The Disco Biscuits rolled through Portland, Maine on Friday for the first show of their two- night run at the State Theater, a hidden gem of a venue hiding in the streets of the Port City. Fans of the Biscuits toughed some wintery weather left over from Thursday night’s Nor’easter to get to the show, but the State’s cozy vibe quickly got everyone in the mood for some live music.
New England-based band Strange Machines kicked off the night with one of their newer songs “Wook in a Onesie” and continued grooving out with some of their funkier songs during the set. They employed their patience while jamming and really built up the energy for an impressive opening set, which ended with the fan favorite “Klepto.”
The Disco Biscuits came out swinging, throwing down a 65-minute M.E.M.P.H.I.S. > Voices Insane > Spaga > Pygmy Twylyte > Spaga, with M.E.M.P.H.I.S. and the first section of Spaga being the highlights of the opening segment. “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” got the crowd warmed up quickly as the band blew through the chorus and got straight into some weird, deep space jamming that featured Magner heavily using some of the weirder sides of his many synthesizers. Barber made a switch from his Gibson ES-135 to his Parker Fly, and the band started picking up the pace of the jam, lifting it into a sort of mini-peak before they started building on a theme that Barber was creating. After a bit more spacious jamming, they brought the jam into “Voices Insane”, while still maintaining the groove from the “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” jam going rather than playing the normal tempo of the song.
“Voices Insane” was a pretty standard version, and after a killer solo from Barber, the band transitioned into “Spaga,” starting off with a piano solo from Magner. “Spaga” transported the whole crowd into a medieval wonderland with its lyrics and jazzy instrumental sections, and the band quickly dove into a dark jam. Brownie and Allen kept the groove tight, and Barber created another motif that the band followed into the first big peak of the night, which transitioned back into the fantasy sound that “Spaga” introduced. After another verse, the band segued into their fan-favorite cover of Frank Zappa’s “Pygmy Twylyte” which was met by an eruption of cheers from everyone in the theater. The whole crowd sang along and grooved out until the jam started to get spacey. Magner took an extended synth solo and led everyone back into “Spaga” which peaked yet again after all the energy they built up in “Pygmy”. They ended the segment with one last high energy chorus of “Spaga” and then played “Wet” to close out the set, which featured a tight mini bass and drum jam from Brownie & Allen, and ended with another great solo from Barber.
The second set featured two inverted songs, and was a nonstop 102-minute segment of Story of the World > 42 (inverted) > Lunar Pursuit > Naeba (inverted) > Tricycle > Story of the World. The upbeat “Story of the World” kicked the set off, with the jam starting off with one of the funkier sections of the night, initiated by Magner getting into some Clav playing. The jam was driven heavily by the duo of Brownie and Allen and was transformed into a dark trance jam once Allen started using his electronic drum pad to create the beat. You could tell that the band was feeling it, as they teased the audience with what seemed like it was the peak before dropping back into the jam, only to actually bring it to a peak minutes later. They used the high energy from the SOTW peak to transition into the end of “42”, signaling that the song was inverted, which was met with another eruption of cheers from the crowd. Brownstein took the lead on vocals for the first time of the night and worked through the many verses and choruses of the song before getting back into the jam that started the song off.
After grooving along for a bit, Magner played a siren sound that brought the segment into “Lunar Pursuit” which brought with it the first instances of Allen triggering laser beam noises from his drum pad. After a quick peak and a spacey reggae section, they moved into an inverted version of “Naeba” > “Tricycle.” “Naeba” was a nice laid back break from the intensity of “42 ” > “Lunar Pursuit,” and after they’d played through to the beginning of “Naeba”, which was an almost heavenly arpeggiated guitar progression from Barber, they transitioned into the dance party that is “Tricycle.” They kept “Tricycle” nice and spacey while Allen kept the electronic dance beat going. The band built the energy up for one last big peak before segueing back into the set opener “Story of the World” for another verse and chorus to close the set out.
They encored with “On Time,” which sounded like it could be the theme to an 80’s action film. The whole band was having fun being the head of the dance party, especially Magner, who was going off with a vocoder effect from one of his synths. They did one more little spacey jam before Brownie brought the whole band into the last chorus and ended the song.
As a first Disco Biscuits experience, this show was incredible. The audience was feeling it, and you could tell that the band was locked in with each other during some of the bigger jams like “Spaga” and “Story of the World”.
Set 1: M.E.M.P.H.I.S. > Voices Insane > Spaga > Pygmy Twylyte > Spaga, Wet
Set 2: Story of the World > 42 (inverted) > Lunar Pursuit > Naeba (inverted) > Tricycle > Story of the World
Encore: On Time