Conspirator | 10.31.08 | New York

Words & Images by: Jesse Borrell

Conspirator :: 10.31.08 :: Highline Ballroom :: New York, NY

Conspirator :: 10.31 :: NYC
New York City owned the electronica scene in the final days of October. Located on the Lower West Side, Highline Ballroom featured two related acts one night after another. As online rumors spread into the physical realm on the evening of October 30, it was the eclectic Disco Biscuits side project Electron that may have packed the most punch by playing an assortment of songs from both the Bisco and Phish catalogues.

Eventually the dust settled and on the following evening, similar suspicious individuals faithfully made their way towards the Highline once again in hopes of seeing more of the unknown. With the help of Telepath and Orchard Lounge, Conspirator did indeed conjure the Halloween spirit for the diverse group of musical freaks in attendance.

Hailing from Philadelphia, Telepath's unique, down-tempo infused beats can make one feel as if they are floating high above the clouds. During "India Haze" many found themselves cruising across the dance floor in an easygoing manner to a sound that ranged from Indian to reggae-influenced veins. Orchard Lounge cranked the volume knob ever closer towards eleven while dressed fittingly as a set of airline attendants, whose sole flight plan was taking us higher. Pulling from a wide range of both original and non-original material, Orchard Lounge embodied the word 'endurance' during an early morning set that wowed attendees until 4 a.m., well after the Conspirator set had come to a close.

After getting warmed up by the relentless nature of Orchard Lounge's opening set, Conspirator started the night with an energetic and lyric-less version of "Step Inside." This night featured the Disco Biscuits' Allen Aucoin on a full drum kit, taking the place of an absent DJ Omen, who is the original third member of Conspirator. The Highline Ballroom burst to life as this song, led by keyboardist Aron Magner's impressionistic harmonies and Marc Brownstein's deep thumping on a midi bass synth, the trio extending within the special realms of improvisation.

Telepath :: 10.31 :: NYC
Before starting "Oname Wa," Brownstein gave a shout out to the song's writer and former Disco Biscuit drummer Sam Altman before striking the beginning chords into what became a short venture into the well-known theme. Aucoin's well-honed break beats held the structure mischievously as the trio built momentum towards an ultimately swift exit. It was great, in a sense, to see Aucoin rightfully paying some heavy hitting homage to the drummer who pioneered his current throne.

Flipping the tempo, Aucoin began a thunderously slow beat resembling a hoard of minions on a warpath. Coming to its initial crescendo, a particularly evil version of "Orch Theme" began and picked up steam as the crowd trudged in step with their fists pumped in the air. Brownstein, ever imitating his caricature bobblehead doll, held the song's core with the relentlessly dirty bassline. Aucoin accentuated deeper, off beat fills over the song's usually repetitive synthesized rhythm. Magner playfully expanded the main tonal themes and led the band into an extended jam that definitely could have been the highlight of the night.

The slow building exploits of "Tamarin Alley" hinged upon the squeaks and tweaks of Magner's synth, while an energized Brownstein would routinely throw his hand in the air in an effort to pump up the crowd on this possibly unfamiliar song. While the boys of Conspirator took some risks by playing relatively unknown tunes, on "Boomshanker" and "What They Want," staple tracks off the 2005 Conspirator release The Key, the exertion seemed to flatten as the cuts turned routinely as if nothing was at stake. Sensing a possible lull, the momentum quickly turned as Magner led into the celebratory panpipe opening notes of "Liquid Handcuffs" to the satisfaction of the crowd, who familiarly danced to the staggered rhythm.

The previous night's triumphant probe into a (almost) risky Phish catalogue proved all too well that any given night can be hit or miss depending on many variables. Although the Conspirator experience was greatly heightened with the addition of the human drum machine Allen Aucoin, the repetitive nature of their catalogue can sometimes come off as almost too easy for these veteran transfusion musicians. Part of the fun of seeing their full time band is whether or not their attempts to "bring the heat" will succeed or fail. For that reason alone, Conspirator holds the niche of being consistently just raw enough to keep the avid Disco Biscuit fan coming back for more.

Conspirator :: 10.31 :: NYC

Conspirator's next show is on 11/21 in Philly. Dates available here.

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Comments

BGA1 starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/6/2008 12:22PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Liquid Handcuffs- Sick ASS jam. Seen these guys open for Umphrey's in 2005 I think was the year at the GAMH great stuff..

PooDolla Thu 11/6/2008 01:16PM
+10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

PooDolla

My jaw still hurts.

