The Disco Biscuits, The State Theatre, State College, PA – 6/27
When the Disco Biscuits announced their Road to Camp Bisco Tour, any fan of the band with a true sense of history knew that the show in State College would be the show of the tour. Sure there was the gaudy, free for all two night stand in Atlantic City the two nights prior, but when it comes to the Disco Biscuits throwing down, State College, Pennsylvania has once again been proven the place to be. Returning for the first time in nearly 6 years, the Biscuits sent out a Come to Camp Bisco Alert by continuing their musical dominance of 2009 in a town that helped the band rise to stardom over a decade ago.
Setting up shop in the lecture room sized State Theatre, the band came on stage with Bassist Marc Brownstein announcing, This place is awesome. After opening with a reserved King of the World, the show began to take shape with the thump of Brownsteins bass to kick off Story of the World. After weaving through the jolly, upbeat composed sections of Story, the spacey synth from keyboardist Aron Magner was a wonderful change of pace to the usually funk-fueled jam. Built off soaring blissful riffs from guitarist Jon The Barber Gutwillig, this Story morphed into a beautifully melodic piece before drummer Allen Aucoin completely obliterated his kit, setting up a ludicrous segue into Pilin it Higher.
The only true bust out of the night, this Pilin was the perfect example of the new style and sound the Biscuits have been showcasing across the country for much of 2009: tight, fresh, and most importantly, on-freaking-point. It was also during this jam where it appeared each member of the band lifted their musical game a few notches and turned this intimate movie theatre by day into the best dance party in Central Pennsylvania. Coming out of Pilin it Higher, the band dropped into a spacey, ambient outro jam that gave the audience a few ticks to regroup until the soothing sounds of Air Song misted through the PA system. Graceful, yet mystifying Air Song allowed the band to exhibit a softer, patient side to their music. Keeping within the theme of the set, the charge out of Air Song returned to an upbeat, pop-like sequence as Barber and Magner traded notes and effects, building to a hair raising drop back into Story of the World. A standalone Tunnel featuring, yet again, simply marvelous work by Barber ushered both the band and crowd outside to regroup for set 2 in the refreshing State College air.
When the Biscuits took the stage for set 2, one couldnt help but notice the smiling, carefree gestures on the band members face. With a solid first set containing no true heavy hitters, everyone in the room had the feeling that something very good was about to take place. The all instrumental M80 kicked off the second set with its dark, swirly, middle eastern themes, foreshadowing what was about to ensue. When the start of Helicopters zoomed through the room, a collective roar emerged as the Biscuits ripped through one of their oldest classics in effortless fashion. As the band broke into a dark, techno-laced jam, one could easily understand why fans have been raving of the recent play of Aron Magner and his semi-new toy/keyboard- The Virus. Engulfing the room with mechanical and robotic effects, the sounds of the Virus supplied the driving force behind a jam that built into a high-octane musical beast. As the music became almost too intense to comprehend, the opening chords of Astronaut fell out of the sky creating a sequence that caught everyone by surprise.
One of the better segues Ive ever seen this band pull off, this version did not let up for a minute; it will be playing on my ipod for weeks. Dropping into the suspended in the air section of the song, the band weaved and danced its way through the loose, bubbly jam, before the snap of Aucoins snare and the thump of Brownsteins bass signified that Orch Theme was waiting in the wings.
Normally a straightforward bassy jam with two main themes as bookends, Astronaut>Orch Theme provided an interesting, unique segue that kept the pours open and the sweat flowing. After heavily teasing Spacebirdmatingcall , Orch Theme drifted into trippy, ominous territories before they resurrected the suspended in the air jam from the pits of the State Theatre.
Drifting back into Astronaut, the band hit the 2nd jam and went off like T. Woods circa 97. A Caves of The East type groove kicked off the songs 2nd jam, as it became much more apparent that this 2nd set was nothing but the goods. As the jam continued onwards, thoughts started billowing in my head. But just as the Biscuits reached the conclusion of the song, the boys from Philly dropped into a start stop jam over the ending chords. Then, continuing with what seems to be the recipe for the Biscuits sound in 2009, the band built a wonderfully cohesive ballad around layers of sounds and beats, shredding into the ending of Helicopters. With the crowd and band taking part in a joyous take at the loveable chorus, Heyyyyyyyyyy, Helicopters, Look out below!, the ending of Helicopters put a huge exclamation point on a must-hear palindrome.
After closing the set with a microscopic Sound 1, the band elected to treat everyone in the room to a delicious desert in the form of a Spraypaint Victory encore. Coming in at a shade under 17 minutes, the power of Spraypaint could be felt rumbling down College Ave for nearly an hour after the show. With Camp Bisco only a few days away, State College provided a perfect tease of what was to come from the Biscuits at their annual summer throwdown… the HEAT.