiculous “Water” ignited the fuse. Chuck’s graceful guitar licks hypnotized the audience. “Water” was the first extended jamming of the evening but never really getting too far off the beaten path. They ended the set with a stellar “Haze” that seemed fit in that spot like a well-time Tetris line.
moe. began the second set with a rowdy “Skrunk” that featured some the most intense jamming of the night. Chuck settled everyone down with a bouncy “Shoot First” before moe. pulled out the now classic “Y.O.Y’. moe. continues to be one of the tightest bands touring today. The longevity of the project has really allowed all of the members of the band to meld musically in a way that should be the standard. There are very few of groups in the scene who can say they have been around for over twenty years with not one serious breakup or extended hiatus. They treated fans to another standard with a quick “Spine Of A Dog” that a utilized a riff on Raymond Scott’s “Powerhouse” (Better known as the “Assembly Line Song”) as the segue into “Wicked Awesome.” Al killed it on “W.A.” which is tribute to the radio that shaped his love of music. “Sticks and Stones” is a personal favorite, so it was nice to see it in the mix. “Spaz Medicine” was well executed, but the “Plane Crash” was by far the best jam of the night. Reaching over fourteen minutes, it was an invigorating take on “PC” in its traditional set closing spot.
moe. encored with a very tranquil “Zed Naugh Z” before absolutely jumping over the edge with a huge “Time Ed.” All in all this was a very nice show although somewhat more bottled than night one at times. These two shows demonstrate the versatility that moe. has with each and every outing. They can walk stage and play four songs for an hour and a half or deliver fifteen-song sets. Each one of their tunes is like a piece of play dough that they can stretch or shrink based on their needs for that particular time and place. Much of that comes from their endurance as a band over time. moe. has already announced initial lineups for both Summer Camp and moe.down. Both look incredibly promising and if other festivals follow suit, we’ll be looking at another amazing summer of music. Wait what month is it? …
moe. made their jubilant return to Denver, as makeup for two missed shows in July. Their drummer Vinnie Amico came down with a case of mono, and they had to postponed several shows at the end of the summer tour. The wait was long but worthwhile, as the shows added openers for both nights that included local favorites YAMN and The Congress.
YAMN has been in Jam Band Purgatory and are just back from a yearlong hiatus. New to the group is Paul Evans on keyboards, which is part of the reason for the extended absence from the scene. One would expect some jitters or general nervousness from the band considering the time since their last show. Quite the opposite was true, with YAMN coming out as the consummate showmen and blasting through a smoking opening set.
Set I: Burner, Apparition, Floating Leave, Low Gravity, Ricochet, Home Sweet Home^
^w Chuck Garvey
As the opener for a band like moe., it’s important to hit it hard. With lots of potential new fans in the audience and only forty-five minutes to play, it’s important to make an impression quickly. That’s exactly what Yamn did at the Ogden. Soaring through the various sounds of jam and incorporating riff-y electronic effects, YAMN wowed the early arrivers. They proved to the crowd that they are still a force to contend with on the local scene. Given their absence they couldn’t have asked for a better show to reintroduce themselves to the hometown crowd. The highlight was a Chuck Garvey sit-in on Motely Crue’s “Home Sweet Home.” Yamn is known for their random covers of classic rock tunes, but this was an unexpected treat.
After a short set break the five guys named moe. took the stage looking a bit more Grizzly Adams than usual. Al stepped up to his guitar donning a salt and pepper beard and Rob came out looking generally unshaven. They opened with a classic “Graffenberg.”
Set I: Dr. Graffenberg, Hi and Lo> The Pit, Not Coming Down> Wormwood> Deep This Time, Recreational Chemistry
Set II: Silver Sun> Puebla> Interstellar Overdrive> Head, Awesome Gary> Brent Black*
ENCORE: Four> The Ghost Of Ralph’s Mom
*Rob Teased the “Peanuts Theme Song” during his bass solo while wearing a Storm Trooper mask.
Thanks to Chuck Miller for posting the recording on Archive.
