moe.'s fifth installment of Warts & All-where they release a show in its entirety-comes to us from February 22‚ 2005 in Des Moines‚ Iowa. It's three discs of raw live music‚ and it's great. But here's what it's really about: a show is supposed to take you on a memorable journey‚ and moe. succeeded on this night. There's an energy that slowly builds throughout the show; jams hit peaks‚ song variation creates valleys. And then the turning point comes when the band plays "Yodelittle." This is where we hit transcendence. A moment like this during a live performance is what the band is striving for‚ and it's why people travel hours on end‚ skipping school or ditching work‚ to see them play multiple nights at a time. They are so on in this jam that no matter where they decide to go or how far out they want to take it‚ everything ends up being right. Chuck Garvey's guitar playing starts the fire-he goes for it‚ and it's over-the-top nasty. When you think they've hit the pinnacle‚ they go further. They land running through the final verse‚ and then settle down into a jam where they all play with equal space. The group improvisation that follows is as equally dark‚ edgy and psychedelic as it is open and funky. They dig deep and it works.
Even if you have little inclination to listen to a rock band improvise and play the shit out of a song for thirty minutes‚ there's still something about five guys catching fire that I think anyone can appreciate. Listening to this jam by moe. makes me think of a basketball team becoming unstoppable in the middle of a game. Or a pitcher throwing a no-hitter. Or having incredibly great sex. You're just in the zone.
When you go out on a limb and refuse to play it safe‚ on some nights you're going to play shit. I'm sure moe. will be the first to attest to how many nights it just doesn't work. But when it does work‚ you get an experience like this in Iowa-certainly worth picking up and playing loud on your next road trip. Warts & All 5 is another friendly reminder from moe. that while trends in music come and go‚ they remain vital.