The Ryan Montbleau Band started off a chilly Sunday with some easy, feel good songs that were as welcome as a hot cup of coffee and then topped it off with a sit in from Al Schnier. Al also stayed around for a sit in with Sister Sparrow and the Dirty Birds on the tune Road Trip before The Brew finished off the Buzz Stage for the weekend with two great sets including covers of Jukebox Hero by Foreigner and No Quarter by Led Zeppelin. On a minor note, while the music from the Buzz Stage matched the quality from the Main Stage, in most cases a smooth transition rarely happened and without any PA music available, the field was often left waiting in awkward silences.
Over on the main stage, it seemed that except for moe. you could have been at a different festival every time the band went on. Tortoise started the weekend with a punk spin on a mix of rock and indie music, while Nas and Damien Marley blew the packed crowd away with their fusion of rap and reggae that most definitely changed those minds that were questioning their place on the festival scene. Saturday morning brought the only bluegrass artists to the stage as the Punch Brothers did a great rendition of The Band’s Ophelia as well a fun original Rye Whiskey that had fans caring little about the rain that came pelting down mid-set. After the afternoon moe. Set and children’s parade, Built to Spill came on with a set that reminded more than a few of the great Neil Young. Night fall brought Lotus who was still able to pull out some amazing grooves especially on their older material.
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals, who replaced Jakob Dylan on the lineup as the opening act on Sunday, were on fire as always with a set included their new hit singles and a cover of Blondie’s Heart of Glass. Always the professional, Grace – who was having a bit of trouble playing her guitar because of her flowing “nightgown” of a dress – just tied it up in a knot and let fans know “This is how we do it in Vermont!”. Fellow Vermonter Mike Gordon’s set was a bit underwhelming, though he did throw in a nod to Phish with his song, Sugar Shack.
The final guest spot of the weekend went to indie rockers, The Black Keys. First taking the stage as a two piece, but soon adding keys and bass they threw down some serious throwback acid blues that had the crowd singing along with hits Tighten Up and Howlin’ For You. While they might be fresh off Lollapalooza and playing for 90,000 people, they didn’t hold back on the moe. crowd (even if it was a wee bit smaller).
As for moe. they played six amazing sets of music as always. Some of the highlights of the weekend were at the end of the second set on Friday night for the dedicated fans who stayed and cheered in the pouring rain. From Captain America to Akimbo there were solid segues that left everyone energized – if not a bit cold and wet – for the weekend. The three sets on Saturday were pretty standard with the annual Kid’s Parade taking place during New York City in the day set as well as a bustout of Radiohead’s Paranoid Android during the second set of the day (first since 2007).
As Sunday night’s temperature dropped, moe. brought things up again with an incredible first set that ended with a Timmy Tucker that had the crowd going wild, even if they were missing Al’s solo. After setbreak they came back for a short second set due to the mayor elections with Moth > Queen of Everything getting the most attention. The encore, however, made up for things at almost an hour long (including Al.nouncements) which ended with a great Farmer Ben jam including three different Rush teases.
While the new venue did bring some changes, it seems that moe.down may have found a new home. From all the thanks given from the stage it seemed that the band was pleased with the new venue and with a few improvements (help for the fans making the long trip from the parking lot to the campsite and more port-o-potties!) it could be a great place for festivals. Like every first year at a venue there was bound to be some bumps in the road and hopefully next year things will run a bit smoother. Overall though moe.down is really just a small family festivals that happened to grow to thousands of friends. Unlike many other festivals, there were no expensive VIP tickets for sale or corporate sponsors with garish advertising. Like Al Schnier said from the stage, we would be throwing this party no matter what, but we’re all glad that you all came to join us!
As an added bonus check out the new Mayor of moe.ville, Rage Lincoln’s Headysburg Address (as read by Rob Derhak):