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CONCERT REVIEW

moe.

Lowercase and with a period does not a band make

By Joel Rosenberg
ARTS EDITOR

April 9, 1999

Avalon Ballroom

1: drumz > St. Augustine, Time Again, Spine Of A Dog, Spaz Medicine, Meat

2: Timmy Tucker, Head* > Moth, Time Ed

E: Buster

* With “Mexico” tease.

Got a call last week from moe.’s publicist asking me to cover the show at Avalon last Friday. When I requested the complementary “plus one” on concert tickets, he told me he couldn’t do it, but that tickets would only be $10. I figured I’d go and split the cost with a friend. I had seen moe. before at the Paradise and hadn’t been all that impressed. But that was the night the Paradise got a new sound system, which pushed the start time back about an hour, and during the show one of the speakers caught fire. After the extinguisher filled the room with a white haze, moe. came back with Jimi’s “Fire,” altered to “Let me stand next to your speaker fire.” I was willing to give them another shot.

Three friends wanted to go see the show, which started at 7p.m. (“In by 7, out by 10” the publicist had told me), but one was late getting home, and we ended up not getting there until around 8. I went in through the guest list door, while my friends paid for their tickets--$15. Looking at the press release they faxed to me in March, the advance and door ticket prices are the same: TBA. Apparently the publicist wasn’t the final announcer.

Avalon was packed, which is really a lot of people. We got into moe.’s groove, but only for a few minutes, since we had missed most of the first set. I reserved judgement, and spent set break looking around at the crowd and funky poetry scrawled on the walls. A friend returned from the bar as the second set was starting, and as one of moe. (not sure who) started telling a story, my friend also started telling a story about a drunk girl at the bar who asked the Barbie-esque bartender for a “full” beer, since her 12-ounce plastic cup wasn’t topped off. The bartender gave the girl a look, went to the box of empty bottles, took one out and examined it, and dumped the lingering drop into the girl’s cup. My friend then paid a ridiculous $5.75 for a drink.

Figuring I’d ask someone for moe.’s story after the show, or get it off their web site or something, I just started listening to the music. After about an hour of repetitive jamming interrupted by annoying vocals, we were all bored. Following the encore (2.5 hours of playing gets you an encore), one of moe. (not sure who) announced that there were tickets available for the Saturday night show at Hammerstein in New York City, and invited us down. Opening the next night were Banyan, featuring Stephen Perkins from Jane’s Addiction and Rob Wasserman from Rat Dog. “They’ll probably be better than moe.,” I said during one of those momentary lapses of sound. I was right in front of several professional-quality tape recorders, as proliferate these kinds of shows, so there will be moe. tapes out there (probably not heavily traded) that speak ill of moe..

These guys are trying to be Phish when Phish isn’t being Phish, and taking advantage of the people who really just want to see Phish. Perhaps that’s harsh, but kids get jacked for dollars from the really good bands, and don’t need the imitators jacking them too. After overcharging, moe. played longer than they have the skills to keep interesting, which was listened to out of financial obligation. There are plenty of “jam bands” more worthy of your time and money.

I never did get that story, and the setlist, which I got from http://www.moelinks.com, is above, though to me it just sounded like one long song. On the way home I noticed that my over-21 wristband said “Party smart.” I felt stupid for partying expensively, which doesn’t seem like it’s going to let up. If you shell out $150 for Woodstock ’99, you might have a chance to see moe., since moelinks reports they’ll be playing. Maybe their publicist can get me in.