The Disco Biscuits, Lupos Heartbreak Hotel, Providence, RI 4/4
Spring was in the air and expectations were high as the troubadours of trance-fusion
set up shop in Providence. Aesthetically
pleasing and noticeably undersold (the balcony was closed until the second set),
Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel would provide the backdrop for yet another dance party
extraordinaire. The Disco Biscuits had just come off their first tour of Europe,
had been amassing a list of new songs, and were two performances into a four-night
run through familiar New England territory. The stage, yet again, was set.
The band was quick to click as they felt their way into a brief intro before dropping
the opening chords of "I-Man." Following a powerful run through the composed
Aron Magner's keyboard work led the way as the band stretched out. This 35-minute
opening selection would prove to be one of the most rewarding
portions of the show, as the final composed section extended well beyond its familiar
confines to wind through some diverse and exhilarating passages. Finally, guitarist
Jon Gutwillig signaled the thunderous return to the chorus.
And so Friday night was off and running in Rhode Island with a bang, the momentum
would only be slightly halted by a run-through "Vacation," one of the
band's infant offerings. The song itself is soft and ballad-y, but like most
Biscuits tunes it will likely find a welcome spot in the live setting and ultimately
the hearts of fans. The lull in the audience was quickly forgotten when the "Crickets"
intro started up and that unique brand of Philly dub began to seep from Marc Brownstein's
bass guitar. Rather than coming in with the telltale "Crickets"
lick right away, Gutwillig cultivated a beautiful few minutes of improv
before deceptively bridging the space and revealing the ruse. Guitar would be the
main ingredient flavoring this version, with sublimely laidback picking through
the funk section before the group charged into an intense groove.
As he would throughout most of the night, Magner then took the reins once more with
sizzling synth work. His increasingly recognizable tinkling transformed into the
theme of “42” and the attentive (and now clearly sweaty) gaggle on the floor
offered its approval. “42” may garner some criticism for being played too
often, but it's a quintessential piece in the band's catalogue and a major
element of their definable sound. This version delivered the goods, closing
out the set with a barrage of sonic twists and e-drums.
Anticipation was abuzz, as it always seems to be, for the second set. A standalone
to-the-point version of "Hope" would kick things off pleasantly, after
which the band revisited "Morph Dusseldorf" to finish what it had started
This version was long, focused, and fierce. Allen Aucoin's work on the e-drums
rose to the forefront once again as the band plowed into an aggressive yet mesmerizing
Then with their most intense musical exploration of the evening behind them, the
devoted the remaining half hour to putting smiles on everyone's face.
"Resurrection" (aptly titled considering its recent dust-off) was
a treat for many diehards, and it led into the unveiling of one the finest new
additions to the band's catalogue. "The City," a bouncy Brownstein
musing. The sing-along chorus is sure to
provide its share of ecstatic reactions as it explodes out of the end of some epic
jams yet to come. Still, the Biscuits still had one very exciting trick up their
sleeves with the return of "Kamaole Sands," a Brownstein-penned jam-rock
anthem, full of rhyming
couplets and major melodic bliss. As Biscuits' fare goes, the song resides on
the fluffier end of the spectrum, but 'Kamaole' had one huge thing going
for it leading up to Friday night: The song hadn't been played in well over
three years and never before had it been performed with Aucoin, who joined in December
of 2005. Nearly taken for granted by fans as a "surefire bustout" when
the band played in Jamaica this past winter, "Kamaole" didn't make
an appearance there and would linger in uncertainty until smoothly materializing
out of "The City" and sending the Lupo's faithful into hysterics.
The grin on Brownstein's face said it all as he sang out the lyrics, surveying
the ecstatic throng before him. The Disco Biscuits had made good in Rhode Island.
No encore, no need.
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