Moe. took the stage at Taft on Thursday and did what moe. has done so well for nearly 30 years- members Rob Derhak (bass/vocals), Al Schnier (guitar/vocals), Chuck Garvey (guitar/vocals), Vinnie Amico (drums), and Jim Loughlin (percussion) expertly weaved improvisational jams between songs that transitioned between hard rock, 90s nostalgia, noodle-y jamband tunes, and jazzy numbers for an outstanding first set. Rob, Al, and Chuck passed vocal duties back-and-forth and eventually landed on an extended “Waiting for the Punchline,” which allowed each member to put their own spin on the country/bluegrass themed main riff and repeatedly bring the song to soaring peaks before heading into the setbreak to roaring applause.
The first set kicked off at 7:30 sharp which, to be honest, is a trend I could get behind. This allowed for a 30+ minute set break that made time for fans to walk around and catch up with friends, refill drinks, and more. At about 9:30, the lights dimmed and moe. wasted no time reigning the crowd back in with a head. >skrunk> head. sequence that was approximately 30 minutes non-stop music prog rock-esque jamming and didn’t slow down through a back-to-back fan favorite Rise>Silver Sun second set finale. The lighting rigs on stage included a screen and pillars of lights that complimented the band was and was impressively in tune with the band’s frequent stops and transitions that come mid-jam. The jamband stalwarts have an uncanny ability to- through some sort of stage magic/telekinesis- jump out of an improvisational jam and back on to the main riff without any apparent communication, and this extended to the lighting director which resulted in an excellent on-stage production. This was on full display for an encore version of Spaz Medicine that sent everyone smiling into the relatively early downtown Cincinnati night.
A quick look around the crowd would tell the story of moe.’s ability to stay near the top of the jamband scene since the early 90’s, as there were college kids and 60-year-old couples and everyone in between. And with Rob Derhak’s recently successful battle with a form of throat cancer, there was an extra appreciation for the what the group has done, is currently doing, and will hopefully continue to do as the band enters it’s 4th decade.