“I’m going back to Colorado, I do believe I’ve had enough.” Enough of what? The road? Colorado? Surely not. That statement could not be further from the truth for The Disco Biscuits who returned to Colorado for a three-day run at the Gothic and Fox theatres last weekend. Three weeks into a largely ambiguous tour, the Biscuits stopped back in Colorado after a previous ground breaking run earlier in the summer. Following the Rocky Mountain summer shows the Biscuits played a few more shows sporadically over the country, including opening for Phil and Friends and hosting a two day outdoor event in Delaware with other acts like the New Deal, Lake Trout, The Ally, Robert Randolph, Josh Wink, Prince Paul and select DJ’s spinning.
In the short span of their 6 years as a band, The Disco Biscuits have been one of the hardest working acts on the scene, constantly pushing the envelope to produce a sound that is an ever tightening, virtuoso electronica approach to jamming. Their general sound and composition intertwines a plethora of other genres like jazz, psychedelic rock, classical music and blues that manifest into a unique soulful groove, which can only be described as Bisco. The live magic of a Bisco show is the charted journey into the unknown. By manipulating their setlists they have the power of fusing songs together to produce spectacular jams that move with blissful ambience, mock-one intensity and everything unimaginable in between. “That’s kind of the fun part of being at a Biscuits show, you never know what’s going to happen. We don’t even know what’s going to happen.” The end result is a peacefully invigorating live experience, filled with ecstatically mind-blown, dancing fanatics discharging copious amounts of energy in attempt to balance the energetic output produced by the sound of the Disco Biscuits’ on stage aura.
Besides the fact that I was able to catch a healthy dose of consecutive Biscuits shows during the Colorado run, I was able to sit down with the lead guitarist Jon Gutwillig to ask him a few questions, mainly about what goes into the creation of a Bisco show and his interpretation from an onstage viewpoint. He gave me a lot of interesting answers the most profound of which was his response to my inquiry of whether geography influences their performance to which he claimed “for some reason it does.” He couldn’t have said it any better in consideration of the fact that their presence in Colorado produced three of the most amazing musical experiences I’ve ever endeavored. To give a song-by-song, break down of what happened during the Disco Biscuits three days in Colorado is almost an impossible task. To put into words what the Biscuits pulled off at each show is almost as ludicrous a venture. Each show was noticeably different than the rest, yet undeniably Bisco at it’s best.
"Magellan" opened the first show and cast us away into three days of unadulterated bliss. The first night was full of beautiful and surprising jams that left me in awe from the get go. A few jams from the first evening stuck out in my wonder-struck mind such as the "Svenghali" into a prematurely inverted "Overture" back into "Svenghali." The second set opened with an absolutely raging rendition of Jane’s Addiction’s "Three Days" and escalated as they fused a number of songs together beginning and ending with their reworked version of "7-11." The set climaxed in what I thought was one of the most gorgeous jams I’ve heard them play out of "Confrontation." I overheard someone refer to it as “the music they play while waiting at the gates of heaven.” The Disco Biscuits proceeded to encore the show with "Home Again" to assure the crowd that the night was not a figment of their imaginations, but that the band was actually back in town to tear it up.
Night two maintained the momentum as the Biscuits headed to Boulder to play the first of two nights at the Fox Theatre. With the venue packed to the brim on a Saturday night, the energy was off the hook. The band responded with a ridiculous night of serious trance-fusion. The first set housed an amazingly unyielding "Jigsaw Earth." From then on the sinister, psychedelic funk of "Spaga" exploded into an intense version of a newer song "Astronaut" to blow up the end of the set. Set two was an unparalleled example of The Disco Biscuits’ ability to control their setlists and produce an hour and a half of solid jamming intertwined with ripping composition as a launch pad for improvisation.
The setlist itself is ample cause for drooling, but what was what physically manifested had me on the edge of my seat, despite the fact that I was on my feet boogying as hard as humanly possible. "Reactor" > "and the Ladies were the rest of the Night" > "Crickets" > "I-Man" > "Crickets" > "Run Like Hell" > "Reactor." Meticulously executed, the set can only be described as severely impressive. The six segues were all unique in there own right but each one explored musical landscapes on every imaginable plateau, from head spinning trance to passionate climaxes in which the entire band was essentially soloing as a whole. After the seriousness of the second set the band decided to get silly and encore with a fun version of "Jamilia." Even Gutwillig himself admitted “that’s basically the vibe at our shows now is that we just party.” And the Biscuits threw down one of the sickest parties I’ve attended which left me itching for round three.