“DG” stretched on into the realm of spacey with a huge solo from Al before the song melted down into a pleasant “Hi and Lo.” I like this set placement, it was a bit of a step back from “Graffenberg,” but it fit in nicely. From there they broke into the darkly, stunning “The Pit.” By this point I had made it back from the photo pit to Amy and company located to the right of the soundboard. There was an over enthused girl to my right who upon my arrival collapsed into a seizure. Amy and I caught her and braced her as several slacked-jawed gawkers gazed on in bewilderment. I finally said, “Someone go get help,” at which point the girl snapped awake and a yellow jacketed security guard took her away. Not the best way to start a show. The familiar beat of “Not Coming Down” brought the show back into focus before the band took a mid-set breather with a classy “Wormwood.” From the tranquil solitude of “Wormwood” the band emerged with Rob taking the microphone on a straightforward “Deep This Time.” “Recreational Chemistry” was anything but straightforward. Stretching on to almost 25 minutes, and again seeing Al participating in an absolute shred fest, and Jim killing it on the vibes; it was an amazing way to end the first set. One can only assume that the extended “Rec Chem” was a nod to the recent passing of Amendment 64 in Colorado.
moe. came back with a gorgeous “Silver Sun” that morphed into an dark rhythmic back and forth. The hallmark of the second set would be long jams with limited singing. It really felt like the boys just wanted to play. “Puebla” reached the ten-minute mark and continued on the darker path. moe. followed up with a massive version of Pink Floyd’s “Interstellar Overdrive.” This was a track they used to play a lot in the mid to late nineties and gets tossed into the rotation a couple times a year. It’s always a nice song to catch and this version just builds spectacularly. “Head” exploded out of the Syd Barrett classic with the .rons going nuts., but “Awesome Gary” into “Brent Black” was the highlight of the entire show. The “Brent Black” featured a nice drum solo before Rob returned to the stage, donned a Storm Trooper mask, and delivered one of the most amazing bass solos I’ve seen from him. His solo included a holiday wink to the crowd in the form a “Peanuts Theme Song” tease. The band returned to the stage to finish out “BB” and thus the second set.
moe. came back with a tasty “Four” into a brief “The Ghost of Ralph’s Mom” encore to end the first night at The Ogden. With the opener moe. pushed right up against the 2 AM curfew, but managed to squeak this one out at the buzzer. This was a solid show that ventured into the realm of space and deep jam throughout both sets. It definitely felt like the show for the fans. Night two would prove to be a show more suited for the masses.
moe. - The most amazing thing about this whole experience was getting to meet some of the artists that I so admire. As a fan, one tends to think that there is this detachment between the performers and the audience – that they live in a different world made of stars. The first time I was behind the moe. stage on Friday, waiting for the big moment when I would have to get up on that stage and announce their first set, Rob Derhak came up to me and told me not to be nervous; he talked to me and helped stop my knees from shaking like maracas. Vinnie and Al were also so kind and gave me words of encouragement. Ever since that first time, whenever I saw them I was greeted and treated like any other person. I used to love moe. for their music, but getting to know how kind, sweet and funny they are makes me love them even moe.
Wavy Dave - After their day set on Friday, despite having jammed hard in the blazing heat, Wavy was kind enough to sit down with me and let me ask him a few questions. He is super nice and SO talented, he plays like a million instruments! The next day was his birthday; HAPPY BIRTHDAY!! And I was allowed to tag along to the celebration. It was really cool to be able to see the gathering and sing happy birthday. What was funny was that it was so hot that the icing was melting and the cake was falling apart as he blew out the candles; but it still looked delicious!
Gigantic Underground Conspiracy – I had the awesome opportunity to do an interview with Chris Michetti, Ben Baruch, Dominic Lalli, Jeremy Salken, Marc Brownstein, and Araon Magner, and it was hilarious. Again, that imaginary distance that one imagines exists between the artists and fan disappeared and we spent a great deal of time talking as if they weren’t big stars they are; I mean we discussed socks for like 5 minutes! These guys acted like they were brothers, and they were SO funny. I have no words to express how happy I am that I had the chance to meet them and spend some time with them. Please, check out the interview video and see for yourself!
G-Love - G Love is a very cool, very laid back guy. This was the first year we were able to catch his set so it was a little embarrassing going into the interview with him, since I didn’t know much about him. However, he was super awesome and made it very easy for me to get a great interview. His blue eyes are mesmorizing and he really has a great way with words. The story of how his career started is extremely interesting so don’t miss the video!
Kinetix – I was super excited to catch Kinetix for the first time – and they didn’t let me down; they played a great show and afterwards I went up to them and asked them if they didn’t mind doing an interview (make sure to watch it!) and they were so cool about it. The band consists of Adam Lufkin, Eric Blumfield, George Horn, Jordan Linit, and Josh Fairman. Another great group of guys, they were funny and it was a pleasure to meet them. This was their second year at Summer Camp and I hope they keep coming back.
