The set started out around 8pm, with lush, jazzy guitar-bass-drum jams. By quarter till 10, when the band announced that they were taking a fifteen-minute intermission, bubbly synth undertones had begun to show their faces, and the beats supporting the airy guitar soloing and low-end bass foundation had grown fiercer. The Disco Biscuits were just getting warmed up.
When they retook the stage at 10:15 (okay, it was a half-hour intermission instead of fifteen minutes.they’re forgiven.), the music kicked right back up to speed. The ever-growing electronic end of the DB’s sound swelled in intensity, adopting a hard trance vibe, as the packed crowd at Wilmington’s Kahunaville Summerstage erupted in a dancing frenzy. Welcome to Bisco Knights.
The Disco Biscuits are a highly original group that formed back in 1995 at U-Penn. Their sound encompasses a barrage of genres: jazz, blues, and jam-band rock, with an electronica backbone. But because their styles of choice are all heavily improvisational, it was essentially written for live performance. Recordings like this year’s They Missed The Perfume (Megaforce Records) are innovative and intriguing, but pale in comparison to seeing the band in concert. In front of a crowd, songs like Perfume’s kickoff number “Highwire” escape the constraints of the 6-minute studio version, and stretch well up to a half-hour. Each night the band tries to put a different spin on their compositions as well, coming up with new licks and loops (or incorporating timeless ones; they often borrow themes from classical music when improvising) to keep the song fresh.
Their two-day Bisco Knights festival in Wilmington (August 25 and 26) was intended as a grand kickoff for their fall tour, and didn’t disappoint.
Featuring like-minded techno-jammers The New Deal and Lake Trout, as well as DJ’s Josh Wink and Prince Paul, the show drew attendees from as far away as Vermont. Their performance (two sets and two encores) on the second night didn’t finish till after midnight — 3 and a half freakin’ hours — and if that isn’t an impressive enough feat, the previous day they had them performing three sets. Five sets in two days, fans travelling long distances to see them, a firm foundation in musical technique as well as a desire to do something fiercely original — are the Disco Biscuits a Greatful Dead for the new millennium? Time will tell. But in the meantime, get up to North Jersey this weekend and witness the phenomenon for yourselves!
The Disco Biscuits; September 9 at the State Theater; 19 Livingston Ave.; New Brunswick, NJ; (732) 246-7469; doors at 6:30pm