All words: Jeb Gavin — All photos: Joy Asico
The Disco Biscuits played the 9:30 Club Thursday night. That’s about the only statement I can make about this show not open to interpretation or debate. The more I talked to fans of the band (and detractors who for some reason still paid to see them live), this was alternately one of their best shows and at the same time their worst shows, ever. The two sets were either too jam heavy or not jammy enough, too trance-y or not trance-y enough, and somehow all possible variations in between those extremes. It seemed like the only people without a concrete opinion on the evening were the handful of kids pissing off the bouncers wandering on and off the steps out in front of the club, either circling around the edge of or having fallen head first into a k-hole halfway into the first song.
A cursory analysis of the more renowned jam bands indicates each band has a genre from which it draws ideas and material. While not overt, you can tell if you listen and see enough live shows who started out with a jazz background, or who started out playing folk and bluegrass, or in the case of the Disco Biscuits, trance. Granted, this vastly oversimplifies all jam bands, but it helps to explain when people tell you the Disco Biscuits play live trance music.
My most reputable disreputable sources strongly recommended against attending this show sober (being a dumb ass this meant I would of course try it,) telling me the band is oddly dull considering the eminently dance-able music they produce. He was spot on in his assessment. Like all jam bands, songs rolled one into another, occasionally teasing a new song only to go back or reprise a previously ended song. Apparently the Disco Biscuits further confuse casual listeners opting to break songs into chunks and playing them out of order or backwards. Songs roll one into another the two hour and a half long sets, and the crowd shouted what few lyrics there were.
The best part of the night was watching the folks disinterested in the jazzy intros and transitions amp themselves up whenever the band found a trance groove for ten minutes at a time, only to be crestfallen when the band would backslide. Likewise, there were folks bored by the electronic beats and riffing who would perk up the minute the band remembered they were in fact a jam band. I found the audience reactions almost as engrossing as the music, which is quite fun, albeit not particularly intellectual. Even though the band was on stage, it was almost as though they weren’t meant to be seen. An array of a dozen LED spots strafed the stage from above and below, undulating out over the crowd
like a neon red and purple sea anemone on the edge of a reef, attracting hippies and crunchy club kids in sunglasses. Despite my sobriety, I could’ve sworn at one point I saw giant robot dinosaurs stomping around on and behind the stage in the shadows where the robotic spots would interfere with one another.
More than anything, though, there was dancing. Everyone danced, regardless of their preferences and opinion on the set. Sweaty, hot as hell dancing on the floor and on the balconies and by the bars. Frankly, it was hard not to dance, what with the primacy of the music and the band standing around like furniture. It was a good night, long but good. That said, I’m not sure I’d do it again given a chance. Well, not unless I could ensure more robot dinosaurs in my line of sight.
Set 1: King Of The World (They teased Helicopters at first), Aceetobee > Tricycle > Aceetobee, Jigsaw Earth, Mindless Dribble > Helicopters
Set 2: Resurrection > Story Of The World, Voices Insane, Morph Dusseldorf> Abraxas > Morph Dusseldorf, I-Man