Words by Brian Heisler :: Images by Adam George
The Disco Biscuits :: 05.05.06 :: The Vic Theatre :: Chicago, IL
"Are you here for the Friday Night Freak-Out?" When my evening began with such an interesting question from such an intriguing smile I knew I was in for a hell of a time. With an immense crowd stretching the length of Chicago's Sheffield Avenue I was lucky to get inside before the lights dropped.
The Disco Biscuits :: 05.05 :: Chicago
With a good portion of folks still in line when The Disco Biscuits took the stage, screams from the lobby could be heard, "Caterpillar!" Marc Brownstein's bass pounded the classic Vic Theatre and its wonderfully ornate and intimate setting as if the old room was being challenged to contain the sound. Right out of the gates, "Caterpillar" launched the dancing frenzy and allowed for crowd singing on a fan favorite. In a great but humorous gesture, Brownstein sported a Chicago White Sox jersey. Chicago is always proud to support its sports teams (especially World Series Champions) and loves to see guests do the same, but it must be noted with a grin that The Vic is on the North Side, only blocks from Wrigley Field, home of the cross-town rival Chicago Cubs.
After one of only two breaks between songs in the first set, the Philadelphia quartet kept it going with a scream of their own, "King of the World!" With a response of cheers and smiles, The Vic bounced amidst the streaming lights and Jon Gutwillig's cutting, bright guitar. On only the second song, the "Friday Night Freak-Out" was in full effect, drenching t-shirts from wall to wall. It was at this point that I made a note to myself to remember that it only took two songs for The Vic security to toss out a couple fans and end their night of fun, though I have no idea what the accusations were. The snapping, hard, and sharp bass and guitar soloing continued into a signature Biscuits set. As usual, Gutwillig placed his Nikes aside to dance in his socks on his blue carpet, tip-toeing, hopping, smiling, and clearly having fun as he exchanged beats with Brownstein. In his second appearance in the Windy City (after the double-bill with moe. at the Aragon on 2/3/06), Allen Aucoin held the trance like a metronome, continuously pushing with the bass drum and hi-hat. "Rock Candy" folded into a soft synth jam, creating a sight and sound reminiscent of the underground moving walkway in Chicago's O'Hare Airport or the ride Spaceship Earth at Disney World's Epcot Center. Brownstein dismissed the band for a set break, and the crowd seemed to limp into a break from the madness as well.
Allen Aucoin :: 05.05 :: Chicago
Like an old-time boxing match, a friend of the band announced through a bullhorn the beginning of the second set, "Round Two. The princes of trance-fusion, Philadelphia's own, The Disco Biscuits!" With a roar the Biscuits reclaimed the stage for the highlight of the night. Not only was it the highlight in Chicago, but many Biscuits fans in Philadelphia who attended the Umphrey's McGee show that night would say the same. The Disco Biscuits opened the set with UM's "In the Kitchen," which has become a Chicago jam anthem, sending the crowd into hysteria for the city's favorite sons. Likewise, at the exact same time, Umph returned the favor in Philly at The Electric Factory with the Biscuits' "Home Again." As the audience chanted every word, the band segued into the ending of "Basis For A Day" and then back into "In the Kitchen" for what was the climax of the show to this point. As "Astronaut" worked to keep the energy high, the crowd grew noticeably tired. Fighting fatigue the room began to sag, but continued to throb with pulsating bodies from the balcony to the stage. After all, a Disco Biscuits show is somewhat of a marathon and fans should plan accordingly. With a full-band crescendo, the bass drum dropped out, everyone else faded back in, screams mounted, and the band finished off the tune with one last "A-stro-naut!" Stopping to again greet the crowd, "We love Chicago!" they continued into a version of "Abraxis" that included (not coincidentally) bright floor lights like a disco bar. The most solid and expanding jam of the night came in the set-closer, "Spacebirdmatingcall." While each member of the Biscuits locked in the groove, they seemed to casually lose each other in a relaxing free-form. Returning to the lyrics and moving back to the jam again, they seamlessly expanded the piece. With Brownstein running in place during the end of the song, The Disco Biscuits completed the set and quietly disappeared.
Jon Gutwillig :: 05.05 :: Chicago
"So we're gonna play some more music," Brownstein announced as the band reemerged for the encore. "We're playing in Memphis tomorrow. It's 9 hours and 42 minutes to get there, and we're playing right after the Gin Blossoms," Gutwillig added. Beginning with "Munchkin Invasion" and segueing into "The Great Abyss" and back into "Munchkin Invasion," the Biscuits pulled off a ridiculous, fifteen-minute-plus final helping of fresh sounds. The encore was so long it was easy to forget that it was in fact an encore. As the band struck the last note of the set, Brownstein plucked his bass and placed it on his stand, allowing the note to hold and fade on its own while The Disco Biscuits walked offstage.
Marc Brownstein :: 05.05 :: Chicago
A Friday Night Freak-Out indeed.
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