Standing a few feet from the stage as the smoke machine rolls in the fog, I turn to survey the crowd and immediately feel like Chief Broom standing in the Cuckoo's Nest with the rest of the asylum inmates. But soon the music is grabbing my soul and I realize it's just another Disco Biscuits show in Los Angeles, California.
The band hasn't played in Los Angeles since March, 2002 when they blew the roof off of the Whisky-A-Go-Go. But on the night of December 7, 2006, they picked up right where they left off, lighting up the Sunset Strip, albeit this time at the ROXY.
"Those shows at the Whisky were some of the best Biscuits I've ever heard. Tonight they totally lived up to that famed Triumph>Helicopters," remarked longtime fan, Colfax. "Tonight was pure Bisco."
To the casual observer, it might seem as if the Disco Biscuits play one song for hours at a time. They weave in and out of their extensive catalog, pausing on songs for fleeting moments, jamming, and then swooping seamlessly into another song, oftentimes starting the song in the middle. In the first set, they played only the beginning of long-time staple, Munchkin Invasion, and in the second set, they finished up Basis for a Day from the show a night earlier. It's no surprise that their fans resemble inmates. But make no mistake, the fans are just insane about the band. After all, to them, this IS the greatest band on the face of the earth.
New drummer Allen Aucoin made his California debut with the band, and from most accounts, his learning curve is exceeding expectations. Varying the style of the Disco Biscuits ever so slightly, he brings about the same passion and intensity that fan favorite Sam Altman did. And combined with keyboardist Aron Magner, guitarist Jon "the Barber" Gutwillig and bassist Marc Brownstein, Allen helps create the unmistakable feeling that fans refer to as "Bisco."
In the first set, Rock Candy>Save the Robots got the crowd's fists pumping and became the topic of much discussion at set break. There was a feeling that if the first set was that good, then the second set would be unadulterated Bisco. The second set began with a rare Once the Fiddler Paid, then Gutwillig began displaying his mastery in the sandwiched Spacebirdmatingcall > Astronaut > Basis For A Day > Spacebirdmatingcall. Suddenly, I feel the feeling I forgot: The power of music to open up your soul and tickle it. It is a feeling that only a band or two has ever given to me and a feeling that is indescribable. "Bisco" say the fans.
As they finished up Aron Magner's Spy, I got the sense that the night had a little bit more to offer. Jon Gutwillig suddenly started channeling the ghosts of Los Angeles' storied rock 'n roll history with a high pitched guitar solo that seemed familiar. It took a bit for me to figure out what it was, and my night-long grin got even bigger. It was the ending of the Guns n' Roses tune, November Rain, played to near perfection as Gutwillig's guitar soared over the rumbling vocals of Marc Brownstein & Aron Magner.
After finishing up the set, the band left the stage to thunderous applause as the crowd clamored for more. A thankfully brief pause backstage and then the band was back out and throwing down their inspired version of Pink Floyd's Run Like Hell. Not content to play a three minute encore and send the fans packing, the Disco Biscuits continued to romp us with the encore song, stretching it out for what seemed like over ten minutes and providing one last taste of Bisco. It was the perfect cap to a perfect evening of music. If the last few trips are any indication, the Disco Biscuits need to be playing in Los Angeles a lot more.
1: Chemical Warfare Brigade , Munchkin Invasion 1 > Rock Candy , Save The Robots , Pilin' It High 2
2: Once The Fiddler Paid , Spacebirdmatingcall > Astronaut 3 > Basis For A Day 4 > Spacebirdmatingcall , Spy > November Rain 5
E: Run Like Hell
1 Unfinished 2 Original version 3 Inverted version; Last time Inverted 10/23/02
4 Completes 12/6/06 version 5 Ending only