Christmas came early for Western New York jam band fanatics.
For the first time in Thursday at the Square history, the full four-hour time slot was dedicated to the Buffalo born and bred moe., and a completely packed square proved the band was worthy of the honor.
"moe. is one of those unbelievable bands that cannot only command an audience for that long, but also play for that long," said Steve Josephs, manager of marketing for Buffalo Place. "They're just an outstanding group of musicians, and giving them only a 90-minute time slot wouldn't do them justice."
Instead, the popular pop/rock/funk band played two sets that lasted nearly two and a half hours each. Taking the stage to screams and song requests, moe. took no time reminding the audience of who they were: a complete jam band.
For roughly 20 minutes, the band tested almost every musical genre. Going from relaxing, funked-out reggae one minute to full-out guitar-driven rock 'n' roll the next, the men of moe. aren't afraid to experiment, which is ultimately what makes their sound so unique.
Unlike other bands, the vocals aren't the focus of the songs, and they aren't the band's strongest suit. As Thursday proved, their appeal, especially in live shows, is their ability to feel, breathe and transform every note and every beat into a connected masterpiece.
As they performed songs like "The Ghost of Ralph's Mom," "Bring It Back Home," and the newer "Shoot First," it was clear why this band, created by University at Buffalo students 16 years ago, has such a following.
The chemistry that the five members have together on stage can't be imitated; the sound is so full and polished that at times it's hard to believe they are the only ones behind every loud and powerful jam piece.
Whether it was the guitarists cranking out five-minute solos or the drummer tapping out beats on a bongo drum, these five members truly seemed to feel the music and enjoy entertaining.
As a result, time and live shows like these have only increased moe.'s popularity with audiences and furthered their reputation as extremely talented and dedicated musicians.
The group's hometown ties bring a crowd like no other; the band naturally attracts flocks of eager UB alums, but also current college students, families and, quite frankly, any Western New Yorker with a hunger for an amazing jam band.
By the end of the night, the square monument was full of wriggling bodies as interpretive dancers could be found enjoying the never-ending instrumental pieces. It was as if the band had somehow transferred their musical spontaneity into the bodies of its fans.
"We have a very dedicated fan base that's in it for the long haul, that's in it for the music," the band writes on its Web site. "We've never had much of a traveling circus. Somehow our tours have a much different feel."
All that could be felt Thursday night was love.
WHEN: Thursday night
WHERE: Lafayette Square