Where to begin, simply stated Thursday the 6th of December 2001 was one of the best nights of my life. I can't recall being in such bliss for so long regardless of the circumstances. The music The Disco Biscuits played this night and the “vibe” in the theatre is what reminds me why I drive 5 hours one way to see it all take place before my eyes. Actually my eyes were closed for a good portion of the show, but what is literally meant by seeing music live is feeling that energy that is passing between the musicians on stage, and the people in the audience as a whole.
That being said I was surprised at the turn out at The NorVa. The place probably holds 1500 tops, and that’s with the second floor open, which it was not for this show. The floor was probably half packed but the Biscuits have a way of making people stretch out and get down. They easily and comfortably filled the whole floor with five to seven hundred twisting, jumping, raging bodies.
The band came on stage after about a 40 minute wait, full of smiles and red eyes, particularly Brownstein, which I assume was from the chlorine in the groupie infested hot tub back stage. They busted into "Bernstein and Chasnoff" with little delay and this tune rocked and rolled from the word Bernstein and displayed a few nice little improv pieces squeezed in. Nothing too mind bending but just what the doctor ordered to get things started. Next up was "Voices Insane," a strong song in its own right with one of those great schizophrenic style jams that fits so perfect into this song. Often times it seems like everyone in the band is losing their minds, but somehow they manage to all lose them at the same time and be in that same “lost” place. By this point the energy is flowing heavily!! The crowd is eating it up and the band is ready for more.
What better way to pick it up a notch than "Magellan," an epic tale of an epic man. Things start off standard with that great verse, chorus, verse, chorus leading into one of the finer guitar hooks in the Biscuit catalog. Without losing any wind whatsoever they sail into a 5 minute HEAVYMETAL jam, an all out wah wah pedal, cymbal crashing, Brownstein doing the Pete Townsend, building what usually sets the jam a sailing into a huge climax! Which then fades into your normal "Magellan" voyage. Lots of water was charted during all this, and maybe not any new territory, but the energy and tightness of it all lead to a fine, fine expedition of "Magellan."
After this Barber says, "We're The Disco Biscuits" with a big smile and says they are taking a set break, confusing myself and many others because it was only about 45 minutes long. So we think 3 sets?
Set 2 started off with a great "Pygmye Twylyte." The crowd was feeding off every little move and the band was giving it right back, emphasizing that The Disco Biscuits really are the king of the beats! A nice chilled out jam lead out of "Pygmye" and into "Floodlights!" Brownstein is singing his part and dancing with that big shit-eating grin on his face. So not only the segue into "Floodlights" but a segue out of it, which starts off the 3 song palindrome. This whole set and the palindrome in particular is why I love The Biscuits. They realize the intensity of their own music and challenge people to run the gauntlet with them.
My beer was already empty but by the time they took the chilled "Hope" jam into that wash of chilled noise "Munchkin" intro but I wasn’t going to miss this for anything! The "Munchkin" jam that proceeded was one of those super smooth and slow building jams The Biscuits do so well. It never got lost or stagnant but always pushed towards the direction of that great wave crashing, "Above the [fucking] Waves" inverted style. Damn, when this wave crashed the whole place was a rocking, jumping up and down and just going ape shit. The "Waves" was extremely tight and held another sweet intense jam back into "Munchkin," making this song sandwich probably the highlight of the night. Then, to top it all off, they go smoothly out of the "Invasion" and back into "Hope," splitting more than a few heads and slowing the pace down just half a notch for people to take a break. After the set ends, they mention something that I didn’t hear, saying they are going to play one more set so I was amped! I figured it would be a short one but I was still happy none the less. This was a night where they could play till 4 am and not miss a beat or lose any drive, there were simply ON!
After about a 10 minute break the band comes back out, Barber with a shot and a beer and Brownstein claiming he had never seen this guitarist so happy in his life, but they were all glowing. Barber was on his knees Hendrix style and launches into "Smoothie King," which I wasn’t familiar with so I just listened. Next came the show stopper, it’s a real treat when they play "Nughuffer" and the crowd erupted when they launched into it! They rip through the opening part and when Brownstein goes to do his spoken word thing he starts beat boxing, laying down sum Rahzel style funkyness. The band picks up on his groove and takes it into a nice trance style jam, once again super tight and smoothly working their way into "Vassillios," which was played well. At this point my head is splitting, and I’m starting to recognize the whole nights greatness while it's happening, but my thoughts got interrupted by the jam that was working its way back into the "Huffer" with Brownstein laying down some bombs and even throwing in some slap bass till they finished up the nasty ending of "Nughuffer."
After all this all I could say was, "Wow!" The band was full of smiles and left the stage. While the audience continued to give them props, hoping for just “one more tune” which unfortunately did not come, probably due to time. The audience wasn’t moving and still screaming when the lights came up.
So in comparison, The NorVa was more of a rock oriented show, giving way to a few dance trance jams, but even those were super tight and always had direction, never getting lost in the groove. The first night at the 9:30 Club had a few more open ends and a few more chilled songs, but they seemed very appropriate for the place. I honestly had more fun at the NorVa but that was because of the intimacy of the crowd, and the ample room to get my swerve on. The crowd also seemed more into things at The NorVa where as at the 9:30 a lot of times it seemed like people didn’t know what was going on. This makes sense though because most of the people I talked to at the 9:30 were first timers. Some of whom had never even heard the Biscuits music, but were just told to go by friends. As far as music, we probably got an hour more in DC so it is even tough to compare that end of things. All in all two incredibly kick ass shows each showcasing the diversity of the band, and their ability to play so many styles of music so efficiently.
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