Tag Archives: moe.

My First Festival: Berkfest 2001

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In the Summer of 2001, I had just graduated high school and had started seeing various jambands locally and was excited to break my festival hymen at the Berkshire Mountain Music Festival.  Since Phish had played it’s last show the Fall before that, I had been spending the early half of 2001 branching out seeing all and any jambands that came to the area.  I had seen Trey Anastasio’s first non-Phish show at the Orpheum in Boston and a week later, saw my first moe. concert at the same venue.  I had also seen Gov’t Mule at Lupo’s in Providence and an aftershow featuring the Psychedelic Breakfast at the Met Cafe next door.  Yet, none of these shows would totally prepare me for my first festival experience.

My brother had gone to the Gathering of the Vibes earlier that summer and he was nice enough to call the house and leave messages on my answering machine of the Disco Biscuits and Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade sets.  Those minute long snippets on my answering machine had me as excited I can be to finally arrive at my first music festival.  Unfortunately,  the day that would happen, we were way behind schedule due to waiting to stockpile various substances, so we got there late on Friday.

We got to the festival grounds as it was getting dark and scampered to find a place in the back of a tent filled field to pitch our own tents.  We could hear Soulive on the main-stage, but duty called and we waited to finish setting everything up before venturing out to see music.  Fortunately for us, our first band we got to actually see was Leftover Salmon’s late-night set in one of the ski lodges.  Now, I did not know that at the time, but since then I’ve grown to find out that Vince Herman of Leftover Salmon is basically the Festival Master General in the jamband scene.  He got us pumped up for the music left to come for the rest of the weekend and supplied us with a late-night hootenanny get down.

Come the morning and the sunlight, I finally got to see the seedy underbelly that belied Berkfest.  Now Berkfest was put on by Gamelan Productions, the same company that brought us High-Sierra Music Festival, but if there are two things in common between these festivals, its that they are festivals and they have absolutely nothing else in common.  I made my way out to “Shakedown Street” to hear nothing but nitrous tanks running every hour of the day, people selling bags of cocaine out in the open, and even a camping area we affectionately referred to as the Heroin Woods.  People openly doing cocaine, heroin, and other drugs like “dust” was completely foreign to me.  Usually you had to do that kinda stuff on the down low, but not at Berkfest.  There were cops there, but honestly they didn’t do a damn thing so long as you didn’t get in the way of their horses.  I even saw someone I had met at a post-party for that summer’s Trey Anastasio Band show smashed over the head with a Captain Morgan bottle, but come to find out he was found stealing stuff from someone’s tent, so hippy martial law came into affect.

Now back to the music.  Luckily a friend of ours had his tent set up at the very top of the hill where the stage was at the very bottom.  So we mostly spent our afternoons, chilling out by our friend’s tent listening to the bands way down below.  This is essentially how I listened to my first Sound Tribe Sector Nine,  Spearhead and Yonder Mountain String Band sets.  I would make my way down the hill for various sets throughout the weekend including Strangefolk, The Word and Robert Randolph’s Family Band.  Occasionally we would make our way into the ski lodges to see sets from bands like the Psychedelic Breakfast and the Slip.

The highlight of the weekend was moe.’s 3 hour set on Saturday night.  We had set ourselves up a couple heads away from the stage during Strangefolk’s set and found a group of other moe.rons to get mentally ready for the headlining set with.  moe. took the stage and the mountainside seemed to be at capacity.  They led us off with a Plane Crash to get the crowd riled up, what would follow would end up being one of my favorite festival sets from any band, ever.  They were all business that night and didn’t stop for what seemed like forever.  Actually, the second half of the set consisted of a 4 song Moth sandwich that took over an hour and a half for them to finish.  By the time they had finished, I was dead tired, so we and our new moe. fan friends headed back to camp where we joked and consumed various goodies for the remainder of the night.

The highlight of Sunday’s lineup was Les Claypool’s Frog Brigade’s headlining set.  He came out in a giant green monster costume that had been patrolling festival grounds all weekend urging fans to clean up after themselves.  His set was they typical 2001 Claypool set starting with Thela Hun Ginjeet and including favorites like Highball with the Devil and covers like David Bowie’s Space Oddity and the B-52’s Planet Claire.  As the Berkfest Allstar Jam started(which included John Medseki and various other well known musicians): we packed up camp and made a run for it, so we could sleep cleanly and dry in our own bed’s that night, but forever that festival would leave a huge impact on me.

