The Disco Biscuits – June 3rd – Red Rocks Amphitheatre

06-03-2017 tDB-12Photos by Dan Melnik

The Scene: After three rowdy nights at The Ogden Theatre, anticipation levels were high to see if The Disco Biscuits could finally deliver a Red Rocks performance for the ages.  While they have had some memorable moments, like the “Laser Snow” show in 2015, the band had yet to play the front-to-back classic fans had been yearning for since the band started headlining The Rocks in 2009.  With how well the band had been playing of late, and with how unbelievably good the previous three nights were, fans were confident this was their year and, to their delight, that confidence was rewarded with easily the best show the band had played at Red Rocks to date.  

The Disco Biscuits: As I said before, the previous three shows of this year’s Bisco Inferno run were nothing short of spectacular and the band wasted no time getting back into the swing of things.  With the sun still shining and the crowd basking in the glow of Red Rocks, keyboard player Aron Magner kicked the party off by teasing an all time classic in Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  This had everyone singing along to the iconic verses before Magner faked the crowd out with the first few chords of “Spaga” before the whole band dropped into “Rock Candy.”  “Rock Candy” is a dance party banger of the highest caliber and immediately had the whole crowd getting down.  In years past it’s taken the band a few songs, or even a whole set, to get comfortable and really find their groove – but not at this show.  From the get-go they were locked and loaded delivering a blistering jam that segued into a monster inverted version of “Crickets.” “Crickets” features a HUGE guitar peak from Jon “Barber” Guitwillig and Barber absolutely brought the house down with this one.  To say we were floored by this level of intense and furious playing only 2 songs into the show would be an understatement.

From there the band executed things with a bit of a lighter touch, segueing “Crickets” into a new song debuted only a few months back called “The Champions.”  The jam in and out of “The Champions”  had some playful back and forth between Magner and Barber and had a more uplifting and blissful sound than the darkness that had come before and was looming for later in the night.  As the band exited the confines of “The Champions”  they ramped up both the tempo and intensity, slamming head-on into an inverted version of “Mulberry’s Dream.”  “Mulberry’s”  provided some fantastic and thematic playing  described as by one fan as “Submarine Biscuits.”  At first this might sound like the talk of someone who has perhaps partaken in a little too much partying over the course of four nights, but honestly it’s an apt description.  At times the band did indeed sound like they were chugging along, underwater and in the abyss.  It made sense to me and definitely had me laughing as the band once again shifted gears and segued things into the “Spaga” that had been teased to open the show.  “Spaga” is an insane song about dragons, princesses, knights in shining armor, and all sorts of nerdy, medieval shit but, despite its geeked out undertones, the song always brings on a nasty and sinister jam and this one certainly delivered on that.  Between the band playing with the fury of a Shivan Dragon in attack mode, and the insane lasers dancing off the rocks, things were on the verge of madness.  When the peak of “Spaga” finally resolved into the soothing “Ahhhhhs” before the final chorus, the music hit a frenzied release and, after some thank yous from bassist Marc Brownstein, both the crowd and the band got a well deserved break.  Normally this would be the time some DJ or band that most fans weren’t too keen on listening to would take the stage for about an hour but, with Simon Posford aka Shpongle detained with visa issues, the time was spent visiting with friends and trying to regain some semblance of sanity after a ridiculous first set.  This rest was needed because what was to come in the second set would put us all on our asses.  

There is nothing like when your favorite band hits the first few notes of your favorite song (especially when you’ve been wanting to hear it for years at your favorite venue) so, when the first notes of “Save The Robots” dropped and my buddy absolutely lost his shit, it was a thing of beauty.  “Robots” is another ridiculously demented song from the twisted brain of Jon Gutwillig and it set the tone for the rest of the night.  Driving synth lines and evil melodies would be the theme for the evening but before we got locked deep in the Bisco Dungeon, the band delivered the only cover (Bohemian Rhapsody was barely a tease) of the night with David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance.”  Normally I would be a bit worried about Barber singing an iconic tune like this but I have to say this was far and away the best he has ever sounded singing in the almost 15 years I’ve been listening to the band.  Not only were the vocals spot on (I never thought I’d write that in a review of this band) but the jam out of it was one of the highlights of the night.  The funkiness of “Let’s Dance” gave way to some peaking guitars before the band dropped seemingly out of nowhere into the dance party juggernaut “The Great Abyss.”  “Abyss” is an instrumental that gets dark and dirty and this version had some extra teeth to it.  Between the veracity of drummer Allen Aucoin’s driving kick-drum and Magner’s heavy, industrial sounding synth lines, it was impossible not to get down extra hard to this one and I didn’t see a single person not dancing their ass off.   

