The Disco Biscuits – June 1st – The Ogden Theatre

tDB 06-01-2017 (2)Photos by Dan Melnik

The Scene: A sold-out crowd was fired up and ready to go last Thursday night at The Ogden Theatre for Trancefusion-Rock pioneers, The Disco Biscuits.  With how well The Disco Biscuits have been playing the last two years, and coming off three shows the previous weekend, anticipation levels were extremely high heading into this Bisco Inferno run and the band did not disappoint.  Undeterred by the heat and sweat that comes with a sold out show in June at The Ogden, TDB fans were treated to an epic performance that easily ranks among the best in recent memory for the band and as an all time classic for them out here in Colorado.  

The Disco Biscuits: Coming off a very strong show on Wednesday night that featured a first set chock full of rarities (up until that point none of those songs had been played yet in 2017) and a second set that delivered the kind of Disco Biscuits dance party fans crave from the band, the only question being asked pre-show was how long it would take for the band to get dialed back in and start firing on all cylinders again. To the delight of all in attendance our question was answered almost immediately.  From the first drop in “Little Shimmy In A Conga Line,” a playful and upbeat number with a distinct salsa vibe, it was extremely obvious to everyone in the room that the band was locked in and it was on.  They wasted no time dropping right back into the pulsing dance grooves we’d heard on Wednesday night and that have become the band’s signature sound.   When the band blasts off in this nature it’s like getting shot out of a cannon and the excitement shared by those in the crowd is palpable. Sometimes it takes a bit for the improvisational juices to get flowing, but when they are so on that early in a show it almost always results in something special and that’s exactly what happened on Thursday night.  

From the jam in “Shimmy” things segued into “Miracles” – a new song from bassist Marc Brownstein.  Die hard fans will recognize it from Brownie’s side project, Electron, but to hear it played with The Disco Biscuits was a cause for celebration as it is only the 2nd new original song debuted in the last 6 years.  For a band that lives off of keeping things fresh, new material is something a lot of fans have been clamoring for so needless to say it was a treat to hear them debut something new and do it with such passion.  The jams inside of, and coming out of, “Miracles” were both top notch and I think it’s safe to say that this song will find a place in their rotation of songs moving forward.  After leaving the constructs of “Miracles,” things raged along and, after about another ten minutes of jamming, the band landed on “Gangster.”  At this point we were almost 45 minutes deep into the set and only three songs in.  For the uninitiated this might sound a bit over indulgent but for Disco Biscuit fans it’s exactly what we want.  Deep and intricate improv layered on top of driving dance party and four-on-the-floor beats is what this fan bass craves and it is hard to describe the feeling when the band is delivering on that craving at the kind of level they were this past past week.  

From “Gangster”  the band brought things to an absolute fever pitch before shifting out of dance party mode and segueing into an inverted version of “The Overture,” a classically inspired instrumental from guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig.  Songs like “Overture” showcase the band’s diverse sound and provided some welcomed dynamics to the set.  The outro jam from “Overture” started out on a relatively slow groove but things quickly ramped back up before heading into fan favorite “Cyclone.”  “Cyclone” is aptly named as it is a whirlwind driven by a forceful melody and some seriously heavy beats coming from drummer Allen Aucoin.  The instrumental seems to build the tension before becoming its own force of nature and laying waste to an unsuspecting crowd.  This version did exactly that and had the whole room in rubble before descending back into yet another monster jam.  As the set came to a close, laser beams danced around the room and despite being exhausted from nearly 80 minutes of uninterrupted dancing, the crowd still had the energy for one last surge as things got crazy when the band segued out of the darkness and back into the end of “Little Shimmy in A Conga Line.”  It’s always impressive to hear the band come out of such dark sounding territory then send things into an euphoric peak like the one at the end of “Shimmy.”  What really brought this one over the top was the work of Barber on his new synth pedal dubbed by one fan as the “end of the world siren.”  It sounds almost like an air-raid siren and in the last few runs Barber has really figured out how to blend it with the rest of his effects and its use on this “Shimmy” gave the ending of this set a distinctly evil flavor.   

