Friday at moe.down
by: Jake Senger
Photos: Jay Blakesberg
Friday, September 3rd, 2010 marked the opening of the eleventh moe.down festival. moe.down is a annual labour day music festival thrown by the band moe. The past ten moe.down’s had all taken place at Snowridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY. This years installment was held in Mohawk, NY at the Gelston Castle Estate. The change in venues had to give it a different feeling for both the band and it’s fans.
We pulled into Gelston Castle around 5:00 pm on Friday to a small lineup of cars. I was rather surprised that it did not take us all that long to park our car. Earlier this summer Further had played at this venue and I had heard many stories of long wait times to park your car. So long in fact that many people missed the beginning of the show and some even turned around and headed home. Next we began the extremely long trek to the campsites.
At the majority of camping music festivals that I have attended you set up your tent beside your parked car. However, at moe.down attendees must walk their camping gear from the parking lot to an open field near the two stages. The distance between the parking lot and the designated camping area at this year’s moe.down was treacherous. It was about a twenty minute walk from our parked car to our camping spot. It took multiple trips to unload all the gear and therefore took us more then an hour to find a spot and get set up. I heard many complaints Friday from people that the walk to camping at this years moe.down was just too far. I would have to agree and think that if moe.down is held at the same site next year, they should have shuttles to help bring the campers gear to the camping area.
The concert field at Gelston Castle holds two stages. The Main stage and a side stage called, the Buzz stage. The concert field is absolutely beautiful with many vendors, beers stands and portable toilets. Both Main stage and Buzz stage are at the bottom of a hill with plenty of room for the fans to watch the shows from the slopped hill. Watching the shows from high up on the hill allows fans to take in the stunning view of Mohawk Valley behind the stage.
The first Main stage act this year was Tortoise at 6:30 pm, Friday night. Tortoise is a five person instrumental rock band from Chicago, Illinois. They were one of my most anticipated sets of the entire weekend and they did not disappoint. Tortoise had two drum kits set up facing each other at the front of the stage. Their drummers really worked well together, pounding out great rhythms. Other instruments on stage included keyboards, guitars, xylophones and a bass. The members would switch instruments depending on the song. The crowd seemed to be really digging them and enjoying their set. Tortoise played some really great electronic grooves and gave the crowd great music to dance to. It was a perfect opening set for what was going to be a great weekend of music. Next up for me was, the musical headliner each night, moe.
I missed The Macpodz and Nas and Damian Marley because I opted to head back to the campsite instead. Back at the campsite I made some food and had a couple drinks with friends. With about fifteen minutes till moe. was supposed to hit the stage a group of us met up at the left side of the soundboard and got ready for moe.’s first set of the weekend. moe. opened their Friday night set with a great version of their instrumental song zoz. Next up were two of moe.s older songs, Time Again and Waiting for the Punchline. The two guitarists, Al Schnier and Chuck Garvey, were both on fire all night long. In my opinion, the highlight of the set was Puebla > George > Brent Black > Akimbo. The jam out of Puebla into George was fantastic. Rob Derhak started playing a great bass riff at about thirteen minutes into Puebla with Al and Chuck picking up on it and adding their own sound to the mix. The jam into George was so tight that it sounded like it could have been a written instrumental trac. Throughout the Puebla > George jam Rob was on playing some great bass grooves with Vinnie Amico and Jim Loughlin holding the rhythm. The crowd was really into the show Friday night with everyone dancing and singing along all night. Even the rain during the show could not put a damper on the crowd.