BISCO | 03.04 & 03.05 | FOX THEATRE

From the get-go, I’m going to confess that I will be writing more from the perspective of a conspiracy theorist than attempting a traditional review. Me, the band, and a herd of B’Gocked heads have clued into the fact that the Disco Biscuits have hit upon something huge, something that no involved party can really articulate to the fullest extent, or do justice to. It is almost as though the band is constantly conducting experiments, on some level, similar to the Electric Acid Kool-Aid Tests of the 60’s. Each show is a venture into the unknown in an attempt to find something new, to push the limits as much as possible and stretch the boundaries of music as we know it. The band gets on stage with the preconceived intent of disorienting the audience with mind-blowing intensity and surprising themselves along the way. They throw you off guard with hypnotizing trance-fusion, manipulated setlists and consistently tight execution of diverse composition. To sum up, a Biscuits show is an adulterated, magnificently intense experience that leaves you blissfully drained after hours of abusive sensory overload.

What went down at the Fox Theatre was genuinely incredible, even within the realm of Bisco expectations. One subjective factor is that Colorado is my personal stomping ground, and now has undoubtedly become a home-away-from-home for the Biscuits as well. So having them flown in to play the first two shows of the Biscuits’ one and only palindrome year, 2002, was “something like a phenomenon.” Fresh out of the studio, the band has managed, yet again, to subtly morph into an ever-evolving musical voice onstage. Their sound is more versatile than ever, and their playing inhumanly unified. Each member is an essential organ, sustaining life in body of the monster that signifies all that is Bisco.

Set one of night one was solid. The boys felt admittedly rusty, which went largely unnoticed as each stand-alone song in the first set improved exponentially, until the band locked back in and played on a whole new level; welcome to 2002, ladies and gentlemen. "The Helicopters raged" as expected, packed with beautiful moments (namely the second jam). The "House Dog Party Favor" that ended the set was the dead giveaway that they were back in full effect. That version was just huge, with a nice dub jam… and everything else you can possibly imagine.

The second set was off the hook, soaring from the plateau set in the first round. The "Shelby Rose" was magnificent, with gorgeous solos from everyone. Undoubtedly it's one of the best love songs written in recent years. The "Magellan" that segued out of "Memphis" was spectacular, and undoubtedly ranks amongst the very best renditions, (many of which have been played in this state, coincidentally).

Night two was a whole different story altogether. Faintly contrasting the first night, which had a more rock and roll edge to it, the band was thriving more on the electronica side of their spectrum. They dug right into a tight groove that found its way into Pink Floyd's "Run Like Hell" without haste. The set peaked, ended, and set new standards with an absurd "Jigsaw Earth" that segued into "The Overture", with a nice and understated "Run Like Hell" fake-out. The Biscuits continue to stretch everything possible, to tweak every little detail, giving new vibes to territory old and new.

Set two, a monster four-song set, cast off with a glorious "The Very Moon" sending us way out into orbit before crashing into the powerful ending of "Run Like Hell." Up next was "Cricket", which proved to be the easy highlight of the set, the night, potentially even the entire run. I was bewildered as to what they could possibly do during the encore, to bid salud and nail shut the coffin they built the last two nights. Back on stage, they kicked off the encore with an incredible "And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night." To ensure no unfinished business, they quasi-segued of out an ambient acid-jazz style jam into the ending of "Jigsaw Earth." With a bow they left the stage to a room of dazed heads hopped up on adrenaline.

What can all the madness be attributed to? Is there some kind of fifth body that they channel into that orchestrates their actions in such unison? The Biscuits’ individual capabilities have undeniably altered since New Year's Eve, when they last played together under the eye of an audience. [Keyboardist Aron] Magner has added an authentic Hammond B-3 to his sea of machinery, giving a lot more soul to certain sections. And he looks happier than a pig in shit toying with it. Barber [guitarist Jon Gutwillig] is undoubtedly one of the most melodically versatile guitar players at the moment. He’s all about effects and the wah pedal these days, drawing an even thinner line between electronica and rock n' roll. Sammy [drummer Sam Altman] has become even more flexible, and seems to be taking more control of jams, especially with those tight breakdowns that evolved over the New Year's Run. Brownie [bassist Marc Brownstein] is smoother than ever, laying down divine bass solos that resemble the classical styling and influence of Phil Lesh, whom the Biscuits briefly toured with last summer. They play with all their hearts, and what manifests is what I believe to be the most innovative, cutting edge sound out there. Music is an entity that, like all else, is constantly altering and improving over time and, from history, we learn from our mistakes and integrate those ideas and themes that have thrived. By constantly taking risks and learning, the Disco Biscuits have created a groove that incorporates everything good about music, and it's played with no limitations, no loss of melodic momentum, and no comparisons.

The Biscuits have since gone on to finish the first part of their spring tour in California with four nights spread between L.A., their hometown Santa Cruz and San Francisco. They will be getting the gears turning again March 29th in Chicago with two nights at the House of Blues. Then it’s off across the plains to the Northeast, and back to the Midwest again, to wrap things up before heading to Jazzfest in New Orleans. All said and done, I have nothing left to spew forth other than a sincere recommendation that you catch the Biscuits at all costs sometime this year, as it’s shaping up to be “Crazy. Crazy like a cat, slippery, sleek and..."

Ian Koudstaal
JamBase | Colorado
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Bisco Tour Dates

[Published on: 3/13/02]

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