The Disco Biscuits | 04.03 | S.F.

Words by: Chris Clark | Images by: Dave Vann

The Disco Biscuits :: 04.03.09 :: Fillmore Auditorium :: San Francisco, CA

The Disco Biscuits :: 04.03 :: Fillmore
It had been almost three years since I last witnessed the Bisco spectacle in the flesh. I remember when, some time before that, seeing The Disco Biscuits at Central Park's Summerstage in 2002, I'd once thought they'd be the next big thing, that it was finally time for the trancefusion pioneers to successful bridge the gap to the next level. Now in 2009, there's been the replacement of iconic drummer Sammy Altman with Allen Aucoin, the constant talk of a new album (after a developing master copy was stolen) and hundreds of shows, but still, I and the droves of ultra loyal fans have waited patiently for the Penn boys to take it there.

Last Friday night at San Francisco's famed Fillmore showcased a band with new vigor, a group holding true to its jamtronica roots but now willing and quite able of taking what their sound used to be and making it bigger, better and more refined. Coming out right after openers Heavyweight Dub Champion finished their short set, The Disco Biscuits made a triumphant return to the hallowed hall, a room they hadn't played in over a half dozen years. From the time they arrived on stage, bassist Marc Brownstein and guitarist Jon "Barber" Gutwillig seemingly basked in an enthusiastic sheath, exchanging glances, head bangs and even a few body rocks from across the stage. Showcasing a slew of new material and an explosive repertoire of electronic rock magic from the past, the Biscuits began the first set with "Uber Glue," a short, composed warm up before new tune "Rivers" and soon the crowd pleaser "The Very Moon."

Jon Gutwillig :: 04.03 :: Fillmore
Through the initial 15 minutes, you could feel both the band's excitement and also the crispness in their playing. Clearly, this seven-show California run was preceded by plenty of practice, nowhere more apparent than in the precision of the "Very Funk" section of "The Very Moon." As Aucoin and Brownstein laid down in that thick, chunky pocket, Barber's return to concise note playing moved the band forward smoothly, cascading into an I-can-feel-it-coming "Astronaut." A Bisco favorite for years, this version of "Astronaut" featured the band in full circus allure. While many naysayers profess their strong disdain for the band's vocal abilities, or lack thereof, I've always been a true proponent of Barber's raspy, bluesy voice.

As "Astronaut" began to seamlessly mold into the techno-infused "Gangster," the crowd finally started to get their legs under them as Brownstein's pulsating basslines grasped onto the lead, delving the quartet into a raucous and electronically titillating rendition of "Spacebirdmatingcall." In my sleep, I heard a mating call arise from the stage, as the sweaty, crooked-face crowd erupted into a frenzy, as Barber and keyboardist Aron Magner teamed up. Where you wanna be now? To my ears, the transition out of "Spacebird" back into the fiery, set-closing ending of "Astronaut" was the definitive high point of a first set that started off slow but ended with an intense bang.

The brief set break at the Fillmore was a little more colorful than usual and by the time the band returned it was prime time for the lights to go down and the party to continue. Another new tune, "Mirrors," commenced the second set, a tasty cut with ample room for positive growth as the band continues to explore and define its parameters and style. "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." arose like a phoenix, exploding the Fillmore's chaotic collage of characters into a fist-pumping fury, as Barber and Magner proclaimed, "Making easy money pimpin' hoes in style" - without a doubt, one of the best acronyms I've ever heard. Long a platform for trance sonic exploration, the Biscuits dove in headfirst, culminating in a heavy, Aucoin-Brownstein led jam that seemed to have the entire Fillmore moving.

The Disco Biscuits :: 04.03 :: Fillmore
The combination of the band's concise jamming with their always-impressive light show and sound made for quite the sensory experience. The "M.E.M.P.H.I.S." segue into "Caves of the East" was impressive and the brief respite afterwards was a nice time to grab a quick drink before Brownstein's "Caterpillar" offered yet another choice cut out of the Biscuits' repertoire. Magner stepped up to the forefront, with his gliding keys soaring alongside Barber's note perfect guitar playing, patiently ascending the song's first half into a long, drawn out transition into "Abraxas" and the anticipatory segue into the crowd favorite "Crickets." In particular, the inverted "Crickets" enjoyed some of the best musical moments of the second set, with all four members truly hitting their stride, moving together ala vintage Disco Biscuits.

This was the impression I got throughout the Fillmore performance: a band that was clicking, each on the same page and jamming with a purpose. As they shifted from the inverted "Crickets" back into the ending of "Caterpillar," I felt a sense that the first night of the California run was just a miniature glimpse into big things to come for the Biscuits.

