moe. Is Free and Unplugged

On Monday night, Higher Ground opened its doors for a surprising free show from moe. The band has been tour-ing the country promoting their new CD, “The Conch,” released in late January, by playing shows at Borders Books and Music in conjunc-tion with a CD signing. Rumors had been circu-lating for a little over a week that the Buffalo- based jam band, moe., would change their plans of playing a short set at Borders on Church Street during their CD sign-ing, and would instead appear at Higher Ground. Despite the many ru-mors, the band announced the change three days before on their Myspace Web site, while Higher Ground posted the show barely 24 hours be-fore doors opened, both list-ing it as completely free. Reasons for the change in plans are not entirely clear. According to guitarist, Al Schnier, the change occurred because of, “reasons beyond [the band’s] control.” According to The Free Press, “The crowd that turned out for [moe.’s] free show on the Marketplace during the [Magic Hat] Mardi Gras cel-ebration in 2004 stood shoul-der to shoulder,” excessively crowding Church Street and displaying, “that Mardi Gras crunch.” The move to the much larger indoor venue proved to be a wise decision. The crowd took over the floor of the Higher Ground Ballroom long before the show began. After a long wait, the mem-bers of moe. took the stage. What followed was a short acoustic set, including a mix of new songs from “The Conch” and older, well-known favorites, such as the popular “Okayalright.” With guitarists Schnier and Chuck Garvey and bassist Rob Derhak, unplugging for the evening, the band offered the audience a change from their usual electric sound, moving fluidly into a folk-like style. Rhythms of southern rock echoed throughout their tunes, while still retaining their unique sound due to the use of mandolin, bongos and washboard. This was a detour from their jam band sound, but fused the crowd with the same energy found at any moe. show.