ALO (photo: Joshua Huver)
On Friday, April 20, roughly 300 inner animals were liberated through music at Moe’s Alley in Santa Cruz.
Animal Liberation Orchestra — guitarist Dan Lebowitz, bassist Steve Adams, and keyboard wizard Zach Gill — recently wrapped their 12th annual Tour D’Amour with a two-night stand at the Fillmore. Friday’s show, a one-off warm-up before the band headlined the Wildflower Music Festival in Chico on April 21, was extra loose and groovy. Usual drummer Dave Brogan, who sat out the tour, continued to let Ezra Lipp fill in on skins.
The show, slated to start at 9, didn’t get rolling until quarter to 10. ALO opened with their 2007 single “Maria” from Roses & Clover. They followed with a light segue into “Cowboys & Chorus Girls,” and Adams took off on a small synthesizer keyboard solo.
A 10-minute “Living in a Plastic Bubble” came next, featuring exciting tandem leads from Adams and Gill. Audience members were ready for the song and released a flurry of soap bubbles throughout the 10-minute tune. Following “Bubble,” Adams took another spotlight moment, opening “The Country Electro” with a bass solo and slow-moving vocals.
The band segued into “The Ticket” with a very Stranger Things-esque keyboard motif. The upbeat energy got the crowd moving the most, and set the stage for a major set-closing one-two punch. At 10:30 and for the next 23 minutes, the band tore through a pair of Grateful Dead covers. Beginning with “Try” and sliding into “Scarlet Begonias,” the room was on fire. Lebo, taking lead on vocals, also incorporated an easter-egg tease of the Beatles’ “Day Tripper” near the end to close the set.
The second set opened 30 minutes later with “Blew Out The Walls,” a track from 2012’s Sounds Like This and the song after which the album is titled. Ten minutes later, ALO welcomed musician Trevor Carey onstage. Playing a variation of a keytar, Carey assisted in a run-through of the Elton John classic “Benny and the Jets.”
Another Roses selection, “All Alone,” followed. Gill picked up a melodica and led the band on a short but sweet Arabian-themed jam. Eleven minutes into the song, Gill proclaimed about the groove that the four were locked into: “I don’t want it to end!” He began teasing “Baba O’Riley” by the Who and took the song into double-time before finally ending the tune at a quarter after midnight.
Following a resonating “I Love Music,” ALO reached back into their catalog to 2005’s Time Expander for “Time is of the Essence.” The band stepped back a few minutes into the tune to give Lipp some room for a gut-busting drum solo before they slinked into a brief cover of Steely Dan’s “Reelin’ in the Years.” They ended the show with “Simple Times” from their 2015 album Tangle of Time.
In honor of the unofficial holiday, ALO returned to the stage for a two-song encore, beginning with “Wasting Time,” featuring Lebo on his pedal steel. The show ended just before 1am with “Lady Loop,” another selection from 2007’s Roses & Clover.