Written by Maggie Gallagher
Photos by August Joseph Heisler IV of August J. Photography
The Disco Biscuits are infamous in the jam community. Whether people think of the juicy jams filled with peak after peak of euphoric jamtronica, or of some not so glory years, you probably know who The Disco Biscuits are. Some might say tDB could be referenced in a similar way that Jerry Garcia made a simile out of The Grateful Dead, “We’re like licorice. Not everybody likes licorice, but the people who like licorice really like licorice.” Well, I believe just about anyone could’ve seen the 1st night of their New Year’s Eve run at The Fillmore in Philadelphia (12/28/18-12/31/18), and understood what this band is all about.
Starting the night off with a heater of a “Basis for a Day” > “Crystal Ball” > “Basis for a Day,” you could tell this 4 night run was going to be special. The pace was set, and these 4 incredible musicians weren’t slowing down. “Stone” segued into their take on the classical number, “Devil’s Waltz,” and finalized the first set with a bang. The excitement in the room was palpable. Like many bands in the scene, the Disco Biscuits have a very dedicated following. With no true tour in years, it makes these longer runs an invaluable experience for the people who love them. The energy in The Fillmore was buzzing; the classic Fillmore chandeliers hanging above, ladies dressed to the nines in their sparkles and velvet, and many talking about the year of 9 approaching (1999 and 2009 are two epic years in tDB history). The second set was about to confirm the belief that we are likely stepping into a big year for this band.
Starting off the 2nd set with “Hope,” into “Highwire” (inverted), back into “Hope,” and once again everyone was impressed with the direction of the jams and the movement behind these “jam sandwiches”. “7-11” followed with another explosive jam, into another classical selection, and a rare one – “Dance of the Sugarplum Fairy” (Tchaikovsky). Seeing an electronic psychedelic jam rock band play two classically composed songs, and with such gusto and grace, is a phenomenal pleasure. As though the first show hadn’t been saucy enough, they started playing a bust out that no one was expecting. “Haleakala Crater” filled the room, and emotions swelled. “Crater” hadn’t been played in 14 years, almost to the day. (We would later find that this theme would follow through the run when the “Hot Air Balloon” rock opera was playing in its entirety for the first time in years). There were undeniable grins, there were tears of joy, there was lots of happy shouting.
After a beautiful end to the second set, they took the stage again, and Barber asked if “we’d like to see that one back in the rotation.” After an obvious yes from the crowd, he then said it was “that easy!” We shall see if in this New Year we start seeing Haleakala Crater appearing in more set lists (I don’t think there would be any complaints about that). And finally, The Disco Biscuits closed the show with a “Floes” encore, a favorite. “Floes” is a song with beautiful lyrics and dirty jams, which left the night off with plenty of boogying and sore legs rolling into night 2.
The 4 night run was overall my favorite Disco Biscuits experience. If you’ve never seen this band, or even if it’s been a while, you should get yourself out to one of their shows this year. If you do, you’ll be in for a treat. May your New Year be blessed with love, friendship, community, and lots of music – hopefully including the Disco Biscuits.