After a much needed rest during set break, fans were ravenously pumped up and ready to go.  I can’t remember the last time the Biscuits had delivered such an epic first set and hopes were high for what was coming our way in set two.  After the insane dance party we had in the first set things started on a more mellow note with “Sister Judy’s Soul Shack” – an old school song with a distinct, jamband-y feel to it.  While it was nice to hear them bust out “SSJS” for the first time in over 6 years, the real heat was coming and from the first notes in “Nughuffer” it was obvious that the dance party was back on.  “Nughuffer” features some story telling time from Brownstein and it’s safe to say from his huge grin and playful dance moves that he was fired up for this one.  After a nod to their dual citizenship in the Bisco paradise of “Zex Sea,” Allen’s soon to be birthday, and his “ball so hard, motha-fuckers wanna find him” nature things got real dirty, real fast.  

The jam out of “Nughuffer” was the stuff most Biscuit fans dream of.  Just full on, unadulterated, dance party madness with Barber ripping over the top of the band and slamming into another monster song.  This time the song was “Orch Theme,” another aptly named song that evokes  images of an Orc army on the march through the hills of Middle Earth.  This time, the jam was keyboard player Aron Magner’s time to shine.  After a dazzling display of synth wizardry, Magner moved to his vocoder and shifted the whole band into the Bloodhound Gang’s 1999 classic, “The Bad Touch.”  This is a song that many Biscuit fans have yearned to hear for quite some time so needless to say smiles were abound, even from Magner himself.  After the 90s shenanigans subsided, the jam shifted back into the “Orch Theme” but not before some more seriously heavy playing.  To many, this segment was the highlight of the entire Bisco Inferno run if not all of 2017 so far.  I’ll reserve my judgement on both fronts but will say that for those looking to hear the band playing at their absolute best, check it out.  It doesn’t get much better than this.   

At that point, after what seemed like hours of exhausting dancing, I checked my watch to see how long that insanity had just gone on for and to my delight we still weren’t even close to the end of the show.  Up until that most of the show had been spent in some kind of industrial hellscape soundtrack but then things took a turn to the euphoric as they went into the middle section of “Aceetobee,” again showing the bands ability to shift gears and dynamics almost on a dime.  “Aceetobee” provided the perfect gasp for air moment within the intense playing we had been treated to for the previous 40 minutes.  The blissful and soothing tones and melodies soon once again gave way to Allen Aucoin’s ferocious kick drum and the crowd didn’t have long to catch their breath before the band launched into another monumental jam that brought things back into the “Nughuffer” that had started what seemed like a lifetime ago.  

With still a decent chunk of time left before curfew, the band had options and dropped into “House Dog Party Favor” an ambitious marathon of a song perfect for this kind of situation.  With so much time to let things develop, this “House Dog” was one of my favorite in recent memory.  The band had no reason to rush, and the way they patiently built off of the song’s themes and melodies was amazing.  Things seemed to develop out of nowhere and the comfort in which they were able to steer the music in so many interesting directions was beyond impressive.  It provided a triumphant way to end a set that will be talked about for a very long time.    

With so many highlights to pick from what was an unbelievable two sets of music, the band would have been hard pressed to pick a more fitting encore than “42.”  With its upbeat grooves,  sing along chorus, and undeniably dancey jam, it was a fitting end to a truly epic night.  Consensus seems to be that this show was the best of the 4 night Bisco Inferno run and it’s tough to disagree.  It showed exactly what insane levels this band can reach when they are polished and locked in together.  You’ll be hard pressed to find a show that is so good from the get go and rages so hard throughout but possibly the best part about it was that we still had 2 more nights to go.  Stay tuned for my review of Saturday night’s show where the band delivered their greatest Red Rocks performance to date.  

Energy: A+
Musicianship: A+
Sound: A
Stage Presence: A
Set/Light Show: A+

Overall: A+


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Who Is Gary Mellini

Gary is a lifelong music fan raised in Chicago. He is the "G" of J2G Live, a Denver based music production company that brings you "Dance Party Time Machine," "Revenge of the 90's" among other great events.