On April 23rd, 1997 I saw moe. for the first time. The show was at Zaphod’s, a small bar in downtown Ottawa. I had been hearing that this was the new jamband-on-the-scene for a while, and though I was unimpressed with their debut album I wasn’t about to take a chance on missing this show.
I have often kicked myself for ignoring the advice of a good friend (twice) which resulted in me missing out on an up-and-coming band called Phish playing at Montreal’s Spectrum in 1993 and at Metropolis the following spring.
And here it was, a mere three years after that last skipped Phish bar show so like I say, I wasn’t going to miss this moe. set, even if it was at my least-favourite local venue.
Most of my friends were at the show; together we made up the bulk of the clientele in the half-full bar. I found myself pretty bored from the outset so I lurked around the meagre merch table and schmoozed with moe.’s road manager. I pushed a copy of my band’s recently-released cassette on him and after a while I even went out to my van to fetch him one of our spanking-new Bob Loblaw t-shirts.
When I came back to the bar moe. was actually starting to tear it up pretty good. I handed the t-shirt to the road guy and started to pay more attention to the band. It seemed like these guys could really get going once they got going, which made the bar’s 11pm band cut-off time even more annoying than usual. As a matter of fact, a quick glance at moe.’s setlists from this tour suggests that this was probably the only one-set show of the run. Jambands tend to play about twice as long as regular bar bands and it sucks when they’re not given the time they need to get their groove on.
And while I never really become much of a fan of the band I am glad I went to this show – the last half of the set was probably the best I’ve seen the band play (aside from set two, night two of moe.down 4 in Turin, NY).
Plus I heard that guitarist Al Schnier wore a squeaky-clean Bob Loblaw t-shirt onstage at their gig the following night in Montreal, which is pretty cool.