What is better than seeing your favorite band play at The Fillmore? Seeing that same band three months later play directly across the street at a venue one-fifth of the size. It was a great August San Francisco evening, as the fog rolled in and the hoodies got zipped up, the crowd shuffled in to the dark red room, feeling the excitement build.
"Thanks for doing this! How did you pull this off?" we got asked dozens of times last night. The day before the show, JamBase circulated an email around explaining the intimacy of the event, with a direct link to buy tickets to see The Disco Biscuits at the Boom Boom Room. The word trickled throughout our tight community of music lovers and without any fanfare, the the room was sold out, and the party was about to begin.
In typical Bisco fashion, the band allowed the room to get settled in, coordinating cocktails and exchange excited glances, before they took over and rocked the Room! A cool intro, the band starts with curtain closed and the lights down, and as the red velvet curtain lifts to reveal the band, our own Andy Gadiel was on stage, trying to contain his obvious energy and excitement as he announced the band in this intimate room. "Ladies and Gentleman, JamBase is proud to present... The Disco Biscuits!"
This show presented the Biscuits with a few opportunities. With an extensive 23 city fall tour about to get going, the Biscuits have written a number of new songs, always keeping it fresh. There is no better place to try something new than in a room filled with friends, the ones who are not afraid to tell you how they really feel. The band opened the show with a relatively new and totally reworked song, "7-11." The relatively light touring schedule has allowed the Biscuits to focus on songwriting and allow these songs to come together more organically, and fall tour will bring about some creative new material for sure. To the casual Biscuit fan, there were five new songs played over the course of the evening, this writer found every one of them to be quite good!
This new arrangement and powerful new jam segment of "7-11" flowed into the end of an ol' fave, "Little Shimmy in a Conga Line." This "Shimmy" was inverted, meaning they jammed into the last verse, and then back into the beginning of the song. Exiting Little Shimmy with perhaps the most creative jam of the first set, the band smoothly segued into an outstanding
"Spacebirdmatingcall," with drummer Sam Altman holding the beat together. Led by Brownstein’s powering bass, the ensuing jam evolved from a quiet introductory jam that peaked on the wings of an absolutely ferocious guitar solo by Jon Gutwillig. Spacebird, with its catchy guitar hook and earth-moving bass tones, quickly turned the few not familiar with the band, into jaw dropping onlookers. An incredible jam that is well worth listening to, if anyone obtains tapes. [Special thoughts go out to taper Marc Federman, who had the DAT and all of his gear stolen from his car after the show. We hope justice prevails.]
In usual tongue-in-cheek fashion, Barber announced that The Disco Biscuits were now a rock band, and trancefusion period was over. The next song was a new number called "Spy," a well-composed Aron Magner tune that had the catchiest chorus refrain that I found myself singing in the shower this morning, "chasing the sun for yet another day." Songs with a great choral refrain over a ripping guitar solo seem to become the triumphant, fist pumping, shin-splint creating songs. Expect this song to get better and stay in the rotation over the course of Fall Tour. From "Spy" it lead into the beat of the Brownstein composition "Floodlights," and the Beastie in Brownie came out, as they delivered this intense number to the the crowd. The chorus ROCKS, you can't help but get pumped up to these lyrics, "And you run for your life, And you hide from the lights as they shine from the sky. When your life's on the line, and you think in your mind, are you ready to die?" The crowd caught the intensity and danced to it, and the band segued from Floodlights into a reprise of "7-11," putting them right back where they started. Nothing like a sandwich from 7-11. Yum.
After a brief cooling down during the set break, the band quickly raised the
temperature again with a flawless "Svenghali" that welcomed everyone to the
second set. This "Svenghali" was outstanding, and the Barber guitar solo was top notch! As good as the setlist ended up, this jam could have been the highlight of the show, it hit such a peak, there were multiple jaws on the ground! After dedicating the Svenghali to a guy who apparently looks like the handsome bassist, the Biscuits tried out a brand new song, "Astronaut" which had elements of beatiful classical composition as well as gritty Bisco funk section, another tune where the chorus has the potential to be another anthem. "Astronaut" lead into what we all wake up looking for, a "Basis For A Day."
Deliver a newbie and then hit us with a classic. Like the beginning of a race, the climb to glory began with the introduction of "Basis for a Day." The band entered the always epic "Basis" with a smooth opening trance jam, highlighted by Magner’s nicely layered keyboard tone within the rest of the band’s existing head-shaking groove. As the heat rose, I guess I got just what I deserved, and they broke into the glorious ending of "Confrontation," which causes shin splints every time I hear it, I can't help but jump up and down - ahhh! At this point, sweat drenched and happy, what could top the beginning of "Basis" and the end of "Confrontation"? In true BiscoB'Gock fashion, the obvious mindfuck was to segue back into the beginning of Confrontation and finish off the highest point, the end of Basis, causing extreme exhaustion from this dancing crew! Yes, you scorecard lovers, it was the beginning of "Basis" into end of "Confrontation" back into beginning of "Confrontation" into the End of "Basis!" There is a definite feeling that when The Biscuits get on stage, they are there to make you move! I have never left a Biscuits show dry.
Another new song closed out the set. "The Tunnel," only in its third performance, is yet another example of the outstanding craftsmanship of the Disco Biscuits, who seem to have no problem penning heartbreaking melodies one after another.
To prove it, they came out to encore with another new trick up their sleeve. What's it going to be? "This next tune is our Motown number," explained Barber. A song tentatively titled "Coat" had people swingin' and swayin' to a 50's groove that was... well, gentle! Are the Biscuits getting older? Could this be maturity approaching? This song was a whole new leaf being turned over, and was flat out a great song! The repeating chorus of "Baby, bring it home" lulled the crowd into smiling from ear to ear! Motown Bisco got probably the largest round of applause of the evening, people could not believe their ears!
A standing ovation kept the boys on stage for one more tune. After getting tired of me yelling "Bernstein and Chasnoff" at every show I've been at in the last four years, they gave the nod and busted out the Bernstein. Now, no one likes to get sued, but I've been waiting to hear this B&C story for almost two years. A great standalone version, not overly lengthy, but enough to have funky Magner licks, signature B-stein basslines, and a gentle keyboard build that turned into the happy, C-major jam that had me and all my closest friends dancing in circles at the front of the stage. All in all, a great evening, and the perfect early birthday present for me! Thanks for a great night, JamBase won't forget it anytime soon.
Next up, Bisco Knights, August 25-26 in Wilmington, Delaware.
Full Fall Tour Dates
With Help From Various Biscographers
Go See Live Bisco!
I: 7-11 > Little Shimmy In A Conga Line (Inverted) > Spacebird, Spy,
Floodlights > 7-11 Reprise
II: Svenghali, Astronaut*, Basis For A Day > Confrontation (Inverted) > Basis For A Day, Tunnel
E: Coat*, Bernstein & Chasnoff
* First time played