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Published: 2001/09/07
by Dan Greenhaus

The Disco Biscuits- Wetlands, 9/1

There are few bands on the scene right now that evoke the reaction that The Disco Biscuits do. Many people swear that their music is the worst thing they've ever heard, while others cannot go one day without listening to it. While it is true that their vocals are not the band's strong point, there is no denying their skills on their respective instruments. And love them or hate them, one has to admit that they are spearheading a musical movement.

The next few weeks is one of those times when living in Manhattan can be a beautiful thing. In particular with the final days of Wetlands shows, live music has been resounding throughout Tribeca. On September 1 and 2 the Disco Biscuits rolled back into the club to play two sold out nights on this extended weeken. On the first night the Wetlands was as packed as I've seen it, up there for instance with the moe. CD release party.

The band took the stage at 11:40 and began by reminiscing about the times they had played at Wetlands. Bassist Marc Brownstein then let everyone know that this night was going to be a Wetlands "retrospective" as they were going to play only songs that debuted at the fabled club. Opening with "Story of the World," the show got off to a roaring start. This being my first non-festival Bisco show, I was immediately struck by the raw energy of the band in the smaller environment. The jam in "Story" was tight, showcasing each member's skills while at the same time, maintaining a cohesiveness of the whole. In particular, Aron Magner's keyboard playing was a perfect complement to guitarist Jon Gutwillig's lead lines. The song's middle section was a clinic on how to improvise collectively as a band, not just one member playing lead while everyone else plays catch-up. "Triumph" followed which, when brought all the way down, segued nicely into "Haleakala Crater". "Kamaole Sands" followed and featured some stunning guitar playing by Gutwillig. During the whole set, my ears kept bouncing back and forth to each band member as each offered some really interesting ideas. The set closed with the appropriate "Home Again", which was the highlight. At one point during an intense middle jam I thought the band was lost, but Brownstein brought it back perfectly, drawing a huge ovation from the crowd.

As the band came back out and launched into "Once the Fiddler Paid," drummer Sam Altman really shined, as he would throughout the set. While "Fiddler" was solid it was the next hour of music that people were talking about. A lengthy "Mindless Dribble" built into dense, nuanced jam which carried into crowd favorite "Above the Waves" (appeasing many folks who had been screaming for it all night). "Waves" is one of the band's better songs, even if at times I think it sounds a little too similar to "Guyute." The band carried the song back into "Dribble" with as much flair and intensity as the first transition. "House Dog" closed the set after "Floes" but unfortunately I was not in good spot to hear it. The almost unbearable heat in Wetlands, in conjunction with the crowded club, forced me to make the poor decision to leave the stage area and go by the door to catch some fresh air.

Saturday was one of those magical nights that has defined Wetlands is known. While I respect the opinions of the people who do not like the Biscuits, I find myself drawn into their music with each additional exposure. To me, ultimately this reaction is the measure of a good band.

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