moe. – Hammerstein Ballroom; New York, NY (1999-04-10)
Any time my camp friends and I would get together in the city we were destined to have a memorable night. It’s a shame no recording exists (that I can find) of the Tim Reynolds Trio show we saw at the Wetlands in ’98 or ’99, because if it did I could tell you all about the time Dan and I were waiting for a cab and a guy who’d just gotten his throat slit stumbled into us begging for help. Instead, I’ll tell you about my first moe. show.
At Jewish overnight camp, all the counselors and older campers listened to hippie jamband crap. When I was eight years old a kid nicknamed “Chile” made me memorize all the words to the Phish song called “Fluff’s Travels” (“Tipsy fuddled boozy groggy elevated prime did edit her. Hellborn elfchild roadhog mountain fortune hunter man beheaded her…”). It was a counselor named Seth who introduced us to moe. when we were 13 years old. And two weeks before my 16th birthday all the kids I went to camp with from Philly carpooled up to Jersey and we went to see moe. at the Hammerstein Ballroom.
Before the show we had a terrible meal at the Skylight Diner on 34th Street. They screwed up everyone’s orders, my friend Jon received six consecutive syrup-less sodas, and at the end of the meal we left roughly a 50-cent tip. It was that bad. To make sure we had a wide enough variety of smokes to last us through the night we had to stop at a nearby smokeshop and buy a pack of those disgusting Backwoods cigars and about dozen packs of cigarettes, cloves and bidis to go along with the eighth of pot my friend David had procured for us.
Banyan opened. I don’t remember their set. I do remember someone in our group saying that we weren’t allowed to start smoking pot until moe. took the stage. Lucky for us, they opened with “Plane Crash,” a song whose refrain includes the phrase “Too fucking high.” David — who had purchased a fancy lighter that could be locked into the on position — lit his shirt on fire by accident during the song, which was probably the highlight of my night. Watching him take a hit from his shitty metal pipe while his flannel shirt pocket became enflamed was amazing.
Having never seen a jamband show before I had no idea that a) it would last so long, and b) there would be so many boring jams at random times during the band’s set. Still, the songs I liked sounded really good (Plane Crash, Nebraska, Stranger Than Fiction) and we had plenty of times to destroy our lungs and enjoy our highs.
As much as I wasn’t into this kind of music, I saw a lot of moe. shows when I was in high school. I saw them at the State Theater in New Brunswick with Matt (where we bumped into friends Vera and Kate), and I saw them in Red Bank at the Count Basie Theater with Eric. Later in 1999 I even saw Phish, which was one of the coolest concert experiences ever not because the music was any good, but because the light show was killer, people would pass drugs from row to row to row all around the stadium, and because the parking lot after the show was like a planet of people trading and selling drugs and liquor. It was insane.
Thanks for bearing with me this week as I’ve been getting nostalgic for the concerts of my youth. And for those of you who call me a “hater” with obscure taste in music, I even wrote positive things about bands like Weezer, Nada Surf and Radiohead. So there. I’m not just a vulgar asshole with a cold, black heart. The last seven posts should make my life as a music fan more clear to you. I used to listen to popular music, now I don’t! Is that so hard to understand!? FOR FUCK’S SAKE!
Hammerstein Ballroom; New York, NY
April 10th, 1999
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02. Plane Crash
04. Blue Eyed Son
06. Waiting For The Punchline
07. Letter Home
08. Recreational Chemistry
09. Drums >
10. Stranger Than Fiction
11. Bring You Down
12. Youdelittle >
13. Rebubula >
15. Bring It Back Home
16. Take The Skinheads Bowling
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