Night three promptly took off soaring with "Helicopters." The venue was bouncing right off the bat as the Biscuits’ tore through three several segues involving a skull spinning rendition of Frank Zappa’s "Pygmy Twylyte." The first set ended with a patient jam into "Basis for a Day," which peaked upon its numerous composed sections, segued into "Spy" and twirled back into the end of "Basis for a Day" to close the set. The energy in the theatre was through the roof as the band regained their positions on stage. What would follow is without a doubt the most intense, surprising and almost comically entertaining sets I’ve seen the Biscuits perform. After two solid set openers the Biscuits played "Little Shimmy in a Congo Line." The jam out of this tune was ambient, fluffy trance with an extended vocal jam that induced the sensation of struggling to wake up in the morning as they mumbled various anecdotes such as riding the snooze bar. Kooky Bisco at it’s best. [The final lyrical line of this song says, "And I wonder why I sleep through my alarm."]
As the jam slipped out of its drowsy trance groove it climbed steadily to climax into an overwhelming "Munchkin Invasion." The energy formed in the last jam flowed over into the next four segue run starting with "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." This rocked out version had an unexpected, heavy, Frank Zappa style rendition of Hendrix’s "Purple Haze" sandwiched into the outbound jam that surprised both the band and audience alike. The vigor of the jam back into "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." was simply absurd. Teasing and toying with "Purple Haze" once again in the second jam the Biscuits headed into a hilariously tight version of "Bernstein and Chasnoff," which included blatant teases of the Muppet Show theme and the soundtrack to Nintendo’s Mario Kart. It seemed at this point that the band was having more fun than the crowd, which from my viewpoint in the audience seemed almost impossible. Upon completion of the final chords the band took their bows and left the stage for a few moments before returning to encore and bid Colorado goodbye. "Frog Legs" could not have been a more suitable farewell, and the jam harnessed the whole on goings of the weekend and manifested into a tight, concise, journey that ended with a screeching halt and left the audience dumb struck, itching for more, yet clearly satisfied. “Jackpot! I got the deal for the meal of the century.” And the Biscuits served up a mean dish. They served up a three-course meal that left me stuffed to the brim with the capacity of being supersaturated.
I spent the next few days with intensely futuristic, jazzy, electronic melodies running through my overloaded head. I caught myself on numerous occasions drumming along or playing air guitar to nothing but memories. Sweet vague memories of intertwined grooves that had been permanently engrained in my mind. Emotionally confused myself, I found it interesting to hear Jon Gutwillig’s perspective on what he felt was the best part of the live experience since I am obviously fanatically biased. One thing he mentioned certainly hit home in terms of what I tend to find is the highlight of the Bisco experience.
“Sometimes we just freak out and lose it, and if we can catch that freak out, it’s usually the coolest thing ever... beyond your own playing ability. Putting the chaos back together is a very euphoric experience.”
While this is substantially less noticeable from the dance floor as it is to the musician, it has been something I have always admired about The Disco Biscuits: their ability to grasp ambient chaos and piece it together into phenomenally intricate jams. For example, he noted a certain point during the first nights’ "Magellan" jam where it “all washed out and got all weird for a while. And that to me, was the coolest thing we did all night.” It’s moments like these that make the evening since the evening is consistently filled with moments like these.
The Disco Biscuits have phenomenal lyrics that cover an excess of genres and range from insightfully profound to pleasurably kooky. Their ever-improving singing voices suit their musical composition. While some folks in the community may complain about their lyrics or vocals, to the average Bisco fan this is “like being Hindu and someone saying you’re not paying enough attention to Jesus.” The main focus of the Bisco experience is the quintessentially unique, magical, live improvisation loosely structured by pre-established setlists or musical routes passing through indescribable composition. It’s one of those incidents where you either get it or you don’t. But once you get it, you’re left with this craving to know more. This desire to understand the whirlwind of melodies, beats and show formation that is like the classic game Othello: “a second to learn, a lifetime to master.” So, to those of you that already know, I’ll catch you at the show. And for all of you who have yet to see or understand Bisco, I say be weary of Bisco Crack, it might get you when you least expect it.
JamBase | Colorado
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Editor's Note: The Disco Biscuits just finished their Fall Tour with a 4-night run in Southern California. The tour closed with an incredible night at Santa Ana's Galaxy Concert Theatre. The final set was a non-stop dance marathon that stopped hearts and left jaws dropped. The crowd went wild as the band ripped through "Pygmy Twylyte" with a complete fakeout - the entire beginning build up of "Basis For A Day" - that dropped right into "House Dog Party Favor"... back into "Pygmy Twylyte"... back into "House Dog Party Favor!"
The Disco Biscuits are heading across the ocean to play in Japan at the Asagiri Music Festival with Galactic and Ozomatli. They then do a four-night Halloween run in the Pacific Northwest. Northern California heads can finally catch The Disco Biscuits in their new home territory in their two-night Thanksgiving celebration at The Fillmore in San Francisco on November 23 and 24.
The Disco Biscuits' Tour Dates