moe. Halloween Night
Halloween – October 31, 2015 – The Fillmore – Philly
By Barry Brandow • Photos by Paul Citone
Let me start this article by saying I am a 52-year-old man that has been going to see concerts since I was 14. (KISS at the Spectrum 1976) If you do the math that is 39 Halloweens and over 1000 shows ago. To this day, 10/31/2015, I have NEVER been to a Halloween show. When I told my 23-year-old son this he couldn’t believe it either. So, when one of my favorite current bands, moe., announced that they were playing on Halloween in Philadelphia, and the show was going to be at the brand new concert venue in town, The Fillmore (which I’ll talk about later) it was an absolute no-brainer that I attend. After all moe. was the first band I ever saw play on New Year’s Eve in 2008 at Radio City Music Hall. Add on to this that I am a quazi-Star Wars geek, which was chosen to be the theme for the evenings show. While several other of my favorite bands announced shows and events for this night, my plans never changed.
Once tickets were purchased my thought changed to costume: what would I wear? I found really sweet Yoda ears for starters, and then a really cool pimp suit to accompany the look. “Pimp Yoda” was born and ready for the show! The 30 minute ride to The Fillmore became an adventure as several other drivers would look, point, and sometimes laugh at my interesting attire. I loved it! I even made a stop at a convenience store for coffee on the way. “Look mommy. That man is wearing a Yoda costume,” said the little boy inside the store. “Stay with mommy” she replied.
Yeah, I suppose I looked a little unusual to say the least. Even on Halloween. Remember: I’m 52 and dressed like a pimp wearing Yoda ears!
When we arrived at the venue there were several people tailgating and getting in line for the show. Most dressed in Star Wars related costumes. There were Ewoks, Yodas, Wookies, Stormtroopers, Darth Vaders, Luke Skywalkers, and several Princess Leia’s, some of which were dudes. This was all quite entertaining and I fit right in.
As I entered the Fillmore there were several Star Wars related fixtures throughout the lobby and bar area, all making for great photo opportunities. On the show floor and stage area was a giant lighted X-wing Fighter and Tie Fighter hanging from the rafters looking like they were ready for battle. This was all pretty damn cool, and the show hadn’t even started.
While the sold out crowd filled the show area the houselights dropped and the venue grew dark. The band was also dressed for the occasion. Bass player Rob Derhak as Han Solo, drummer Vinny Amico as Yoda, percussion and mallet cat specialist Jim Loughlin as Luke Skywalker, guitarist Al Schnier as Obi Wan Kenobi, and guitarist Chuck Garvey bravely dressed as C3PO.
After taking their usual places the sound of the live Star Wars theme filled the room as movie related images played on a large round screen above the band. The crowd was going berserk! In true moe. Halloween form the first song out of the box was the lyrically altered version of the song “St. Augustine” affectionately called “Senator Palpatine.” Also keeping with tradition of theme related covers, the Byrds song “Mr. Spaceman” preceded the famous Star Wars “Cantina” music, which was followed by a mind blowing balls-out version of the Frank Zappa classic “Cosmic Debris.” This made Pimp Yoda very happy as I danced with the first Princess Leia I could find. Lucky for me she was a very pretty lady (I’m almost positive.)
It was really cool to see actual clips from the original movie on the screen as well and see where they related to the songs that were playing. A good example of that was the song “Shoot First” that was altered to “Han Shoots First,” during which we got to relive the bar scene where Han shoots Greedo. (my fellow geeks are familiar with that, I’m sure)
Just like any moe. show there is never a shortage of blistering solos. Whether its Chuck Garvey or Al Schnier on lead guitar (or on occasion Jim Loughlin on one of his many toys and bells), you’ll get musicianship at its finest. You’re so entranced by what you’re hearing and seeing you don’t realize how much time has elapsed nor do you care. As “Han Shoots First” faded out I was intrigued by the familiar riff that was floating to the surface. My intuition was confirmed as the elongated jam morphed into an old Pink Floyd space jam called “Interstellar Overdrive.” I wasn’t surprised by the song choice because I had heard moe. play this song before on an old Dr. Stans CD. I immediately transformed my pimp cane into an air guitar and started jamming along with the boys.
I didn’t bother putting my pretend instrument away as the song that followed was an altered version of “Moth” called “Hoth.” I wish I had a better memory and could remember the lyrics. All the parodied lyrics were extremely clever and added to the magnitude of fun everyone was having! The first set concluded and the crowd caught its breath. I always love the fans at a moe. show. They are some of the happiest, friendliest music fans in the business that I’ve had the pleasure of rockin’ with during my many years of concert-going. The scene was very reminiscent of the environment I was familiar with at Dead shows. The costumes and atmosphere just added to festive experience.
During the set break I reunited with my wife and friend Janice who had gone up to the balcony where they found seating for the show. Neither were very familiar with the music of moe., but both were having a blast and appreciating the entire production. Not to mention they had bar service provided by the venues awesome staff. After a lengthy break the house light dimmed and the sound of the “Imperial March” filled the venue air. Images and video of LORD VADER graced the screen as the band again took their places on stage.
To begin the set the band broke into another song they played for the first time and dazzled the audience with David Bowies “Ziggy Stardust.” The one original song that wasn’t altered was one of my favorites. The multi-layered original called “Silver Sun” did not disappoint. There were Ewok’s dancing with Stormtroopers, Wookies dancing with Yoda’s, and Princess Leia’s dancing with other Princess Leia’s throughout the Philly Fillmore. The instrumental jam “Jazz Wank” bled into the crowd favorite tune “Buster” and a slightly altered version of “Yoda-little”. To close the second set moe. pleased the crowd with a parody of one of my favorite songs “Plane Crash” with the some of the funniest lyrics of the night poking fun at Mr. George Lucas and his many sequels and prequels. The chorus line “Tell us George, were you too fuckin high” had everyone in hysterics.
The usual moe. show tradition of Mr. Al Schneir announcing the various show milestones and fan birthdays led into the first encore. On a night filled with parodies it was only fitting that one of “Weird Al” Yankovich’s popular offerings “YODA” (parody of the Kinks song “Lola”) was part of this entertaining evening. To bring the night to a close the band played a funky version of the Star Wars theme called “Disco Wars”. It was the perfect way to end a fun filled festive event that was unlike any concert I can ever remember.
As we departed the building and made our way to our car the buzz and reaction from everyone else leaving was that of absolute joy. We all felt as if we were part of something special. I’m sure there were many like myself who wished the night would last much longer. So, I decided not to remove my costume till I got home and made a few stops along the way. The cop who pulled up next to me at the first traffic light did a double look, smiled, then shook his head. The woman at the McDonalds drive-thru laughed her ass off and said for a minute she forgot it was Halloween. In conclusion, it was one of the most fun nights I ever had at a concert and hope to attend more Halloween shows in the future. Who knows, maybe I’ll break out the ‘Pimp Yoda’ costume for the next moe. show even if it isn’t Halloween!
It was also extremely impressed by the newest concert venue in my hometown: The Fillmore. Not only is it a great room for shows, but the atmosphere was amazing. The staff of people that work at the facility were very gracious and most accommodating to the visitors, adding to the awesome experience. I really look forward to seeing many more shows at this impressive concert venue!