Berkfest only lasted a couple more years before being shut down by locals who complained of the seedy environment it brought.  They were right, even as an attendee, Berkfest could be a scary place, but the music made that all better.  It was a year before Bonnaroo started and didn’t have any giant sponsors, but the fans still came out in droves and the annual music lineups there were always top notch.  It certainly wasn’t for the weak at heart and the event t-shirt calling it “Berkfest of Champions” was more true than the designer probably assumed.  If you could survive that August weekend in the Berkshire Mountains, you truly were a champion.

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Since, its already mid January and I haven’t blogged yet this year, I’m gonna start off with my list of favorite concerts of 2011.  Simple enough.

#5 Phish- Great Woods, Mansfield MA

#4 Kermit Ruffins and the Barbecue Swingers- The Spot, Providence RI

#3 moe.- Lowell MA

#2 The Breakfast- Daniel Street (Founghoulish Freakout XII), Millford CT

#1 Erasure- House of Blues, Boston MA

This makes it two consecutive years that a foreign act(and 3 of the past 5) has taken top place.  The other two being Air in 2010 and Daft Punk in 2007.

moe. Summer Tour ’11(Newport and Lowell)

Eastern New England was double lucky this year as moe. announced two shows about a week apart from each other in Newport and Lowell respectively.  Seeing as the only times I see them these days are when they come to me, I was happy to get 2 shows within an hour drive.

First up, Newport.  Now, I’m fairly local, and its pretty much protocol to get sloppy drunk whenever I go to Newport and last Thursday night (7/14) was no different.  We got to town early and took up stools at a local Irish Pub for some drinks and seafood.  We sucked down a few oysters while meeting up with a handful of friends before heading down to the Yachting Center for the show.

The Yachting Center is basically a large tent that was on the opposite side of the Wharf from where we were stationed.  We got to the venue and grabbed a quick round of drinks before heading in and settling in the front row, al.side.

Set 1 was fairly short and to the point as it clocked in at roughly fifty-five minutes.  It was a nice touch in the second spot and the Bearsong > George was just enough to leave us wanting more.  Setbreak was spent at the end of the pier chit chatting with various moe.rons and taking in the air.  The second set started off much stronger with the drum intro to Water.  The segues into Hector’s Pillow and Spaz Medicine were to the point, but it made for a nice combo of tunes.  Blue Eyed Son was a nice dustoff to keep everyone’s feet moving for a few minutes.

The highlight of the show was the Captain America into Mexico which featured a strong jam between the two.  Once it became apparent it was going towards Mexico, I became delighted as I was shouting for it most the show(a not unpopular pastime of mine).  Al seemed to be leading the band most the night and showed that off especially during Bearsong and Mexico.  When the opening notes to Lazarus came, I took a break from the pit and moved back outside of the tent to feel the wind for a bit.  The set ended and left most of us unfulfilled, so the Plane Crash encore was a nice touch.  We knew they were working on a tight schedule and managed to give us just enough to hold us over for the night.  Overall it was your average ‘feelgood’ moe. show.  Nothing too crazy, but enough high points to make it worthwhile(especially in set two).

Now Lowell on the other hand is a city nothing like Newport at all.  It is lined by big brick buildings and there are nary any spots of grass in the downtown area.  Low and behold, behind the high school laid a pristine area for seeing a concert.  A grassy knoll so to speak with trees for shade and raised levels made for a perfect moe. viewing experience.  This night, I was not so drunk and took a more lucid approach at the festivities of the evening.

This show was a lot more even to me.  Second Bearsong in as many shows was a welcome event for me.   After Where Does the Time Go, they transformed their way into a Rebubula-ish zone before Rob and Jim took it to the Dr. Graffenberg zone.  Any set that includes both Bearsong and Dr. Graf is a good sign to me.  Setbreak was spent mixing drinks on the lawn and meeting some neighbors in the lower Chuck zone.

