Bisco Inferno From The Eyes Of A Biscuit
15 Jun 2011

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Chances to see the Disco Biscuits are becoming more and more rare, and one of my best friends with whom I have been seeing Biscuit shows for some time, is at a point where he is unable to attend any shows with me at all.  I promised him that I would write him, going through all the shows in detail as I experienced them.  Typically, I would type up a review similar to all the other ones I have seen around the Internet…but this time I wanted to provide the Sparkleberry Lane reader with something different, and a bit more personal.  By mixing the review I would post for any and all Sparkleberry followers, and my personal account for my friend, I found a new approach to writing reviews that shows what a Disco Biscuits show is like from someone who is passionately involved with the music being made.

Thursday May 26, 2011 Ogden Theater

Set 1: The Very Moon > Voices Insane > Shem-Rah Boo (1) > Voices Insane.  Neck Romancer . The Overture.

Set 2: Park Ave > Vassilios > Orch Theme > Tricycle > Mr. Don.  Shelby Rose.

Encore: Mulberry’s Dream.

(1) Unfinished

So many great people from all over the country came out for Bisco Inferno this year, and I was lucky enough to have my two best friends from New York stay with me, as well as one of my oldest and best friends from North Carolina, who had never experienced Denver, Red Rocks OR a Disco Biscuits show.  The first night’s first set at the Ogden theater was pretty typical playing for the start of a run.  All of the band was into it and the flow from song to song started out great.  I really liked the jam out of Very Moon because Barber was laying back a bit and playing on some chords versus playing a lot of single notes or the like.  The drop from Voices into Shem-Rah was perfect, and surprised me, for it seemed to come out of nowhere.  The jam for Shem-Rah started almost identical to the August  2010 Shem-Rah, with Magner playing the exact same sounds, but I didn’t mind because that ended up being one of my favorite moments of last year.  I am sure not many people recognized that, but I’ve listened to that Raleigh jam a lot, so it stuck out to me.  I liked where the jam went and how it eased right back into the end of Voices to end the segment.  Neck Romancer is probably my favorite new song so I was pretty happy to hear it, though many around me weren’t….they just don’t get it.  Neck Romancer was pretty typical.  The band has become very tight with this song and Barber seemed to be more into it.  The Overture is a song I don’t get to hear much so I was stoked to hear it as the set closer.  Barber was playing in the background for the jam and really focusing on tying in with the rest of the band.  Some people took it for being uninspired or disconnected but I think he was focusing more on blending.

Second set picked up a lot and the driving force of the band was felt much more.  I had made my way front left where I had space, but was close enough to be all up in it.  The beginning notes of Park Ave sounded just like Floes to me so I kind of freaked out for a minute- and then realized it wasn’t Floes.  Park Ave is a newer song I enjoy, so I simply flowed around and enjoyed the beginning build of the set.    The band has had this habit of playing a standalone and then going into a long section.  Barber noodled around and then dropped into Vassilios, which has been in pretty heavy rotation.  The jam started with a typical untz beat and Barber building on the Vassilios notes until he faded out and Brownie/Magner pushed through with the driving progression.  Barber took a step back and then proceeded to soar in above them all with a very melodic line that easily sent everyone into a Bisco trance.  The jam built into a raging peak from all members, which then flowed into a quite impressive Orch Theme.  Barber took over with these really sexy chords as Brownie let everyone know that it was Orch Theme with his bass line.  I am not a huge fan of the song, but the two separate jams in the song were the personal highlights of the night, being very dark, deep and driving.  I don’t think they usually do the Orch Theme composed part twice but there were two separate occurrences and peaks in the song.

This built into a typical Tricycle, a song they have been playing a lot, so I didn’t find it special in any way; but I love the song so I was in heaven…no pun intended 😉  Tricycle built to its peak and then dropped back down to an easy flowing jam that wasn’t in your face but simply just The Disco Biscuits all flowing together.  This allowed them to work into the beginning of Mr. Don, which Magner slipped right in with a familiar sound, but I couldn’t put my finger on it just yet.  Barber was doing something similar and then switched perfectly into his opened Mr. Don part.  He took a lot more control in these jams and I really liked this version.  Shelby Rose was the song I wanted to hear most over the whole run, so to get a standalone (I like it better not sandwiched) was special.  I love the DnB jam in Shelby and they really laid it down to end the set.  Second set definitely trumped first set, but this is my biased opinion (and probably because the band had gotten the jitters out of them from the first set).  Mulberry encore was spot on, I always love that song as an encore and during the period I was chasing it I caught it twice as an encore and this reminded me of those speical times.  Great way to begin the run, and instead of going out and partying we just went home and rested.

Friday May 27, 2011 Ogden Theater

Set 1: Strobelights And Martinis > Feeling Twisted > Strobelights And Martinis > Caterpillar > Minions > Caterpillar.

Set 2: Papercut > Crystal Ball. M.E.M.P.H.I.S. > Gangster > Lunar Pursuit > Aceetobee .

Encore: Bazaar Escape. Wet.

Night two is usually one of the best nights of a run and typically contains some of my favorite moments, so I went into the night with great expectations.  Strobelights started the set, which isn’t a song I ever get too excited about anymore, but I just put on my sunglasses and let it overcome me.  Surprisingly I had more space up front than I did on the sides of the theater.  I think everyone didn’t want to venture into the middle and so it got really packed on the sides.  The Strobelights jam started out of the dancey descending part, which is my favorite type of improv with this song.  Magner did some spacey synth stuff and Barber added these beautiful chords in the back that created such a unique, fresh jam.  The jam never really reached a soaring peak but stayed consistently driving and smooth until the transition into Feeling Twisted, which is when the whole thing picked up significantly.  Bands really get into their new songs, so this was when they gave it a bit more in terms of playing style.  The jam out of this was on top of the beat and Barber stepped it up with his playing and the driving force of his notes.  The jam peaked and eased its way back down into the end of Strobelights, which was one of the smoothest segues of run.  The jam out of the end of Strobelights had some dubby parts and Allen kicked in the electronic drum kick to add a thick sound, which helped them transition into Caterpillar.

Barber came in with the beginning guitar lick before they dropped the typical samples that start the song.  Allen sort of dropped out when they kicked in, making the switch weird, but once they finally found their groove within the song it turned out great.  Allen added a bit more to the drum part to make it dancey, and the jam ended up being similar to other parts of the evening: pretty laid back.  The segue into Minions was done well and Brownie slid his bass line in perfectly.  Barber built up the composed part with a small chordal jam until it worked into the versus and chorus section.  The jam out of Minions got spacey and mellow, and I enjoyed just flowing around in the middle until it built into a strong trance jam with Barber and Allen leading, which went right into the Caterpillar peak and end to end the set.  The set on paper isn’t very appealing to me, but since it was mostly newer songs I felt the band got a little more into it.

Set two of the second night tends to be complete fire, so I made sure I grabbed everyone I knew and took over the front rows with tons of dancing room.  Brownie grabbed Billy The Unicorn and placed her on his bass amp for the rest of show!  Papercut was a cool surprise because it’s a song I don’t get to hear much, and I love the composed parts of the song.  The jam out of it had Magner playing some vocal chorus sounds that created a nice harmonic jam, with Barber picking around on top.  Magner soon found his way to a familiar synth sound and laid down a funky line that Brownie picked up on quickly while Barber took a break to let the jam build, until he snuck in from the low end.  That is always my favorite because it’s hard to even notice him in all of it until he beautifully picks at your heart strings with his subtle note selection.  I was wearing my sunglasses most of this set and had my eyes closed so I was very involved in the music.  I really love being able to do that around people I feel comfortable with because sometimes there is so much going on around you in the crowd it’s hard to be fully enveloped in the music; I felt lucky to be able to this night.  The jam into Crystal Ball created some great energy: right at the peak of the Papercut jam they dropped into Crystal Ball (kind of similar to the drop from Inv. Abyss > Crystal Ball at camp this past year).

I LOVE Crystal Ball (especially the middle dark part) so I was just super happy to hear this song in general!  Dancing around and yelling like I typically do, my friend Matt knew I was really excited and seemed to focus in a bit more.  Barber’s playing was now at top notch for the evening and he was in the position to take lead and give off some amazing stage presence.  Barber forgot some of the lyrics in Crystal Ball but that didn’t stop him or the band from giving it their all.  After a stop at the end of Crystal Ball, the band slid right into a rockin’ version of M.E.M.P.H.I.S.  I’ve recently had a strange love for this song so I was excited to see where it would take us (which in fact would be the meatiest segue of the night).  The middle jam was a basic rock jam but with all the band members really feeling it and playing in sync; it helped to build the whole overall sound more.  I’m just going to mention here that Barber played on his Gibson pretty much the entire weekend, which is special simply because that is the guitar that all his great masterpeices came out on.  The jam out of the end of M.E.M.P.H.I.S. fell out a little bit and lost  some steam before Allen picked it up with a sort of DnB beat, and Barber used a cool delay effect to add to the spacey soundscapes Magner was making.  It all built into an out there jam which was amazing to close my eyes and let my body flow back and forth to.  The spacey jam withered into a minimal sound until Allen came in with the strong untz driving beat, at which time we were changing into Gangster.

There weren’t any lasers all weekend which I was honestly happy for because they tend to take away from the music, but of course they had incredible lights with confetti lights everywhere, and normal beams that were done only the way Johnny R. Goode does.  To me, their lights are always my favorite of any band, lasers or not.  The jam gained so much driving steam and Brownie was sitting perfectly in the pocket.  Magner was constantly reminding us that we were in space, and Barber was doing what he does best: building to the fantastic peak and dropping right into the Gangster line.  At the end of the composed section, the jam built even more with a faster tempo and Barber keeping up the momentum from the peak of Gangster, dropping surprisingly and easily right into Lunar Pursuit.  Magner’s lead sound was subtle and bubbly, creeping in with each note.  Barber was really feeling it and accented certain chords; his strumming wrist work was amazing.  This is a song that has grown to be a really strong part of any set, and this one was no exception.  Right at the end of the composed part for Lunar, out of nowhere, it dropped into a super dub jam.  It worked beautifully and each band member really shined.  Barber played some distorted, delayed sounds while Magner took lead for a while.  This whole jam had a slow patient build right into Aceetobee.  Everyone in the place was loving it, and I have to say that Aceetobee is a song I could hear at every show.  I saw  friends leaning over the balconies, almost falling off, but loving it to the max, which made the moment so much more enjoyable.  Barber was captivating with his playing during the first jam in Aceetobee.  He blows my mind, sometimes, and I love it.  The jam dropped down into the middle composed section of the song and then went to a slower jam that built back up to the energy from earlier in the song.  I love the end of Aceetobee and they rocked it out to end the set.  Overall, that set was the set of the weekend (but Red Rocks was a beast of its own).  Bazaar Escape is always a treat, and while there isn’t much jamming, the way Barber owns it completely makes it special.  Wet is another treat that was quick but awesome nonetheless.  A great encore to a great overall show.  Afterwards, we went to the Econo Lodge across the street and did hood rat things for a couple hours until we all walked back home.

Saturday May 28, 2011 Red Rocks

Set 1: Highwire. Spraypaint > Digital Buddha (1) > Cyclone > Confrontation (1) > Spraypaint.

Set 2: King Of The World. Story Of The World (2) > Helicopters > Bombs > Run Like Hell > Spacebirdmatingcall > Helicopters.

Encore: Jigsaw Earth > Catalyst > Jigsaw Earth.

(1) Inverted

(2) Unfinished

Everyone lounged around until we decided to venture to Red Rocks around 1:30PM, the day of our Biscuits.  We packed up some drinks and headed to the lot party.  The weather was a bit chilly for shorts (which I wore) but I also brought sweat pants, which I put on and rocked the entire show…complete comfort!  We walked up the back side and had a crazy fun venture into the venue with everyone.  We made it inside for the end of Boombox and claimed our spot.  I was up at the front of row 3, right in dead center and I couldn’t have asked for a better spot.  It started to rain a bit, and a friend ended up bringing me the Digital Buddhas table cloth to cover myself, so I was very warm and comfortable the whole show.  It only rained a bit during Cyclone (ironic, I know) but it was mostly refreshing (I can’t speak for those not under table cloths).  Big Boi was interesting and really fun, but I was ready for more Biscuits.  Instead of lasers they had these giant LED cubes on which they had video of all kinds of things that went along with the songs, which I’ll elaborate on.  They had the candy striped lights and confetti lights, as well as many other special little designs that made for a fantastic evening visually.  Highwire was very fitting as an opener for the first set of their third time playing Red Rocks.  Nothing crazy for this version, but a solid standalone opener always.  I guess Barber didn’t know the setlist because he told the audience that they were in for a treat, a song written by Mike Lansing (Bombs), and then was corrected that it wasn’t till later in the show.  They went straight into Spraypaint, which is a fantastic song and worked well at Red Rocks.  My friend who was experiencing Red Rocks and The Disco Biscuits for the first time was ecstatic and loving every minute of it, which made me overjoyed.  The whole band was on point for the entire first set, with each taking their respective lead at times, and flowing together at other times.

The Spraypaint jam was light but worked its way into deep and dark territory.  The whole band was clicking at this moment, and being where we were in the stadium, the sound completely took over my body.  It was really amazing and the Biscuits seemed to carry everyone away.  I heard later that alot of the crowd was younger and there to see Rusko, but I had no idea about anyone else except our group.  Barber played an upward driving guitar line that led right into the end of a huge inverted Digital Buddha.  I’ve been on a Buddha kick lately so I had high hopes for a raging version.  Everything is just a bit better at Red Rocks, and I really got down with my tie-dye tapestry draped all over me.  The jam out of Buddha was slow to build up and dragged for a few minutes until they found their groove again.  Barber started this lick that  pushed the whole band to a new space, that allowing them to really build up the song to an amazing peak.  The lights were capturing each moment the band reached with absolute perfection, and they found their way into Cyclone right as a light drizzle started.  They worked through the composed part with ease and then went back down into another slow building jam that took some time to gain steam.  That is part of my only complaint for the weekend: that they would build and then just drop off until they could pull it together into a driving jam.  Normally I would like this, but it wasn’t done with patience.  The band quickly got back in the groove of the Cyclone jam and focused on a strong trancey sound for the rest of the song.  This slowly morphed into the end of Confrontation, which was easily my favorite part of the set.  I really love inverted Confrontations and they always place it perfectly in a set.  Spraypaint into inverted Buddha then into an instrumental jam into an inverted confrontation and into the ending of Spraypaint (which is one of my favorite ways to end a set) is just so smart in terms of setlist writing.  Such a strong opening set for Red Rocks.

I didn’t particulary enjoy Rusko, but a lot of the younger kids there fucking loved it.  I mostly just chilled, but once Rusko was over almost the entire place emptied out.  There were only a few people in the front two rows, and I was told the back was similar, so whomever was left was definitely there to see the Biscuits.   King Of The World started the second set with great energy; even though it was a short version, Barber kept it super funky and gave the song extra umph.  The screens above the band flashed images of Mohammad Ali, which was fitting.  The song never ventured away from the main riff and ended up being a stand alone, a constant trend lately.  Everyone around me was excited for the next song, Story Of The World, and they easily and flawlessly knocked out the composed section.  SOTW jam dropped into a sound that has come out of Story recently: a nice funky dance groove that kept with the energy from King Of The World.  PT says that they finished Story but they didn’t.  Instead, they built the jam up, peaked, and then segued right into Helicopters.  Right when they were going into the main Helicopter verse, the screens hanging above the band had images of Black Hawk helicopters flying in.  Most of the time the screens had a burning Biscuit symbol on it, or were colorful designs, except for these specific moments.  The jam for Helicopters got very dark and trancey, with Barber focusing on chords similar to the Orch Theme jam from the first night.  Brownie laid down a very fitting bass line that captivated me completely.

The band spent the rest of the song building the jam into Bombs, which I assumed they would save for Red Rocks (and confirming Barber’s earlier Mike Lansing comment).  The composed part of Bombs is long, and after they worked through that they ventured into a slower, floaty type of jam that left everyone spinning around and gracefully swaying side to side.  Of course, this didn’t last too long, and they found their way back into the dark trance that was present throughout the whole show.  Before I knew it the band slid right into Run Like Hell, which was exciting because I knew a good friend who wanted to hear that above all else.  A huge Run Like Hell ensued and ended up being my favorite part of the night!  Some people said that Barber was falling off and getting sloppy, but I never found myself displeased with his playing…maybe I am just too much of a Barber lover.  The jam out of Run Like Hell went up and down with a good mixture of raging peaks and melodic  cohesiveness from the whole band.  I heard a faint sound that reminded me of Spacebird, and sure enough, they flowed beautifully right into the uplifting beginning.  Just hearing Spacebird at Red Rocks was beyond perfect; the jam worked itself into intense space territory, and there were times when Barber seemed to lose focus but, as usual, always found his way back into the mix of things, building to a great peak and into the end of the song.  They sounded as if they were going to stop at the end of Spacebird but instead they carried it on into the end of Helicopters, which I should have known would happen.

Magner came in with a huge, heavy heavy synth sound that propelled the jam into Helicopters peak, and the band finished the set strong.  The band came out for the encore at about 1:15 so I knew it was going to be quite a big one.  The opening notes of Jigsaw Earth made myself and everyone else oh so happy!  Another good friend had been wanting to hear Jigsaw for a while now, so he was on cloud nine and feeding off the great energy all around.  Barber flubbed the lines multiple times in the song though, which didn’t please anyone, but he got back on the horse and I found myself being far less judgmental than those around me.  The jams in Jigsaw were a bit stale for me at that point in the night, and were far too similar to everything else i had heard that night.  They worked their way into Catalyst, which actually stood out for me.  The band has made this song a beast, and they completely owned the jam in and out of it, fitting perfectly in the middle of Jigsaw.  Barber seemed inspired with his playing, and I could tell the difference between his focus on the new songs versus the same ones he has been playing for the past 13 years.   The band finally worked right back into the end of Jigsaw and Allen got to take a great drum solo.  This was such a highlight because Allen finally got some amazing recognition for the beast that he is!  After the encore, everyone sort of stood around in awe until we worked our way back down to the cars and ventured out into the night.  My group found our way to an amazing afterparty in downtown Denver where we completely owned the whole place.  A perfect way to end the night and the weekend!

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