The Disco Biscuits Barber and the Ally jam in NYC

What should have been a two-hour drive up from Philly turned into a three-hour drive, showing once again how easy it is to get lost in the vastness of NYC. After seeing some nice and not so nice parts of Brooklyn we finally found Galapagos, which was on the end of sixth street in a remote part of town. In true hip NY fashion there was no neon sign out front but rather a dim red light radiating onto the side walk to signify the bar.

The main part of the bar was un-like any other bar. There was a hallway to the back room, which was basically a basement, but with high ceilings. It had a cement floor and plain gray brick walls and a stage no more than a foot off the ground. Surprisingly enough there was a huge screen behind the stage with an LCD projector that showed the band on it with some effects throughout the night. There was also a bunch of colored lights hanging but they never really got utilized. Another surprise was the sound quality, it was surprisingly good. The levels were just right and everything seemed clear considering there amount of musicians playing and the nature of concrete walls.

Fortunately the band did not go on until 11:00pm or so allowing the fashionably late folks time to stroll in, and gave me enough time to drink a few beers and unwind from all the honking and potholes. As for the crowd the room was filled perfectly. If there were ten more or ten less it would have been tight or seemed empty, which it did by the time the show ceased.

So onto the music, after some Sublime then a track off of the Beastie Boys In Sounds From The Way Out, Barber gets on stage and starts noodling. Soon after this the bass player and drummer from The Ally join in, along with a second drummer.

As far as the jamming went it truly was a free form dance party. I don’t imagine they practiced any more than the sound check but remarkably a lot of musical ground was covered. From dance and trance to rocking power cord riffs and everything in between, including sum great groovy dub, which The Ally perform wonderfully on their own, it was quite a collaboration.

At least one song was played in the first set, song meaning lyrics and it was sung and written by the bass player from The Ally, Ira. The chorus was something along the lines of “sad, sad boy” and he titled it "Blue Socks,” fittingly enough. I could easily see The Ally doing this tune as it fits into their whole original dance dub groove brew.

So the core line-up played for a good hour and a half and then the guitarist from The Ally, and another guitarist got onstage. This whole collaboration sticks out in my mind as some very melodic and peaceful ambient sound. Making me compare it to the likes of Air, who I consider to be at the pinnacle of melodic atmospheric music. This collaboration went on for about a half an hour and lead to a chilled ending of the two hour set which developed a handful of themes.

It was nice having a long set, after the Disco Biscuits NYE show I firmly believe it's better to have two long sets than three short ones where by the times the band and audience get into that “zone” it's time to get out of it and take a set break.

As far as the second set goes, it’s a little hazy, the Blonde ales I consumed were in double digits. The four that started the show started the second set and then once again the two guitarists joined them. Simply stated everyone that was on stage was extremely talented and lead to some fantastic danceable music all night. One jam however does stand out. Towards the end of the set Barber was in some "Memphis" territory. He didn’t play any parts of the song but rather the same chords, just in a different progression.

A couple random notes- Barber played keys for a few minutes in each set, nothing to fancy, but just enough to mix things up. Secondly, the two drummers sounded like one! They were fantastic and I don’t know how they did it because I was unable to see them at work. Lastly, big-ups to everyone who made it happen, it was an absolute blast and well worth the 12 bucks and the drive up from Philly. I’m also glad they choose NYC over Philly, 2 am curfew is lame.

JamBase | Bisco Brain
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[Published on: 1/14/02]

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