Opium was a welcome surprise to me.  It gets a bad wrap for being a slower moe.tune, but its nice to hear Rob wail and see Chuck show off his slide skills.  Threw It All Away brought back that old school vibe of Graf and Bear in the first set.  Tambourine and Downward Facing Dog each showed off more slidework from Chuck.  The drop from Hi and Lo to Timmy Tucker was the highlight of the night.  The segue itself was nothing too tricky, but Rob drove home the intro, slapping the shit out of his bass every step of the way.  Like this was an A+ Timmy Intro for what its worth, the Chuck solo seemed a tad short, but I didn’t mind since we got a full on drive it on home Al solo in its absence.  Its rare I see a Timmy lately where Al’s solo takes precedence over Chuck’s, but it was greatly appreciated.

The encore was solid.  Not as exciting as the Plane Crash a week earlier, but the Pit was very well played.  Just a tad awkward to see the show end on a vocal ending, maybe they could’ve flip flopped the two and it would’ve been a bit smoother.  Overall Lowell was a good to great show.  Good if you don’t like Opium or Tambourine and great if you do.

I met a lot of good people last night which was nice to see so many new and smiling faces out on the scene.  Hopefully Chuck lost the Panama Jack hat he was wearing last night before getting into Vibes, because he looked pretty dorky in it, but besides that everyone in the band played well with Al taking home MVP honors in Newport and Rob getting the nod in Lowell.  See you all at moe.down.

Summer Festival Guide- GOTV Saturday:

Is this not the best day of music ever conceived?  If you could only go to 1 day of 1 festival this year, you better find a hard lineup to beat this bad boy.

Juana's Addictione!

let’s look at the tale of the tape courtesy of http://www.gatheringofthevibes.com:

A long day of good music capped off by Deep Banana Blackout, moe., Elvis Costello and the Imposters and Jane’s Addiction.  What’s not to love about that?  Even the McLovins are getting in on the action.  Not to mention Tea Leaf Green, The Assembly of Dust for all you Reid heads, and Perpetual Groove latenight.  It’s like a never ending barrage of top shelf music.  Time to break it down a little  more for the uninitiated:

Deep Banana Blackout- New England funk mainstays are still kicking around the jams and with Jen Durkin on pipes, they’re always a welcome attraction.

If you were a Northeast jamband fan of the late 90’s, you know damn well Deep Banana Blackout can bring the funk like very few to come after them, and let’s face it, Jen was the original female voice of a budding scene.  Speaking of voices:

The Assembly of Dust– another New England legend in the scene, Reid Genauer guides this band with his soulful voice.  Original lead singer of Strangefolk, his path has been long and arduous, but he still shines when you put a mic in front of him.

Seriously, anyone who lives North of Jersey(I know you Jersey kids love him too) knows well enough that Reid = music.  That soul boy has been at it for a while and never lets you down.  Also look forward to interplay between the Assembly and their old friends:

moe.– When moe. is the #3 billed act of the night, you know you’re in for something good, and this is the perfect lineup to push them into playing a dirty set.

They decided to hit up Vibes and All Good this summer, which isn’t surprising since they’ve been on plenty of Vibes and All Good lineups in the past, but something feels extra special about it this time.

The rest of the lineup speaks for itself.  If you aren’t familiar with Jane’s Addiction or Elvis Costello, get out from under that rock you’re living beneath.  As far as the McLovins, P Groove and TLG are concerned, consider that afternoon and evening your chance to get better acquainted with them.  It will be an enjoyable experience to say the least.

My take on the moe.down lineup:

your hosts for the weekend.

Earlier this week, the good people over at moe.org decided to slowly release the initial lineup via facebook updates every hour on the hour on their facebook page, http://www.facebook.com/moe.downmusicfestival.   For the inundated, moe.down is held every Labor Day weekend in beautiful Upstate New York.  Now let’s take a peak at what we have in store for us:

#1. Rubblebucket

I’ve heard mixed reviews about their live shows, but based on the video, it looks like a nice change from the normal standard fare of moe.down’s past.  This looks like it would be a great late afternoon set to get everyone warmed up for the main event.

#2. Empire Sound

http://www.facebook.com/pages/Empire-Sound/125186740866826

Empire sound is a moe. side project featuring Al and Jim along with Drew Belavia, Sam Kinniger, Kirk Juhas and Corey Colmey.  Now personally, I love all things Al, so this should be right up my alley, but this band lineup reads like a who’s who of veteran jamband musicians, and the style of music they profess to play seems to be highly dance-able funk fusion.  This might be the sleeper set of the weekend overall.

