As a self-proclaimed jam band nerd, I have developed the bad habit of assuming that I know everything there is to know about jam bands and the scene that surrounds them. So it was with full confidence in my jam band intelligence that I went to see moe. (Yes, all lower case, with a period at the end) this past Friday at the Electric Factory, assuming that I was going to see some band stumbling over itself in trying not to sound like Phish. And boy, was I wrong.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with jam bands, a jam band is identified by its habit of taking an average three- to four-minute song and turning it in to a five- to 25-minute song. Ranging in musical styles from bluegrass to electronic, jam bands hold the honor of being music’s worst-kept secret with bands like the Grateful Dead, Phish and Dave Matthews Band developing large and almost cultlike followings while still not being fully recognized by the masses.
Now entering their third decade, moe. has what most would call the typical rock ‘n’ roll sound that is most often associated with jam bands. (Hence my thinking of them as a younger Phish.) Consisting of five members, moe. is able to produce a unique sound thanks in large to Jim Loughlin, the band’s percussionist, who wields, among other things, various drums, a miniboard and most notably a xylophone. When combined with guitarists Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, bassist Rob Derhak and drummer Vinnie Amico, they are able to produce some the best rock music being played today.
Having not played Philadelphia for over four years, moe. had a lot of jamming to make up for. Starting off slow, the show began to pick up in speed and intensity after an amazing cover of the Blue Oyster Cult classic “Godzilla.” The highlight of the show came in the second set, during the song “Meat,” in the form of an amazing xylophone jam, a jam that was so good that it begs the question, “Why are there not more xylophones in music these days?” From there the band continued to melt the faces of the audiences, culminating in an incredible tease of the Jimi Hendrix song “Voodoo Chile” before going into an awesome version of “Moth.”
Though they may be a jam band, moe. is certainly a group worth the attention of anybody who claims to love rock music and likes going to see live shows. Hopefully we won’t have to wait until 2016 to see them again.