Review: Disco Biscuits – Halloween Show

Next came a new song called Pimp Blue Rikki in which guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig sings over a slow repetitive riff. The jam was short without venturing beyond the song’s boundaries before an awkward abrupt ending. Flash Mob was next, which is another instrumental that has only been in the band’s repertoire for a few months. Marc Brownstein puts down his bass and cues eerie samples of a woman’s voice on his laptop. The pace is slower and can easily be confused with a Sound Tribe Sector 9 song. Another short and sweet jam with nothing to write home about.

The music basically came to a stop as the four noodled their way into the opening notes of Mindless Dribble. Now was the chance for the band to get into their groove after what seemed to be a pretty sluggish start to the set. The crowd pumped their fists in the air as they sung along to the chorus. After the bouncy Apple Butter Toast section, the boys quickly got down to business. Barber led an explosive jam with some great interplay by Aron Magner on keys before slowing things down into a segue of Caves of the East.

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This was another appropriate instrumental with a truly dark and evil theme. Tonight, the band did not include the hip-hop samples that previous versions this year had. Instead, the Biscuits got creepy with Barber producing some spacey effects with his pedal board. This was unmistakably a “Halloween Caves.”

As the band moves out of the Caves, the tempo speeds up and the fans anticipate the return into Dribble. Again, the four were completely locked in as they prepared to finish the song. After the ending of Dribble, they kept the energy soaring with a wonderful transition into the ending of Confrontation to close out the set. This was easily the highlight of what was a pretty average, but solid, first half.

After a huge dance party during setbreak provided by Bethany Lokken and Ben Silver of Chicago’s own DJ crew, Orchard Lounge, the band came back on stage with copies of their new EP, On Time, to hand out to the crowd. They opened the set with Stone > Devil’s Waltz to give the fans a glimpse of their older, classical side. Both songs were well executed, but did not include much improv at all.

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After Waltz, Brownstein said, “That was one of our oldest songs and now here’s one of our newest.” On Time: no surprises there. Even though the song is complete with poppy auto-tuned vocals ready for the radio, it has gotten a pretty good reception from the fans. It’s hard to deny the catchiness even if it is quite a deviation from the Biscuits’ normal songwriting.

The jam that followed was on point and with a purpose, as they tore through it in typical Bisco fashion. The transition into the beginning of Confrontation was a bit shaky, but the band quickly made up for it with the improvisation that followed.

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Without losing a beat, Marc dropped the signature bassline of Spraypaint and the rest of the band followed suit. After Barber sung the first few verses, they begun the jam without finishing the rest of song. Starting off quiet and patiently before building into the instrumental, Tempest, with Allen Aucoin providing the backbone on drums under Magner’s spacey synth leads. As quickly as it came, Tempest was done, and the Biscuits continued to tear through this segment with a drop into Tricycle that seemed to come from nowhere.

Even though the song only has the same few lines repeated over and over, it is a crowd favorite and never ceases to lack in energy. This too ended quickly and the boys seamlessly segued into another patient jam – one that was fun with all the members backing down to let Allen drive it home with a bouncy beat. Barber picked up the tempo and led the band into a scorching finish to Spraypaint.

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Finally, the band stops to let the crowd catch their breath after a non-stop marathon dance party that clocked in at over 50 minutes. However, the set was not over. It was Magner’s time to shine as he sung about “livin’ as a private eye” in Spy. After this inspired rendition, another song starts up. It takes a minute for the crowd to realize that the Biscuits are paying tribute to Chicago’s Smashing Pumpkins as Barber sings I Am One to close the set, all the way back from 1990. The crowd exploded in approval as the band exits the stage one last time before the encore.

The boys started up the beginning of Save the Robots and everyone knew that this was not going to be a run-of-the-mill encore. This was a dyslexic completion of the song as they played the ending the night before in Minneapolis.

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The jam dropped quickly and they wasted no time getting down to business. The crowd, which was roaring with excitement, would be surprised one last time as the band transitioned perfectly into the ending of Run Like Hell to complete the version from Kalamazoo, three nights prior. A very solid finish to the evening.

Overall, the second set and encore were much more focused than the first. Spraypaint > Tempest > Tricycle > Spraypaint featured the best improv of the show and gave a perfect example of what this band is capable of when they are 100% locked in. However, nothing was going to take away the fact that the Disco Biscuits were playing an absolutely gorgeous venue in arguably one of the country’s best cities.

Everyone inside the Auditorium knew that it was a special evening to witness and they truly seemed grateful for the opportunity. They were respectful of the venue and its staff members and not once did it seem as though they were being burdensome. Let’s hope the Disco Biscuits family are invited back next year!

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The Biscuits currently have seven more shows on their fall tour, including five dates in California. Then, they head back to Jamaica once again for Caribbean Holidaze with Umphrey’s McGee before another five-night New Year’s run in New York City at the Nokia Theatre. Also, keep an eye out for the new album, which is supposed to be released sometime in early 2010.

Auditorium Theatre, Chicago, IL
The Glitch Mob, Holy Fuck and Orchard Lounge opened.

Set I: Strobelights and Martinis, Pimp Blue Rikki, Flash Mob > Mindless Dribble > Caves of the East > Mindless Dribble > Confrontation*

Set II: Stone > The Devil’s Waltz, On Time > Confrontation* > Spraypaint > Tempest > Tricycle > Spraypaint, Spy, I Am One**

Enc: Save The Robots# > Run Like Hell##

Notes: * Dyslexic. ** First time played. # Dyslexic completion of 10/30 version. ## Completes 10/28 version.

Source: PhantasyTour.com via Jambands.com’s Box Scores

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