by Mary Willson
Fans of moe. can finally rest easy and head up the Poudre Canyon this concert season, as the jam-band is returning to Mishawaka after 10 years.
There are few places on this earth where nature and live music come together as seamlessly as it does at the Mishawaka Ampitheater, where the moon illuminates the river as it winds its way past the stage, deep in the heart of the Rocky Mountain National Forest. Its main Colorado competitor for beautiful outdoor amphitheaters is Red Rocks, 99.15 miles to its south.
While Red Rocks is more well-known on the national range, the average Coloradoan fan will make it to both venues over the summer (hopefully more than once).
Although, artists will not. If they are offered a spot in the Red Rocks lineup, they go for it, leaving the younger brother stage out of the tour. moe., the New York based band that has played with The Who, Dave Mathews Band, the Allman Brothers and more, is a perfect example of this.
“As great as Red Rocks is, the Mish is like a back yard party,” said Vinnie Amico, moe.’s drummer.
This year, the progressive rock band is heading back to the smaller-sister outdoor venue for the first time since 2004, after performing at Red Rocks four times.
“Red Rocks is the dream come true, you have really made it,” said Amico. “But there is something to say about the intimacy of Mishawaka and getting closer with the fans.”
Scott Morrill, one of the four new bookers hired on to Mishawaka this season snagged the band as he was booking for the LoHi Festival, the day after, which they are headlining. He is the owner of Cervantes Masterpiece in Denver.
“Part of my job is to add on dates to the Mish, and since they are going to focus on LoHi [festival] and not Red Rocks, it made sense,” said Morrill. “We got lucky that they decided that LoHi was far enough away.”
moe. was on the bill at Red Rocks with Gov’t Mule in 2005, Umphreys Mcgee in 2006, Leftover Salmon in 2007 and most recent, with Blues Traveler in 2013.
The band has had a two night stint at the Ogden in both 2012 and 2013. It’s clear that Colorado can draw a crowd for the band.
Playing Red Rocks is a sign that a band has “made it”, sharing a stage and opening up for legendary bands such as the ones moe. has but headlining a Denver festival and drawing thousands to a show as the headliner has to feel equally successful.
The June 13 Mishawaka show comes just after the May 27 No Guts, No Glory album release. moe. has released 24 studio albums since their formation in 1989, the last one being What Happened to the La La’s in 2012. While their fans can be stoked for the new music on the album, the band is more melancholy about the experience.
“It’s always good for us to put out albums, but the music industry has changed,” said Amico. “You used to put out an album, and then tour. We never did that. We just tour and put out albums between, but because we pay for the albums ourselves and people don’t buy a lot of albums, it ends up being more of an expense. But of course, you have to do it.”
He explains that the band has been trying to stay on the cutting edge of technology, getting live albums out digitally on USB drives after shows and uploading them online for download.
“We’re old school,” said Amico. “We still want to produce records. We want people to have a momentum of moe. at that time.”
Amico has a teenage daughter, and at 17 she takes after him and is into vinyl and old school music.
“She’s at a point in her age where she starts getting more into her friends so she tries to promote by telling her friends about it,” he says after explaining its hard to see his daughters generation exposed to radio “top 40” music and little else. “But they’ve been brought up in this thing, moe. If you go to her schools theres a lot of teachers into moe.”
When a band has been in existence for longer than the members children, a certain bond is held between the family with the band. Amico’s oldest daughter is going off to college next year and he reflects that this may be her last moe.down festival. The festival is in it’s 15th year, and is held in the bands home state, at Snow Ridge Ski Resort in Turin, NY. “It’s something that the kids were born into. It will be a passing of the torch.”
Unfortunately, the drummers family won’t be along for the summer tour, encompassing 30 shows, 14 states and four countries.
“[moe.] is still one of those bands thats not scared to play a 20 minute song,” Morrill said. “They are amazing musicians, and they have so many great songs, so many great jams.” LoHi capacity is around 3000, which is larger than the Mishawaka. Although on open street, the atmosphere couldn’t be more further away than the Mishawaka.
The new moe. album is a real authentic record. The band was set out to make an acoustic album, but when they turned the producing over to a friend, they all decided to give fans what they want, which was a real funky record.
The 10 year dry spell is over for the Mishawaka, and the fans, the band, the venue and probably even the Colorado mountains couldn’t be more ready.
“It’s beautiful out there as everyone knows. moe. loves going out there as everyone knows. There’s a lot of people who are hip to the music scene out there,” Amico said referring to their return to the Front Range. “All i want to say is come out and rage with us!”
The Mishawaka moe. show is on June 13. Tickets are $40 advanced, $45 day of show, and $50 VIP. Get them at mishawaka.ticketforce.com.
LoHi festival is on June 14. Tickets are $34 for the festival, $49 for the festival and after party at Cervantes. Get tickets at lohimusicfestival.com.