The Disco Biscuits, Georgetown University, Washington, DC-10/01
Embracing the cut-and-paste structure of modern electronic music, The Disco Biscuits have worked harder than almost any act to string their performances into a single, cohesive statement. While hippie-rock traditionally finds comfort in recurring segues and interlocking teases, The Disco Biscuits embrace this concept full heartedly, linking sets, shows, and even tours by splicing and sprinkling their compositions. Dissecting certain thematic phrases from their songs, The Disco Biscuits' individual shows have slowly fallen by the wayside, proof that a Bisco concert is only truly experienced in the plural tense. In the process, the quartet successfully freed electronic music from its studio confines, also breeding a new strain of uber-fans who needed to attend entire tours to achieve a feeling of closure.
Yet, suddenly, The Disco Biscuits faded into a semi-hiatus of sorts. After a brief run through Florida, including a benefit gig some still sight among group's best offerings, The Disco Biscuits turned their attention to a bevy of side-projects, family priorities, and non-public pursuits. While an appearance alongside Slick Rick at the Jammys and a few weekend runs through the northeast kept the band an active entity, the past ten-months have clearly been a time of transition for all things Bisco. Adding to the confusion, The Disco Biscuits seemed to fashion their sporadic shows as fan-tributes, not forums for growth, cramming into intimate venues like New York's BB Kings and Trenton's The Conduit.
Taking a left turn this fall, The Disco Biscuits' only October performance ended up tacked onto a school sponsored bill in Georgetown University's large, stoic McDonough Gymnasium. Sharing the stage with grassroots teen-idol Howie Day and local-heroes Motive, The Disco Biscuits' single, elongated set almost seemed like an afterthought, kicking off as the university's frat-contingency faded into a smorgasbord of other Friday night activities. Buried at the center of Georgetown's campus, McDonough Gymnasium adopted the snooze-you-loose ambience of a stealth Wetlands performance—-a burst of energy enjoyed exclusively by those who specially sought out the show out.
Stylistically recalling The Disco Biscuits' dark, rock-heavy fall 2003 tour, this one-off spot favored epic solos over carefully layered trance. Opening with a somewhat shaky reading of "Resolution," The Disco Biscuits quickly found their fingering, turning in an ambitious set, which would have slid nicely into a mid-tour sleeper spot. While the McDonough Gym's acoustics hampered the group's projection, The Disco Bisco played one of their tightest, jam-oriented shows of the year. With guitarist Jon Gutwillig and bassist Marc Brownstein trading leads, the quartet offered a set of think, amplified music, which snaked through "Shelby Rose," "Spectacle," and "Shem-Rah Boo" before truly pausing. Perhaps the band member most eager to perform over the past year, keyboardist Aron Magner filled the evening's wildcard spot, touching up each number with quick, bursts of synthesized energy.
Unfortunately, without a series of shows to connect this performance into an overall arc, or even weekend adventure, the group's Georgetown gig seemed to exist in a state of limo. But that didn't stop the group from dusting off a pair of new numbers: "No Pain" and "Fletch." The former is a slightly, childish rock-song which fit more snuggly among older compositions than among newer cuts like "Fever" and "Therapy." The later, "Fletch," is a new take on the popular 80s movie's theme, which ran a bit too long, but still packed a humorous punch (especially to those hailing from the nearby town of Chevy Chase). Yet, both songs added a breath of new life to The Disco Biscuits themselves, who appeared refreshed and surprisingly rehearsed. Wasting little time, The Disco Biscuits' sliced and diced their set into several pieces, really only pausing twice during their two-hour performance. A segue built around "Astronaut" worked particularly well, with Magner's siren noises serving as thematic hooks of sorts. Yet, The Disco Biscuits' saved their best jam, an excellent deep "Reactor" sandwich, which included "42" someone in the center. "Little Lai," as usual, worked well as an encore, short enough to work as an unattached number, but experimental enough to leave the crowd satisfied.
Oddly enough, the evening's most revealing moment arrived between songs. Taking a brief pause, Brownstein recalled an early Disco Biscuits' gig, which happened to take place at Georgetown during the band's college days. While Brownie's offbeat tales have served as the basis for many mid-show pauses, and the Biscuits classic "Nughuffer," one couldn't help but feel a sense of nostalgia in Brownstein's tone as he reminisced. A few years back, while discussing The Disco Biscuits' early days on Jambands.com, Brownie offered his theory on the group's early success. "We weren't necessarily a good band, but we were a hard working band." Years later, The Disco Biscuits are, arguablely, jam-nation's brightest stars, and it's sad to watch their work slowly fall by the wayside. But, at times during this Georgetown performance, one could feel the group's energy kicking into gear, while their playing unrusted.. And, hopefully, such shows will encourage The Disco Biscuits to continue splicing their songs for many years to come.