Maybe after all these years, trials, tribulations and adversity, all the hard work was now finally paying off as they truly find their sound. The "Rockafella" encore didn't do much for me, but at that point, I was already more than satisfied because the band I once loved dearly had brought me back into their world and showed me that I haven't seen the best of them yet.

04.03.09 :: The Fillmore :: San Francisco, CA
Set I: Uber Glue, Rivers, The Very Moon > Astronaut > Gangster > Spacebirdmatingcall1 > Astronaut
Set II: Mirrors, M.E.M.P.H.I.S. > Caves of the East, Caterpillar > Abraxas2 > Crickets2 > Caterpillar
Encore: Rockafella
1 unfinished
2 inverted

The Disco Biscuits are on tour now, dates available here.

Continue reading for more pics of Bisco at The Fillmore...

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POTKETTLEB1ACK Mon 4/6/2009 11:36AM
+6 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!



Justin Gillett Mon 4/6/2009 11:38AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Justin Gillett

Damn looks fun. Too bad I wasted all my money on Ratatat the night before...

RambleOnShelbyRose starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/6/2009 11:44AM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


looks fucking sick

moebiscoplease Mon 4/6/2009 12:14PM
-2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


awesome review...lets see the review from moe.'s 2 night run in boston....cmonnN!!

sparky2 starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/6/2009 12:58PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Fantastic review Chris! Sounds like a mighty fine time. Really like your writing. Keep up the great work!

rulosa01 Mon 4/6/2009 01:04PM
Show -4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
NickBoeka starstarstarstar Mon 4/6/2009 01:05PM
+3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Nice work Chris, I think you nailed it. Not being a huge bisco fan myself, I was pleasantly surprised at the show, had a great time, and if I didn't have a commitment already, would think about going down to Santa Cruz tomorrow for another one.

The1AndOnlyDJCT starstarstarstarstar Mon 4/6/2009 01:20PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Nice review, I heard the next night was way better too. Can't wait till Camp!

TBMLEE Mon 4/6/2009 01:40PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Check out all of the dope ticket giveaways @ I heard they are giving camp bisco tix away later today.

Henrock Mon 4/6/2009 01:44PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Wow, they opened with Uber Glue, what a surprise...

boom shanker Mon 4/6/2009 02:36PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

boom shanker

nice review, pictures, and setlist.

BJonesy4 Mon 4/6/2009 04:34PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Thanks for the great review! Looks like this was a show, exited to hear some of these newer tunes live for the first time. Keep it up Bisco!

funkedup Mon 4/6/2009 07:37PM
+4 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


whoa whoa whoa....whats wrong with brownie's hat?!?! someone must have stolen it and bent the rim for him ;)

Roswellznutsack Mon 4/6/2009 07:52PM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Ha Ha thats some funny shit Mcquade. Sat nite on Sunset strip should be nicey nice!

acomma Tue 4/7/2009 03:36AM
Show -3 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!
moemoe6434 Tue 4/7/2009 06:17AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!

Acomma, I see 8 in that photo alone.... Take a look again.

phalluscooper starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/7/2009 10:03AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


Two full moon nights at HOB Hollywood this Friday & Saturday...bring on the Bisco madness!

DubSaw starstarstarstarstar Tue 4/7/2009 10:10AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


love me some bisco but there is no way in hell barber's voice is bluesy hahaha

Dire46daysWolf Tue 4/7/2009 02:14PM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


lights lights lights! wow looks amazing. Caves of the East is such a sick song it's one of Brownsteins's best

onthemoon Wed 4/8/2009 07:49AM
-1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


i can tell magner wants to deepthroat that mic

jwatson8388 Wed 4/8/2009 08:55AM
+2 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


god i love this band

clarkbar_12 starstarstarstar Wed 4/8/2009 11:08AM
0 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


What a weekend with the Disco Biscuits, just coming back to reality. They brought the fire at the Tahoe show.

Hankskool Thu 4/9/2009 05:06AM
+1 Votes Thumbs down! Thumbs up!


I saw the Tahoe show and I don't even know these guys. I went because this ski season I've seen at least a dozen shows at Crystal Bay and am really impressed with the stony acts the guy who owns that place gets. The show had been sold out for a week and I paid a scalper a bit extra to get in and it was worth every penny. Excepting the first two tunes they did , which I thought were kind of sluggish, the rest of the show blew me away. It sounded good, the energy of the players was good, and it looked great. Can't name a damned single one of their songs and don't know how they go, but this was highly fresh trippin stuff for my mind. Only regrets were that if I would have known they would start so late I would have taken a longer nap ahead of time since I was dead from skiing all day, and two, I would have accepted the nice offer in the Biltmore elevator from a stranger offering me some trendy chemical amusement aid since it was a long enough two set show where there was no chance of being left stranded with a head full of something and no more music.