Out of the “Abyss,” as the band continued their non stop dance party assault, one of my favorite things that can happen at a Disco Biscuits show occurred.  When the band is really firing on all cylinders they cease to be four individuals and form into one, eight-legged monster that moves as a unit.  The beauty of this is that when the eight-legged monster is on the loose, musical ideas bounce around the stage and a melody played on guitar is almost instantly picked up on and built off of.  It’s hard to describe, but it’s a thing of beauty and as Barber found a simple yet uplifting groove, the others joined and accented it and that seemingly innocuous groove and lick built and built until that eight-legged monster brought it to a euphoric peak.  Almost as quickly as it had manifested, that groove dissolved into some more evil, techno four-on-the-floor before the band dropped into an all time Bisco classic “I Man.”  “I Man” is the song that got me into the Disco Biscuits and to this day evokes a reaction from me reserved for maybe two or three other songs by any band.  To say I was excited would be the understatement of the year and, as the band ripped through the first jam they had the whole crowd fist pumping, singing, and showing off the guns in their hands during it’s aggressive chorus.   

From here things get a little tough to describe.  Trying to put music like this into words that make sense to anyone but the most hardcore fan can be a challenge so again I’ll borrow the words of a fan in the moment.  The jam out of “I Man” went into “Evil Carnival Biscuits” (I’ve used Dungeon Biscuits in the past but I like this better).  What is “Evil Carnival Biscuits” you ask?  Well, imagine if Pennywise the Clown from It, Jason Voorhees, and Freddy Kruger started a band with Trent Reznor at the helm and played dirty four-on-the-floor techno music with a bit of a taste for the dramatic.  That’s “Evil Carnival Biscuits.”  If that doesn’t create an image for you then I highly suggest popping on the Youtube video of the show because again, trying to explain this shit to anyone who doesn’t already know can be a futile effort.  Out of the “Evil Carnival” jam in “I Man,” Barber continued his relentless attack and after some serious shredding ripped into the beginning of yet another Bisco Classic, “Hot Air Balloon.”  “HAB” is a great song to shift gears out of the darkness, but it didn’t take long to get back into those murky waters.  After the verse and chorus of “HAB” we were right back in the submarine and plunging deeper by the second.  It’s astonishing how a band can get so locked in and shape shift on a dime like The Biscuits do and they made it their business to showcase this ability all night long.  On top of the miraculous sounds coming from the stage, the work by Lighting Director Johnny Goode was once again on display and the way he lit the backdrop of rocks behind the stage was absolutely mesmerizing.  

All good things must come to an end and, despite the wishes of most of us that this four day party would never stop, it was time to point the submarine back towards the surface but not before one last triumphant peak.  As the familiar notes of “I Man” started making their presence felt in the jam (it’s worth noting that the band had not stopped since the set started and we were well over an hour into things) a surge of energy seemed to bounce from the stage, through the crowd, and back and as the “I Man” re-emerged and peaked one last time it was hard to find a single face in the crowd that didn’t have a huge, shit eating grin from ear-to-ear.  Once the band stopped playing they gave everyone, themselves included, a chance to soak in the moment and attempt to digest exactly what in the hell had just gone down.  Not just at Red Rocks but for the past four nights as a whole.  The band delivered four truly unique performances spanning everything The Disco Biscuits are about and did so in nearly flawless fashion. Unfortunately, with just under 10 minutes left until the hard midnight curfew, it didn’t leave enough time for the “Munchkin Invasion” encore to hit any special heights, but it didn’t matter.  Both first timers and hardcore veterans alike showered the band in thunderous applauds which was a fitting end to easily the best Disco Biscuits performance at Red Rocks and, in my opinion, the best Bisco Inferno run of all time.   

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.