The Disco Biscuits Throw Down (and Back) at Irving Plaza

The Disco Biscuits recently completed a brief three night run through New York City at a venue that didn’t seem to befit these monsters of the jam scene. Ditching their usual spacious confines of Best Buy Theatre in Times Square, the group instead opted for a throwback of sorts with the location moving downtown to the approximate 1,000 person capacity Irving Plaza. This was a curious move for a band that could easily sell out venues twice the size of this, but it did make for a highly spirited and energetic performance that surely reminded the musicians and certain audience members of a time when rooms like this were the norm.

The Philly based rockers wasted no time in getting down to business with a blistering ‘Save the Robots’ intro that settled nicely into a slow, extended jam before the next composed section that gave everyone a chance to get their bearings or attempt to carve out space on the cramped floor. Another lengthy jam then followed, anchored by stellar drum and bass play by Allen Aucoin and Marc Brownstein, respectively. Despite a ‘Crickets’-like buildup, the frenzied jam soon came to a boil and the band shifted directions into one of their oldest and most iconic songs, ‘Aceetobee’. This old school Bisco classic saw a composed section that was stretched out, played to perfection and then followed by a fascinating psychedelic jam that had elements ranging from ambient to funk rock. Eventually, the music “normalized” to a degree as keyboardist Aron Magner took control of things and led the way through a seamless segue to yet another Biscuits classic, ‘Mr. Don’. This segue and the driving, pulsating jam that followed was truly some of the best music in this set with the light rig now in full gear and taking advantage of the close walls and light fixtures. The entire run at Irving Plaza had been highlighted by four song first sets and The Disco Biscuits showed tonight would be no different by ending things with one more transition into the ending of yet another classic original number, ‘Magellan’. With a first set that could’ve been plucked right from the pages of a late 90’s setlist (as the previous night’s was) now in the books, setbreak gave everyone a change to get hydrated, refuel and set the bar high for hopes of what was to come.

The second set opened, appropriately enough, with ‘The Overture’, a song based on classical music structure that has the group’s signature style of electronica thrown on the end of it. The mesmerizing, laser light filled jam that followed seemed to delight both audience and band members as the music reached deep levels of electronic improvisation. Jon Gutwillig’s signature guitar lick signaling the beginning of ‘Gangster’ soon rang through the already saturated room that unleashed a new intensity to both the music and light show. Right on cue, the band then steered things right into one of their most renowned and associated covers, Pink Floyd’s ‘Run Like Hell’. Gutwillig continued to take the lead on the outtro jam that featured some truly impressive soloing on his part. After yet another ‘Crickets’ jam fakeout, the Biscuits continued to honor the old school vibe and then launched into perhaps one of their oldest songs, ‘Pat and Dex’, which brought a noticeable roar from knowledgeable veteran fans. The completion of ‘Pat and Dex’ marked the first time the band finished a song and stopped playing without transitioning into something else, an impressive feat. Perhaps due to the increasingly humid temperature in the room, the band seemed to lose just a little bit of steam in finishing the second set with an unfinished ‘Shem-Rah-Boo’ that meandered for a little while before a noticeable ‘Life During Wartime’ jam took over. This gave to way to another older song in the form of an inverted ‘Bernstein & Chasnoff’ that was well-played and then capped with a ‘Run Like Hell’ ending. This offered one last impressive display of music and light symmetry that seemed to put a bow on an impressive night of music that saw the band play a number of older and classic songs with all the electronic fury and technical prowess they have at their disposal today.