By, Daryl Mintz
Last Wednesday I had the chance to be the guy I never wanted to be: the older guy at the concert in a suit who looks like he wondered into the wrong building on his way home from work. But when the record release party for one of my favorite bands, moe., happened to take place right after Sesame Workshop’s annual benefit dinner, the perfect storm had begun. And when the lawyer for one our partners who was also attending the dinner wanted to go, there was no turning back. So minutes after the Muppets finished a rousing rendition of “Sing”, we were in a cab headed over to Stage 48. Stage 48 is a new venue just east of the West Side Highway in Hell’s Kitchen at 48th street (hence the name). While newer venues like the Best Buy Theater, Brooklyn Bowl and now Stage 48 tend to lack the character of some of the classic NYC venues like the Bowery Ballroom, Mercury Lounge or the Beacon Theatre, they tend to make up for it with better sound systems, lighting and usually, bathrooms. Thankfully there was a coat check, so I was able to shed my suit jacket and tie. moe. had taken the stage about twenty minutes before we got there, so the show was in full swing. After a stop at the bar we muscled our way down to the floor, Al side (as in the side guitarist Al Schnier stands on). Nothing shouts cool like two guys over forty (one actually closer to sixty) in suits pushing their way through a crowd of new and aging hippies. But once I started in with my patented air guitar/jam band groove shuffle, I fit right in.
The first set consisted of songs that spanned moe.’s almost twenty-five year history, including “32 Things,” “Sensory Deprivation Bank” and “Wind It Up.” The finale for the first set was fan favorite “Happy Hour Hero” featuring Allman Brothers and Gov’t Mule guitarist Warren Haynes. As anyone who tracks the jam-band scene knows, having Warren Haynes sit in for a song or two, particularly in NY, is not that uncommon. But it does take the jam up a notch. When my new friend left during the set break I was faced with a decision, leave with him, or stay for the second set by myself. It was not even 11:30pm, and there was plenty more music to go. I stayed. Warren was back with the band to kick-off the second set with a rousing rendition of the Stones’ “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking.” As it was a “record release” party, the rest of the second set covered eight tracks from moe.’s new studio album No Guts, No Glory, ending with the extremely catchy “Blonde Hair and Blue Eyes.” It is always a good sign when you are hearing a bunch of songs for the first time live, and still having a blast. Unfortunately, it was now 1am on a school night, so I wasn’t able to stick around for the encore. I picked up my tie and headed home.