Monday, March 2, 2009

Review: The Disco Biscuits @ HOB, 2/28

Let me tell you about the climax. It involves lights, an enthusiastic crowd, and four men playing trance-fusion style music on the bass, guitar, keyboard and drums. I am speaking, of course, of the Disco Biscuits, who played a sold-out show at the House of Blues on Saturday, Feb 28. The best way I can describe this particular Bisco show is that it wore me out, in the best sense of the term. The entire night felt like a journey—Marc Brownstein (bass) and Allen Aucoin (drums) kept me anchored to my surroundings while Jon Gutwillig (guitar) and Aron Magner (keyboard) transported me into a trancelike state.

It all started with the first song, “Uber Glue,” off their new album, which comes out later this year. Unfortunately, the line to get into the House of Blues stretched around the block and I had to strain my ears to listen through the doors. During my interview with Gutwillig two weeks ago, he mentioned that the band would be playing new songs on their winter tour and I was upset I missed it. From what I could tell, however, the song got a phenomenal reaction from the crowd.

After “Uber Glue,” Bisco got right into their dance fusion with “Astronaut,” a fast-paced song that shows off Magner’s insane keyboard skills. Dance parties were erupting all around me, as I stood in awe of the band’s ability to keep up. There was a reciprocal relationship between the energy of the crowd and that of the band. As Bisco rocked out, the audience became animated, encouraging the band to take their sound to a higher level. Eventually the level of energy would reach a peaking point, but instead of letting up the band kept playing, sending the crowd to new heights. While most bands have songs that last somewhere between three to five minutes, Bisco jams can stretch as long as twenty. The first set lasted almost an hour and a half but consisted of merely six songs.

By the time Bisco played “Astronaut”, which segued into “Digital Buddha,” I was wiped out. It seemed like all of the songs the band had played so far culminated in the last few notes of “Buddha.” I began to notice the diverse group of Bisco fans I was dancing with and it made me appreciate the variety of lifestyles the band brings together. To my right there was a group of PBR-drinking bros, to my left a bunch of hippies, and in front of me a pack of rave kids, fiddling with their glow-sticks; but here we were all rocking out to the same music. The first set ended on a high note and I was glad to have some time to rest before Bisco took the stage for another mind-blowing performance.

The set break, however, lasted for what felt like hours. Although there was a DJ playing in order to pass the time I, along with the rest of the crowd, became anxious for Bisco's return. Finally, over forty-five minutes later, I heard “Shelby Rose” begin to play as the lights dimmed. The crowd went wild all over again. During their second set, Bisco drew down their crowd with a low-key yet still energetic vibe. “Shelby Rose” melted into “The City” (one of the crowd favorites) and then back to “Shelby Rose.” This method of jamming songs into one another is a traditional Bisco method. In my interview with Gutwillig he told me that “it makes it more fun for us to make different set lists and jam songs into different songs. It keeps things interesting.” It also makes the show a more stimulating experience for the audience due to the unpredictability of when a song will end and another will begin.

Bisco kept the audience hanging on throughout the entire set, maintaining the peaks and dips that so thoroughly rocked the first one. I enjoyed hearing their famed cover of Pink Floyd’s “Run like Hell.” They took a jam perspective on a dark track and it worked wonders. I saw some of the most provocative dancing during this song in particular. The next two songs were a bit slower and almost brought the show to a close. Although the songs weren’t unsatisfying, they put me in a dreamlike trance that made it harder to concentrate on the music. While my mind was wondering, I barely noticed that Bisco had left the stage and come back for an encore.

An energetic continuation of “Basis for a Day” from their first set got me back into a grooving mood. I enjoyed the lively tone of this song and got excited for when “Aceetobee” began, ending the show. The lights were at their most dazzling, the crowd was at its most frenzied, and the band had finally reached their climax. As soon as Bisco got everyone in the theater to come to a musical peak, Acoin hit the drums, one, two, three—and, just like the concert was over. I could feel relief tinged with disappointment in the audience as I gathered my coat and walked into the cold night. The Disco Biscuits had put on a show that will likely be a topic of conversation for years to come.

-Lana Tkachenko

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