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Published: 2003/05/30
by Dan Greenhaus

The Disco Biscuits, Jam On The River, Philadelphia, PA- 5/26

"You guys all wear Jerseys?"—Marc Brownstein

Ahhhhhh, Memorial Day Weekend. When the sun shines
brightly, flowers are in full bloom, and beaches, deserted the length of the
winter, are now packed to near capacity. Of course, this is not the case
here on the east coast where permanent cloud cover has settled over our part
of the country, stretching from Florida to Toronto, bringing steady rain to
our fair cities for the better part of the week. Coming into Philadelphia's
"Jam on the River", the general consensus had accepted rain as a given, and
nothing less was expected. Fortunately, the Transfusion Overlord blessed
his minions and no rain was felt the length of the day down by the river.

Over the course of the day, the majority of fans
present caught sets of music from Israel Vibrations, Old and in the Grey
(potentially one of the most talented bands on the face of the earth), Donna
the Buffalo, Buckwheat Zydeco and The New Deal. However it was perfectly
clear to anyone that The Disco Biscuits were the band of the day. Being
that this was the band's "home", there was a certain sense of anticipation
present in the crowd not normally present in other cities. An anticipation
which was fueled further by the band when, upon taking the stage at 7:30,
they announced that "We actually practiced for this show!" garnering a huge
ovation from the audience.

With dozens of friends and family in the audience,
all of whom seemed to know one another, the band began the show with a
spirited, stand-alone version of "Jigsaw Earth." Not an unusual opener,
"Jigsaw" sometimes suffers from this placement, however this particular
version soared with a stellar jam led by Aron Magner's work on the keys,
work which would prove to be, song after song, the highlight of the evening,
despite serious displays of guitar prowess from Jon Gutwillig. After
completing "Jigsaw" the band launched into the oft-requested "Morph
Dusseldorf" (a nod to a fan who requested it for his birthday), only the
third version thus far this year. Upon the completion of the lyric section,
the band settled down into a low key groove, grounded by Marc Brownstein's
thumping bass, Jon Gutwillig's minimalist guitar work and Sam Altman's usual
steady drumming. But as was the case in the first song, Aron Magner stepped
to the forefront with his lead key work, over his own rhythm work, led by
large washes of atmospheric sounds, creating one of the most interesting and
powerful jams of the night (and yes, they ended the song).

"World is Spinning" followed, serving its purpose by
giving both the band and the fans a breather after two songs that were a
combined length of just over a half-hour. "World", being a new song, is
still in its infancy and as such, shouldn't be expected to routinely produce
huge jams, as that is apparently not the song's intention. However, the
few times I've heard it, I always envision a deep, dark jam, which hopefully
will materialize at some point in the near future.

The ensuing sandwich of "Digital Buddha- Sound 1-
Digital Buddha" seemed to lag at points, notably on the jam into "Sound 1",
however the jam back into "Buddha" was tight and featured some interesting
interplay between the band as a whole. But it was the following jam of
"Kitchen Mitts – Basis (ending)" that thrilled the crowd. "Mitts" has not
been one of my favorite songs by the band, and I often find myself unable to
enjoy the song's contrived "Na Na Na" ending section, even if I sing it
every single time they play it. That being said, the jam into "Basis"
wasn't so much of a segue, as it was a "drop in", the difference of which
I've been debating lately with some. After completing "Mitts" the band
quickly, almost without stopping, dropped into a techno jam in "E", which
eventually led into the ending of "Basis" which may or may not have been the
highlight of the night, depending on whom you ask. More stellar work from
Barber on guitar can be found in this jam, but it was Marc's subtlety on
bass that really drove the jam. His ability to take a one note bassline and
morph it into something of a much more complex nature, without altering the
tempo of a jam is Marc's "bread and butter" if you will, and this jam was
certainly no exception.

A standalone "42" closed the show, perhaps in
response to a shirt given to Marc with a lyric from the song provided on it,
but either way, the song produced a nice jam to end the evening at exactly
9:00. Fortunately for all in attendance, the local officials or whomever
granted the band some extra time to play, giving us a "Story of the World"
encore. A seemingly odd choice being that I figured the band would only
have about seven or eight minutes to play, the song lasted over twenty
minutes and contained some searing lead licks from Jon on guitar, in
addition to some fantastic play by the band all around.

Unfortunately, the song had to be abruptly ended due
to time constraints, but nobody cared. The song was a "bonus" and just the
fact that they played more, let alone at all, was enough for everyone,
although it didn't hurt that the jam was great. It didn't rain, the Disco
Biscuits played a great show and it didn't rain. Isn't live grand?

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