Review: The Disco Biscuits Finish Strong

The first set opened up with an unexpected and well-executed Helicopters with a steadily built up jam. It was classic Biscuits and it was interesting to hear as a stand-alone song. The jam into Run Like Hell, however, was what the Disco Biscuits are all about. Anyone who was at their first show that night would find it hard to not call themselves a fan after this impressive rendition of the Pink Floyd classic. They started the jam slowly and methodically, building steam with every note, and the result was easily the highlight of the first set. The jam segued from Run Like Hell into an unfinished Spacebird with straight four-on-the-floor pounding untz. The crowd was then treated to a rare and very short Humu. This was old school Biscuits, and you could see the smile on bassist Marc Brownstein’s face from across the room. The set ended with a jam back into Run Like Hell, and the sweat box that was Headliner’s emptied quite rapidly for a run on fresh air and cigarettes.

The second set opened up with few more stand-alone tunes and some funky slap bass during a stellar Bernstein and Chasnoff. The jam featured some wonderful interplay between guitarist Jon Gutwillig and keyboardist Aron Magner. B&S was followed by a Chemical Warfare Brigade. The jams were stellar in both of those tunes, but nothing seemed to compare to that level of energy until a stellar Aceetobee.

This version of Aceetobee was without a doubt a highlight of the night with a raging jam led by drummer Allen Aucoin. Aucoin, who joined the band in late 2005, has clearly found his groove with the band, and the band has really started to reach new levels as this has been happening. The second set ended on a mellow note with Mirrors, a newer tune led with some beautiful shredding from Gutwillig. For encore the band threw one more raging dance party with a Caterpillar with a jam led by Brownstein and Aucoin.

The City of Louisville was a great time with some great people, but in the morning it was time to say goodbye to “Derby City” for a nice and short drive to Covington for round two. Just across the river was the Cincinnati Skyline and even though we were still in Kentucky there was no shortage of spaghetti-chili establishments. The venue was slightly larger than the night before, and aside from a slight problem regarding security not knowing the rules and removing a certain photographer from the show for doing nothing wrong, it was a great little theater.

The first set of this show seemed to be the low point of the run. It lacked the same energy as the night before. There was a fun jam from Crystal Ball opener into Voices Insane, but it was the jam out of Voices that led to the highlight of the set. It also gave a glimpse into one of the aspects that makes The Disco Biscuits such a unique band, an inverted version of The Overture. An inversion normally occurs out of a jam from one song, into the ending of a new song. The song will then pick up at the beginning section after the ending is played. The jam form The Overture is what finally had all the members really clicking for the first time all night before transitioning back into Voices. The set ended with a newer song, Uber Glue, which features a catchy synth line from Magner, but overall it is still not too well received.

Any energy the first set lacked was more than made up for by the smoker of a second set. After a Rivers opener, the band played a huge And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night, sandwiching both Orch Theme and the middle verse of Above The Waves before transitioning back into the end of Ladies. This whole section of the show featured Jon Gutwillig laying down some of his most beautiful playing of the run. When Gutwillig is really on his game, it makes the Biscuits an absolute pleasure to watch. The encore ran easily over twenty minutes with the Phishy sounding The Very Moon before finishing up Spacebirdmatingcall from the previous night.

Two nights and two shows down, and aside from the absence of late night food in Covington, the time spent just across the river from Cincinnati could not have been much better. The drive from Covington to Asheville made the next part of trip worth it in itself… throw in The Disco Biscuits and it’s a no brainer. The stretch from Knoxville to Asheville on I-40 is one of the most the most beautiful stretches of road in this great country, and being able to see so much of this great country is one of the greatest things about following a band around.

Asheville is easily one of the headiest places in America. It’s beautiful, the people are all friendly and the music is awesome. Whether it is a local bluegrass band playing on the street outside of a pub, or some national touring act that is there on almost any given night, you are guaranteed to find something to make you bob your head in this great city.

The third show, and winter/spring tour closer, was by far the best night of music out of the run. The Thomas Wolfe Auditorium is a beautiful venue located right in downtown Asheville. The place was only about two thirds of the way full, but the venue was also twice the size of either Kentucky show. The size of the crowd made it very easy to walk around and check out the show from different areas. The lines were quickly moving and the staff was very personable.

The show opened up with a Morph Dusseldorf sandwiching Basis For A Day. Morph is a great choice to open.  It’s up tempo and it’s always a treat to hear Brownstein open up with a little slap bass. Following the end of Morph, they broke into a stellar version of Caves of the East. Out of nowhere during the Caves jam, Gutwillig transitioned into the beginning of Hot Air Balloon and the crowd went absolutely nuts. Balloon is a fan favorite, and a straight up jam vehicle. The jam into Gangster was easily one of the best jams of the entire three night run with a peaking untz jam immediately out of Hot Air Balloon to lead into it. The dirty jams continued thru Gangster and right back into Balloon to end the set.

Set two opened up with Mirrors, The only song that was repeated during the three night run. It was pretty much the same as Louisville but it was nice to hear, and the crowd enjoyed it. Aron Magner melted nearly every face in the venue with his dirty synth riffs during the Strobelights and Martinis, which segued nicely into a huge The Great Abyss. The whole venue was rocking and really feeling the band during the whole second set.  They nailed I-Man while Gutwillig walked across the stage, rocking to the fans. Then, they took the jam back into Basis For a Day before taking the only break of the set. The band quickly picked back up with M.E.M.P.H.I.S. featuring a heavy bass-driven jam led by Brownstein. They eventually took the high energy jams back into I-Man, with lyrics from The City, leaving everybody floored to finish the set. The tour was closed out with a perfect 10 minutes of Shelby Rose. It was a great encore to finish off a stellar three day run, and a 2009 winter/spring tour.

04/25/09 Thomas Wolfe Auditorium, Asheville, NC
Set I: Morph Dusseldorf> Basis For A Day> Morph Dusseldorf, Caves of the East> Hot Air Balloon> Gangster> Hot Air Balloon
Set II: Mirrors> Strobelights and Martinis> The Great Abyss> I-Man> Basis For A Day, M.E.M.P.H.I.S.> Cyclone> I-Man1
Encore: Shelby Rose

1 with “The City” lyrics

04/24/09 Madison Theater, Covington, KY
Set I: Hope, Crystal Ball> Voices Insane> The Overture1> Voices Insane, Uber Glue
Set II: Rivers, And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night> Orch Theme> Above The Waves2> And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night, Once The Fiddler Paid, 7-11> Highwire> 7-11> Highwire
Encore: The Very Moon> Spacebirdmatingcall3

1 inverted
2 middle section only
3 completes 4/23 version

04/23/09 Headliners Music Hall, Louisville, KY
Set I: Helicopters, Home Again, Run Like Hell> Spacebirdmatingcall1> Humuhumunukunukuapua’a> Run Like Hell
Set II: Bernstein And Chasnoff, Chemical Warfare Brigade, Rockafella> High Speed Racer, Aceetobee, Mirrors
Encore: Caterpillar

1 unfinished

– Setlists courtesy of www.phantasytour.com

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