Disco Biscuits, Shpongle, & RJD2 Feed the Rocks for Earth Day
Earth Day is celebrated around the world by a billion people in several different ways. In some way or another many people no matter where they live take time out to observe and celebrate our resilient “mother.” Red Rocks is always the best location to see a concert no matter who you are seeing. But when a music lover gets the opportunity to see a rejuvenated Disco Biscuits with a supporting cast of Shpongle (Simon Posford) and RJD2 on a beautiful Colorado Saturday night, an epic scenario occurs that one will not forget. Feed the Rocks is an event put together by People Helping People, which raised money for a couple organizations but mostly, Denver Parks and Recreation. In their own words, “We are fortunate enough to live in one of the most incredible places in the world! A perfect spot to celebrate an Earth Day event in the place where people make great efforts to LNT (leave no trace) and keep CO a spectacular place to live.”
For several reasons, another being the quality and quantity of the most amazing music that one can desire, this night was a spectacle. Unfortunately, because the Red Rocks will call booth’s printer broke, there was an enormous line to get tickets and credentials, therefore, most people missed RJD2’s set, which I was really looking forward to seeing. But, most made it in for the start of Shpongle, and to another world we went. Simon Posford and Raja Ram have an uncanny ability to take the crowd throughout the world and beyond. Posford debuted two brand new songs, amongst a few international sounding staples. There was some of the hardest dancing of the night toward the end of the hour long set.
After a small break, as the sun was setting, the Disco Biscuits came on stage dancing and happier than I have seen them in years. Jon “Barber” Gutwillig, or as he prefers to be called now, Barbershreds, was dancing around the stage before any music was even played. That is how I knew this was going to be good. Deserving of that nickname on this particular night is an understatement. The flow of the opener was pristine, as the first noodling notes of the rare song “Spectacle” were performed softly, gently, and almost foreplay like. The song climaxed through a Barbershreds solo that peaked into an “Astronaut.” Their, keyboard player Aron Magner varied his space sounds so much that is sounded like an 80’s synth mixed with a bit from Stanley Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey.” The song went on to go unfinished, and the Biscuits danced into the old school “Shem-Rah Boo,” that Brownstein slapped his way into. This jam was chock full of amazing drum beats by the master Allen Aucoin and special guest Jeremy Salken from Big Gigantic. Only three songs in and the precision, energy, power, and smiles guaranteed that this was going to be the epic show that it turned out to be. As naturally as possible a dyslexic “42” was played for a short three minutes before they even took a breather. Then, the writer of the song bassist, Marc Brownstein, once again professed his love for Colorado reminding the crowd that of the seven shows that the band has played in 2013, all of them have been in Colorado. The excitement subsided for a few minutes as “Rockafella” was crooned. Finally, the beat dropped on “Morph Dosseldorph” and Brownstein slapped away again and introduced their good friend and “super homie” Dominic Lalli from Big Gigantic and formerly from the Motet to close the first set.
The Disco Biscuits came back to kick ass right where they left off jamming into their unfinished dyslexic “42.” The dance party was at full throttle just five minutes into this smokin’ set. I have not seen this band this fired up and dancing with one another while ripping in years. They always throw down at Red Rocks, but this was a brotherly love that ran deeper. Through “Lunar Pursuit” and into “Aceetobee” and “Tricycle” they were just unconscious on another level. The 70’s, space age, video game feel projected from the band was palpable. And in addition to what the band had going on, lighting engineer Johnny R. Goode has taken lighting to a whole new spectrum. The beautiful colors of the laser beams protruded not just from the stage, but onto the rocks were one of a kind. I do not believe that the music spirits at Red Rocks have ever seen anything like it. At one point, the entire width of the stage was shooting lasers hovering over the crowd, which actually looked like a make shift roof of lasers was covering the crowd. One could hear the oohs and aahs from the fans as the timing of the aurora eclipsed around the arena. Goode has redefined the possibilities and expanded the reaches of lighting. His innovation and hard work has put him into the top echelon of lighting engineers in the industry.
The erotic teasing of Barber’s guitar at the very end of “Lunar Pursuit” brought all the joy of watching this rock god again in his element. He even danced all around the stage as the multi genre “Aceetobee” jazzed and flowed through his body and fingers. They FELT the music tonight, and the crowd was grateful. The “Tricycle” ride kept the momentum going into a cover and play on words that they have never ventured into. The Trammps “Disco Inferno” was appropriately played next with Lalli as a special guest again. The play on words has to do with the fact that when they usually play at Red Rocks, it’s called Bisco Inferno. Their first attempt at this cover was funky and created the dance party to even kick up a notch. After some volume issues with Lalli’s saxophone subsided, he soloed till the end where Barber took over and soloed like that song has never heard. The black sheep of the show I saw in Atlantic City a year ago was my number one star of the night. Whatever depths he dug into on this night is the wave that Barber should ride on stage for the rest of his career. He looked, felt, and sounded like a rock star.
“Hope” gave the crowd a breather, but the masterful musical cat and mouse play of the end of the song built to a crescendo that left the crowd wanting more. Unfortunately, the next song, “And the Fiddler Paid” was the closer. I am not sure if Magner was teasing the Beatles “Norwegian Wood” in the beginning of the song or if it is usually part of the song, but I enjoyed the Beatles flair to the sweet vibe of this closer. The last part of night was a sweet moment between my friends and friends of the band Sam and Rachel. As Rachel displayed her sweet Biscuits cape, Sam got on his knees to propose.
The encore was “And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night.” One more dance party before we got in our cars to drive away with the memories of one of the most fun dance parties of 2013. The spring is forming into summer, and that means summer nights at Red Rocks will continue, but this night will surely not be forgotten. Aside from Camp Bisco, the Disco Biscuits annual festival, there is not many shows planned for them, but when they come around it is special. This night was epic is Disco Biscuit history, and hopefully the band’s mojo stays as high as it was tonight.