SOAM84 star Thu 11/6/2008 01:40PM
Show -10 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
STRUT Thu 11/6/2008 03:00PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

STRUT

Telepath hails from Asheville...and they kill it

Lakai starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/6/2008 03:01PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Lakai

I thought this was a really good review, pretty much spot on. OL was def the sickest part of the night tho hands down.

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Thu 11/6/2008 07:34PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RambleOnShelbyRose

saw conspirator three times on this tour they did this fall, may i say that they threw down, and def curbed my bisco desire till the NYE Run

Deadphishbiscuits Thu 11/6/2008 09:10PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Deadphishbiscuits

Sounds like a hell of time. Havent caught these guys yet but will have to if they come around this area. Definate missin the fall bisco tour but its all good. A good show to one and all...enjoy

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^› {¬¿¬} Fri 11/7/2008 04:23AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

‹^› ‹(•¿•)› ‹^›      {¬¿¬}

all they need is a good guitar player :)

emb Fri 11/7/2008 06:28AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Telepath hails from Asheville, looking forward to the CD release party next sat @ the Orange Peel.

Love the last pic (brownie)

Conspirator = meh~

umphscr starstarstarstar Fri 11/7/2008 08:04AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

i was there until 4 am, conspirator was sick but OL raged it so hard

JakeyBear Fri 11/7/2008 09:45AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

JakeyBear

What songs or jams of Phish did electron play? and does anyone know where barber was? i saw Allen play on thursday last week and he said it might turn into a traCTOR beam type thing....rumors rumors rumorrs...im not a long time bisco fan, but allen is the fucking man.

chesirecat3 Fri 11/7/2008 10:16AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Electron played 2001, wikapauge groove and tweezer.

And I agree with umph and lakai...OL was def the party of the night. Conspirator is still nasty though especially with allen.

Might As Well Fri 11/7/2008 12:29PM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
if rhymes were valiums... starstarstarstarstar Fri 11/7/2008 01:34PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if rhymes were valiums...

bisco still rocks... what do you mean km71?

just since conspirator is more synth based doesn't mean tdb can't bring the heat anymore... please explain what you think. you can't be responding about bisco after reading this article. go see them on nye and then get back to us...

if rhymes were valiums... Fri 11/7/2008 01:35PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if rhymes were valiums...

"they shouldn't be allowed on this site"

Deadphishbiscuits Sat 11/8/2008 06:59AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Deadphishbiscuits

km71, i understand part of your comment. i myself am an avid fan of the disco biscuits and you are right they used to have a more "natural" sound then the now more dominant electronic sound. and that natural sound was good as hell, and so isnt their i guess you can say more recent/newer (though its not newer but you catch my drift) electronic sound. but they definatly do belong on the site cause they can jam. whether its barbers guitar ripping your face off or his synthizer box thing going back and forth with mr.magner its still good music and a good time. any whoo just thought i'd chime in on that. A good show to one and all...enjoy

Might As Well Sat 11/8/2008 10:07AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Might As Well

OK, I get everyones point and I take back about being on the site. I just think they sounded a lot better when they first started off. Electronic music doesn't have much soul in my eyes. I'll be at Railroad Earth on NYE by the way in response to(if rhymes were valiums).

if rhymes were valiums... Sat 11/8/2008 12:46PM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

if rhymes were valiums...

i hear that. bisco can definitely fall flat on occasion. railroad earth rocks too, but i personally need to rock a little harder on nye

give bisco another chance i say...

Might As Well Sat 11/8/2008 01:29PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Might As Well

I actually went to see the Biscuits on NYE a few years ago. I think it was the beginning of the end for me. It was a lot of noise with no direction. The scene was basically a bunch of 16yr olds on ecxtasy with glowsticks. I did have fun however!

JGabriel starstarstarstarstar Wed 11/12/2008 10:28AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

JGabriel

Great review! Conspirator is a true example of electronic styles being interpreted on live instruments, especially with Allen on drums! Even after shifting over to mostly pure House music (and living in Europe now) this is facinating!

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Sun 11/16/2008 08:22PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

RambleOnShelbyRose

Yea Bisco does fall flat sometimes, but i feel that this break is just what they needed, i think that they come back and will hit their stride, i feel that the super electronic sound was something that they used just to get over the fact that they were not jelling as a group, but what i heard this past year makes me think that they have finally gotten their stuff together (see Tatanka show where barber tears it up)