Sun Stereo – I finally got to meet this band, which I have been interested in for a long time. They are locals from Urbana and have a very distinct sound that you have to hear. The main group consists of Kelly McMorris, Josh Houchin, and Jesse Greenlee but they brought some friends to add to the music with trumpets. They were all very sweet and Kelly has a great smile. Don’t miss out; check them out and the interview too!
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.
Well Summer Camp made it happen again. As the Summer Camp Counselor it was my job to be their ambassador for moe.’s run out here in Boulder, Colorado. It’s a tough job but someone has to do it. Of course I say that a little tongue and cheek, but in all honestly the last year has been incredible. Summer Camp has come through time and time again to get some amazing coverage for this blog. Thanks Summer Camp.
After spending a week in New York City for work I couldn’t ask for a better homecoming than two nights of moe. at The Boulder Theater. This two-night run was originally scheduled for the Ogden, but due to the fact that Widespread Panic scheduled their Wood Tour a few doors down at The Fillmore the shows were moved to Boulder. I honestly couldn’t be happier. I love this room and with the update to their sound system it really is a first class Front Range venue. Amy picked me up at the airport, we cruised around town, and had dinner with some old friends before hitting the show.
We arrived at The Boulder Theater around 8 PM and I picked up my photo pass. I was slightly amused when I saw on the guest list that next to my name it said Summer Camp Counselor. I chuckled to myself as I walked in and found a spot Chuck side for the start of the show. I had been waiting for this night for months and it had finally arrived, I was almost giddy. moe. came to the stage and set the night off like a fuse racing towards a stick of dynamite with a crunchy Skrunk. Here is the rest of the setlist from moe.’s facebook page.
SET I: Skrunk, Nebraska, Zed Naught Z, Puebla> Darkness> Brent Black> Queen Of Everything> Brent Black
SET II: Deep This Time, Up On Cripple Creek> Blue Jeans Pizza> (nh) Smoke, Time Ed> George
ENCORE: Queen Of The Rodeo, Downward Facing Dog
Here is the recording from Chuck Miller on Archive – http://www.archive.org/details/moe2012-02-10.M300.
moe. came out of the corner like a punch drunk boxer with something to prove. With this wake up call entitled Skrunk the crowd snapped to attention and started their two-day boogie strong. They settled into the set with Nebraska. This track is one of my favorites from back in the day and I was happy to see it so early in the performance. The crowd was loosely packed, which made it easy for me to maneuver for photos. There was a distinct energy in the room, like everyone who made it to the show was meant to be there. Jim’s vibraphone bounced off the walls for Z0Z nicely and set up what would be the biggest jam of the first set. Puebla, one of the tracks off of What Happened To The La Las, evolved dramatically in a live setting taking on a dark tone, again accented by Jim’s percussion. The sinister sound went deeper with the segue into Darkness. They ended the first set with a massive Brent Black sandwich with Queen Of Everything taking the place of the roast beef. Clocking in at almost a half hour this was by far my highlight of the set one.
They opened up the second set with a brighter Deep This Time with Rob maintaining his stoic expression belting it out properly. Al took the spotlight on an unexpected version of The Band’s Up On Cripple Creek, which stretched well over the ten-minute mark. moe. transitioned beautifully into Blue Jeans Pizza and it was right around this point that I had a modest epiphany. Unlike many of the other jambands in the scene, moe. has never broken up or really even taken an extended hiatus. This is the reason they are perhaps the tightest band in the world of jam. They are all on the same page, and they make it work well, and in their twenty second year of performing live they are honestly sounding better than ever. After another new track off of La Las they gave us perhaps the best Time Ed I’ve ever seen them play. Stretching past the twenty-four minute mark it was one of those instances where they went so deep into the jam I had to ask myself, “Are they still playing Time Ed?” It was the epitome of sickness and only possibly equaled by the twenty plus minute George to close the second set. The end of the show was simply jaw dropping and proof that moe. may be one of the few bands left that truly jams. I mean you have to ask what other band out there in scene plays two songs for forty-five minutes to close a show? They encored with a quick Queen Of The Rodeo before giving us an extended take on Downward Facing Dog.
The whole show came off incredibly well and again reaffirmed my love of moe. They shred and aren’t afraid to really blow the backend out of their songs. I got to chill for a bit backstage after the show and let the boys know that they did Colorado right. I headed back to Fort Collins with a huge grin on my face and serious feeling of anticipation for night two in Boulder.