It has been a freezing snowy winter all across the United States this chilly season. The temperatures have been unusually cold and the snow fall has set records in several places. Many of us summer festival and tour lovers needed some refuge after our outrageous New Year’s Eve experiences. The Disco Biscuits love to play music for their adoring fan base in Colorado, just like every other band. The four night stand that was carefully planned is always a real treat for the enormous following of good music here in the Denver/Boulder area. It was time for a Winter Inferno; and the Biscuits were ready to bring it to us, playing some of their best shows in awhile. Bassist, Marc Brownstein even commented on it on a social network forum saying how to him they have sounded better than they have in a while. I completely agree. The last few trips to Colorado have produced some of the best shows in their history. Their playing and connectedness has been seemless like pulling silk out of a cocoon or simultaneous breathing. My tai chi teacher, Bataan Faigao, used to tell us that breathing during tai chi or meditation should be slow and steady like pulling silk out of a cocoon. When a band is completely together, I often get that visual. Unfortunately, I missed the two Ogden Theatre shows, but I was so ready for the arena show that guitarist, Jon “the Barber” Gutwillig aka Barbershreds warned fans to avoid missing.
Infected Mushroom opened the show and got the crowd warmed up. As I was waiting in the photo pit for the show to start, I noticed that the arena looked empty, but it was not for long. The minute the band walked on stage, the arena filled to the opening notes of a jam that lead to “Gangster.” It has been almost exactly a year since they played the song in Colorado, and it always seems to be the perfect warm-up. It is almost as if the fingers need to run up and down some scales as they slowly climb to a crescendo that peaks at an old favorite that always brings me back to my Philly roots called “Mindless Dribble.” This twenty-two minute epic song is chock full of sweet changes that tickle one’s senses. It was the longest song of the night, and the journey that the listener is on is an on your toes funky escape, where the dancer is invited to forsake all inhibitions, let go, and feel the music. By the middle of the song, everyone is more than warmed up, and the music sounds like someone spinning down into a staircase and falling into a peaceful sunset then back to an exploding crescendo right into “Spacebirdmatingcall.” The band’s should be patented “untz” is in full effect during this song, and Johnny R. Goode (JRG3), lighting engineer, turns out the spectacle when the beat drops and the untz pops. Drummer Allen Aucoin smacked the intro of “Pilin’ it High” and the technically intricate rapid fire weaving of drums and bass flutters so fast, I often wonder if Aucoin can fly. After nearly an hour of straight playing with not even the slightest pause, Brownstein addressed the crowd, and my friend, whose first show it was turned to me and said, “This is the first time that they’ve stopped since the show started. I’ve never seen anything like that.” Needless to say, he was impressed and instantly hooked. Then they closed the first set with Brownstein slapping into the classic that takes me back to my ’97-’98 days at La Salle University, “Little Betty Boop.”
The second set started just as it left off, with “Above the Waves,” which literally sounds like surfing or a tide going in and coming back out. Then, the dance party just did not stop until the show was over. The lights were amazing during this set, reflecting off of the disco ball right into the friends and family section, which was full of some of my favorite people on earth. The Biscuits family is one of the most intelligent, loving, and creative groups of people that I have ever met. The “Spraypaint” was unfinished, and the “Confrontation,” one of my favorites to dance to was inverted. During “Confrontation > Cyclone,” a crazy guy in his boxers decided to sneak up from behind Aron Magner and say to him something like, “Yeah Magner, let’s rage!” Then, he nearly knocked the whole keyboard over as he fell over the top of it and off the stage. Quickly security guards descended upon him, and he was taken off. It was totally uncalled for and not cool at all obviously. The band quickly recovered and many even said that they did not even know that it happened, which is a testament of the band’s propensity for constant improvisation. Coincidentally, but maybe not, they played Pink Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” after the incident. After the dust settled, the Biscuits went back into the happy “Above the Waves.” The final song in the second set was “House Dog Party Favor.” This is another layered composition with many different parts.
Before the encore, Brownstein once again gleamed to Colorado and said, “Let’s light this place up like it’s a fuckin’ Peter Tosh show right now. Right? Colorado smoke it if you got it. You lucky bastards.” A few years ago he promised that if he ever got caught with it again in another state then he would move to Colorado. I do not hope that he does get caught, but it would be great if he joined so many of his friends out here and collaborated with the many talented musicians this area has to offer. Then, appropriately they played “Nughuffer.” And in the song, he said, “Colorado, you lucky ducks. We wanted to come out here and play a “Nughuffer” to celebrate with you guys this incredible advancement in the culture of the United States, where Colorado said, ‘Enough is enough. Legalize it.’ And I love the spirit that you guys out here got sick of getting arrested for something that everybody does, and you made it so that you can’t get arrested for that shit anymore. Good fucking job Colorado. Good job. And we are all going to watch the rest of the country follow suit.” After, he explained how the band broke the “space pipe” that has been in and out of the country for eight years. Patrick Hutchinson on sound got a shout out because he must have found it in three pieces. Finally, the Colorado spirited chant began into the funkiest dance party Magner lead with his Star Wars type Stevie Wonder sounds, and the crowd was moving feverishly. This climax had even their most loyal fans grab their heads in awe. Many claimed that this night was the best night of the run because of the “Nughuffer > Helix.” Some said that the next night under the name Tractor Beam, where the band plays instrumentally at the Fox Theater in Boulder was better, but overall, I think I heard that most chose this night to be the best of the run. Who can argue? The show ended with a quick “Helicoptors” that left people spinning. I wish I could catch them in a few days in my old stomping grounds in Philadelphia, but I will wait to thaw out at the Inferno at Red Rocks in the spring, I hope. In the meantime, do not miss Conspirator when they come out here in March, even though they are playing the same night as Mike Gordon in Boulder. I wish that the times were split so that it was possible to take in both, hint hint. This current two season Inferno tradition has spoiled us, but if I may speak for everyone, I do not want it to stop.