Summer Flashback: Bisco Inferno 2016
It is one of the most anticipated musical runs in Colorado. It has kicked off the summer concert series in the state with the hottest music scene for the last several years. It is Bisco Inferno, and once again the Disco Biscuits brought their loyal fans, friends, and family to the Ogden Theater and Red Rocks Amphitheatre, the most beautiful venue in America, to celebrate music and summer. I may be a little biased because I fell in love this year on this run, but I would go so far as to say that this was the best Inferno ever, and the Biscuits are playing at a high level of efficiency, connectedness, and boogie down. As the leaders and innovators of the electronic jam band world, they have paved the way for a genre. In addition, they are one of the most sought after live jam bands touring, and in this review, although I attended all fours nights, I will be focusing on the last night of the Ogden and the Red Rocks show, which were the best nights of the run.
Disco Biscuit shows are a family atmosphere; not family like bring your children, but I cannot emphasis enough how attuned their fans are to the band and one another. This factor certainly does not exist with all bands. These band members are relatable, friendly, and love their fans. After celebrating drummer Allen Aucoin and long time fan Chris Scrimali’s birthdays the night before, most were off to slow start, but thankfully the afternoon started with the Visual Therapy art show featuring paintings and artwork of the heralded lighting engineer Johnny R. Goode. Fans got to wander around the gallery and visually absorb art inspired by the music of the Disco Biscuits.
The Disco Biscuits hit the stage with a “West L.A. Fadeaway” tease by the Grateful Dead before whimsically leaping into “House Dog Party Favor.” This high-energy opener featured a spirited solo by guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig, which even included a kick, some hopping, and a vibrant conclusion before going into their first song sandwich of the night. The thirty-minute adventure was a little more than a warm-up/opener. By the time the band had dropped the opening notes of “Caterpillar”, the crowd was ecstatic. Aucoin’s drum introduction along with Goode’s golden laser beam collage were the perfect beginning for this song originally named “Macina Verde.” Just then, the very familiar riff of Barber’s “Story of the World” came in, but it was an inverted version. For those unfamiliar to inversions in songs, imagine a song having three distinct parts: A regular beginning, a middle where the band improvises/jams, and an ending. A song, in this case “Story of the World,” that is inverted will jam out of a different song, “Caterpillar,” and into the ending of “Story of the World,” then the beginning, and then they improvise/jam until, again in this case, they go back into “Caterpillar.” This jam was liquefied by an incredible drippy bass solo by Marc Brownstein. When he launched into it, the beat dropped and the lasers were prevalent. This is the Disco Biscuits at their best, and when the dance party is at its peak. The “Caterpillar” sandwich ended the first set with the sweaty crowd longing for more.
After a short break, Barber teased “Too Hot” by Kool & the Gang before he counted off, the Biscuits came out with a tribute song that generally gets the crowd excited in less than a second with the lyrics, “I’m the King of the World.” It was the day that “the greatest” boxer of all time passed away at the age of 74. Muhammad Ali was not just a fighter though, and he was an ambassador for those who were fighting for their rights of any kind. He publicly stood up for what he believed in; this is something that many are afraid to do. Therefore, it was fitting that the Biscuits would open this set with their song “King of the World,” which quotes the champ, “Float like a butterfly.”
Subsequent to opening notes of “Mindless Dribble,” there were no breaks until the end of the second set. “Shem-Ra-Boo” went into “Down to the Bottom,” which went unfinished and included “Spy” and “Berstein and Chasnoff” teases. Furthermore, all of that went into “Sound One,” which is really what threw the crowd for a loop. “Sound One” is a song written by original Biscuits drummer Sam Altman.
The encore was hinted at with some pig noises by Barber’s guitar as the band came on stage. Even though “Run Like Hell” is on The Wall, I think that he was surely hinting at the “Run Like Hell > Tricycle > Run Like Hell” that was upon us. This three-night run at the Ogden Theater came to a close, but the grand finale at Red Rocks was upon everyone.
The last day of a Bisco Inferno celebration is always one of life’s most beautiful musical experiences. Fans of the Disco Biscuits know one another, and people come from all over for this run. I took the J2G Entertainment’s Bus 2 Show with 40 of my best friends. The vibe was heightened and the anticipation for the last day at one of our nation’s most beautiful venues was palpable. After a strong opening set from rising jam band Twiddle, the Disco Biscuits created a dance party that was as usual constant and intricate.
The first set started with an oldie, but an afternoon goodie. They opened with “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line and teased “Cissy Strut” by the Meters to start it all off. They teased the ending of “The Great Abyss” as well while going into an inverted version of “Humuhumunukunukuapua’a.” and “Crystal Ball.” After, they went right into the ending only of “Bernstein and Chasnoff” which they teased the night before at the Ogden Theater. The first set then ended with a dance off “Basis for a Day.”
The second set opened with a powerful Muse song called “Knights of Cydonia,” which they have only played three times. From this point on, they did not stop once and this show could not have possibly been any better. Barber’s “Sweating Bullets” originally performed by the bands secret alter ego Fuck the Robots in a 2003 NYE Battle of the Bands set the tone and smoothly went into the middle section of an inverted “Above the Waves” into an unfinished “Spacebirdmatingcall > Rock Candy” back into the ending then the beginning of “Above the Waves.” This is what separates this band’s talents from most of the rest. The end of this set went back into the first set opener, “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line.” This was sheer musical brilliance.
The encore was “Home Again,” and I know that is how the members of this band feel when they come to the state of Colorado. This run was my favorite run of summer 2016. There has been a positive momentum that has been following the Biscuits recently, and they are going to continue to build steam through their Las Vegas Brooklyn Bowl Halloween tour from the 27th to the 29th after Phish and their New Year’s Eve shows in Atlanta.