#3. Railroad Earth

moe.down always has a token bluegrass band and seeing as they recently played snoe.down, this seems like a fitting addition.  I first saw Railroad Earth way back in 2001 and was always impressed with them.  Should make for a good afternoon set to loosen up the ol’ joints to.

#4. Levon Helm Band (special guest TBA)

Now, what really sets this set apart is the special guest to be announced.  Whoever it may be might push this set way over the edge, but as it stands it’s still Levon Helm.  The guy is a legend and as long as he can still perform, he will always be a welcome addition to the moe.down lineup.  This set would be perfect for Friday night to set the tone for the weekend, or even Sunday night to close moe.down out in style(before the boys of course).

#5. Ween

Finally!  10 years after moe. covered Voodoo Lady at moe.down 2, the pride of New Hope, PA lightened up and decided to join in on the moe.down fun.  This is the perfect lead-in band for moe. on Saturday night.  As anyone who went to moe.down 4 and saw them follow the flaming lips can attest, moe. plays best under the pressure of a great act to follow.

Overall the initial lineup is great from my eyes, but we still have plenty of acts to come.  If I had my way, the following bands would be on the second moe.down announement(whenever that may be):

Deep Banana Blackout

Kung Fu

Air

The Polyphonic Spree

The Breakfast

Brothers Past

Give us a good fix of jam, dance and weird and moe.down would be perfect in my opinion.  There’s always a couple relatively unknown acts(Nero, Orgone, the Om Trio) in the past that has the power to surprise the moe.down masses and I am looking forward to who it will be this year.

Alright folks, have a good weekend, and see you out in force come summer festival season

For all you summer Phish fans:

BRANCH OUT!  I know you guys wait all year for their schedule to be announced, and then stock up on as many tickets as possible via PTBM and Ticketbastard, well guess what?  There’s other bands out there you can see in the meantime.  So why put all your eggs in one basket when you can spread those eggs and get much more bang for your buck.  Tonight, I will help show you where to spread your jamband dollars.  Here’s my top 3 list of how to get more bang for your buck when it comes to the summer concert series:

#3 The Disco Biscuits

The Undisputed Kings of the jamtronica scene may not have too many solo shows this summer, but they make up for it in the festival department.  They’re starting off their summer, just like last year, with a couple shows in Denver and their one day electronic fest Bisco Inferno at the coveted Red Rocks Ampitheatre.  The main event is in July with their annual Camp Bisco in Mariaville, NY.  This year’s lineup includes Cut Copy, Bassnectar, Yeasayer and a long list more as music runs all day and night for 3 straight days.  Anyone who has been to Camp Bisco can easily dispell all the horror stories and assure you that it is as fun a time as a music festival will grant you.

http://www.discobiscuits.com

#2 The Breakfast

These crafty New England vets leave it all on the stage everynight and remain the best bang for your buck in the jamband scene.  A lot of great small festivals coming up for these guys and a trip to any of them is a guaranteed great time.  Starting off with the Positive Mental Trip Festival in Northville, NY in May, they follow right up with JAM-boree in Ellicottville, NY in June.  Then pulling double duty in July at their very own festival Breakfest in Goshen, NH and ending it on a good note at the Big Up in Ghent, NY.  I was lucky enough to go to Ghent when it was just the Let It Roll festival and it is a beautiful spot to spend the weekend and their lineup is always top notch.

http://www.thebreakfast.org

#1 moe.

Who would I be to leave off these guys?  They really shine in the summer as they lighten up a bit and let it fly.  As usual their summer begins with Summercamp on Memorial Day weekend and ends with moe.down on Labor Day weekend, but the hardest working band in show business isn’t done with that alone.  They’ll also be playing major sets at the All Good Festival and The Gathering of the Vibes.  If that wasn’t enough they have two shows in Virginia in June and shows in Bethlehem, PA, Newport, RI, Asbury Park, NJ and Lowell, MA in July.  There just isn’t any rest for the wicked fivesome led by Chuck “Satan” Garvey.

http://www.moe.org

Well, there you have it folks.  More summertime music to cure your summertime blues.  If you were expecting any other bands to be mentioned, I’m sorry to disappoint, but who knows, maybe I’ll give you more options if those 3 plus Phish isn’t enough to quench your summertime music thirst.

BONUS!  for reading through all that, I grant you the second half of Mooboo’s Voodoo: