City Bisco Makes its Mark on The Festival Circuit

Marc Brownstein

Since Camp Bisco came and went in the early days of July, it seems all anyone could talk about was the return of City Bisco at the end of September and it only seemed right that the Disco Biscuits host the two day festival in their own hometown of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.   The Mann Center was the perfect venue to host the variety of fantastic artists that the Disco Biscuits brought together for the weekend.

The lots of the Mann Center were filled with people tailgating, looking for tickets and peddling various Philadelphia themed Disco Biscuits merchandise while the gates were packed with people creating a relatively long wait to get searched and get inside. Getting searched upon arrival to the festival was a lot like going through security at an airport – patrons were made to take their shoes, jackets and hats off while they were searched thoroughly by each security member. Every orifice of your backpack, purse or wallet was turned inside out to ensure you weren’t smuggling in drugs or weapons. It was definitely excessive, but it’s better to be safe than sorry. Once inside of the venue, fans were in the middle of both stages with long winding stairs leading to both. Having two separate stages inside of a venue like this definitely worked for what was trying to be accomplished. The skyline tent showcased many up and coming artists while the main stage held all the larger acts and from the top of the hill standing outside of the tent, you could see a beautifully perfect view of the Philadelphia skyline.

Philly based DJs Risky and Disko took on the skyline tent with their dance worthy beats that warmed up the crowd for the long night to come. Each song bounced between a heavy house influence and the underlying presence of disco – definitely an interesting pair to bring to the stage. Following was Twiddle, whose popularity and fanbase is ever growing as they finish their long and extensive summer festival run and begin their Fall Tour throughout the country. Their set was nothing short of phenomenal, as they busted out their fast and energetic tunes to get the crowd ready for the Disco Biscuits on main stage.

Emancipator

The main stage at the Mann Center left nothing to be desired, as the entire area was completely open allowing a perfect breeze to sweep through the arena, with impeccable sound no matter where you chose to stand or sit. When the Disco Biscuits took stage the crowd was immediately alive with waves of intensity. Opening with “Basis For A Day”, which could have turned even the biggest Biscuits skeptic into a believer – what the band would break out of their jam into was impossible to tell until well into the song. The “Basis” that was played at City Bisco was one that will unarguably go down in Disco Biscuits history, as it was biggest highlight of night one and perhaps the entire festival. Fan favorite “Story of the World” followed to remind everyone in the crowd why they had waited so long to see these guys take stage again. The lasers that have become a staple to Disco Biscuits shows only intensified the brilliant jams the Biscuits were throwing down at the Mann Center. For an almost entirely open venue, the lasers spanned the crowd wall to wall.

Disco Biscuits

In between sets from RedMan and Method Man were probably not the highlight of the festival, but it was still surreal to be seeing these two legends take the stage at a Disco Biscuits festival. The performance consisted of a lot of hype crew yelling but very little music or rapping. For a hip-hop performance the crowd had little to no energy at all, due perhaps to the excessive amount of energy that set 1 drained from the crowd, but it was still a little disappointing. The second set of The Disco Biscuits was much slower than the first and was highlighted by a quick tease of “Theme from Shaft” and a pretty decent “Reactor> Floes”, the latter of which got a little sloppy towards the end as it seemed like the entire band was trying their best to get back onto the same page by segueing back into the groove of “Reactor”. First night held no encore, which was disappointing but also perhaps for the best with the whole next day of music to be seen.

The Disco Biscuits

Saturday was a beautiful day in Philadelphia and Fairmount Park was filled with people, eager to get into the Mann for part two of an epic weekend. The skyline tent was the place to be  throughout the afternoon, for every artist that took stage kept the energy levels high and the crowd dancing. Cosmic Dust Bunnies took the stage first, bringing their typical high energy bouncy, psychedelic grooves to the skyline tent. Pimps of Joytime and Pigeons Playing Ping Pong also threw down well-received sets in the tent from the large, energetic crowds. It was definitely great to see all of the up and coming bands get so much love from the crowd. Emancipator and Gigamesh both had amazing sets on the main stage before the Disco Biscuits took stage for their last two sets of the weekend.

The Disco Biscuits appeared with another explosion of energy as the crowd filed quickly in from the outskirts of the Mann. First set was on fire opening with “Hope” and following it with a dynamic and energetic “Caterpillar”. There was never a dull moment during first set, at one point the band trailed off into a instrumental “Tom Sawyer” jam that was not only extremely surprising but also well executed. Jon “The Barber” Gutwillig slammed on his guitar in such a way that his ax channeled the vocals of Rush’s Geddy Lee while Marc Brownstein filled in with the epic unforgettable Rush bass line. They finished the set with a segue back into “Caterpillar” before setbreak.

Shpongle

Simon Posford of Shpongle took stage during set break for the Disco Biscuits. Shpongle is perhaps one of the most eclectic and talented bands on the music scene these days and if you are lucky enough to get to see them perform with their live band, you’ll understand exactly what that means. Shpongle has made it an art form to capture abstract concepts and feelings so as to portray them through their psychedelic DMT fueled music. The set was great, Simon opened with a few of his new songs from the new album Museum of Consciousness and played some of their more popular older songs as well. The crowd seemed very lackluster about the entire set and most people stayed seated which was strange for a Shpongle show. It seems as though when playing this type of music for a crowd, DJ sets just simply cannot and do not to the music any justice. The intricate layerings of each individual song are so complex that simply watching Simon spin the tracks on stage does not actually put into perspective how phenomenal each piece of music is.

The second and final Disco Biscuits set of the weekend ended on a high note with a set covering all facets of the Disco Biscuits talents. “Mindless Dribble” was certainly one of the highlights of the second set with a Daft Punk “Get Lucky” jam and a “Disco Inferno” bust out. They took stage one last time for their encore of “Frog Legs” into a tease of “Run Like Hell.” The encore was a little lackluster considering how full of energy the entire weekend had been, but you really can’t complain with a “Frog Legs.” All of the artists performed at such full force all weekend it was certainly worth the trip to the city of brotherly love. City Bisco is definitely a staple to the festival season and the perfect installment to the much-loved Camp Bisco. After waiting months and months in anticipation for City Bisco, it was a little sad to leave Philadelphia. Lucky for us all, New Years run is right around the corner.