The Disco Biscuits made their triumphant return to The Palace Theatre in Albany for two packed shows over Thanksgiving weekend. The historic venue has seen a few memorable shows from the band over the years, and their Saturday, November 24th performance will definitely be held in the same regard.
The band came in primed and ready to give fans a creative setlist that was risky and well-executed. After Saturday’s show, momentum is on their side as the band and crew gear up to end the year on a strong note. Opening with “The Tunnel”, one of bassist Marc Brownstein’s most emotional songs, The Disco Biscuits eased their way into the evening with patience and poise. It was a good song choice for the vibe of the marvelous theater, setting them up for what would end up being a fantastic set. The jam was airy and tasteful with simple yet elegant melodies from guitarist Jon “the Barber” Gutwillig and keyboardist Aron Magner. It didn’t take long for emotions to rise as the band made their way into the chorus of “Spectacle”.
The band dropped into “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” with fierce confidence. The song is known to produce some of the band’s best mid-tempo jams, and Saturday’s version showcased just that. Brownstein’s thick basslines led the way as Allen Aucoin made great use of his drums as Barber shredded the peak of the first jam before dropping back into the song’s composed structure. The second half of the song is the definition of rock n’ roll. Magner took the reins during the second jam as the band locked into a steady gallop. Lighting designer Andrew Cass did a tremendous job filling in for Johnny R. Goode and, especially during the jam out of M.E.M.P.H.I.S. Brownstein put his bass down and hopped on his Moog Little Phatty to add exciting texture to the improvisational foray, showcasing some of his best synth bass work in recent years. Magner laid down some colorful layers on top of the bassline, making it one of the standout jams of the night—and the year as a whole.
The transition into “We Like to Party” was smooth and powerful. The song has been the catalyst for some of the best improvisation of the year. Magner’s synthesizer work was beyond sublime, as he had the crowd in the palm of his hand. He danced around Barber’s riff with precision, hitting a level of creativity that is almost impossible to match in a composed piece. The band sounded unstoppable. Nobody was stepping on each other’s toes. Instead, they were operating as a singular unit, turning the pristine theater into what felt like a Dutch nightclub in the mid 90’s. Allen sped things up as the band jammed into the ending of “Rock Candy” with calcualted force. They hadn’t played the song’s ending in a few years, and the crowd jumped for joy at the rare occurrence.
What came next kept everybody on their feet: A massive standalone version of “Save The Robots” containing some of Barber’s best guitar work of the night. Brownstein and Magner followed him and solidified a foundation for him to build upon. After dropping back into the song’s composed structure, the band broke into extraterrestrial space, the crowd erupted with loud cheers and applause. They finally exploded back into the song and kept their foot on the gas for the next jam, ending the song and set in memorable fashion.
The band returned to the stage for set two and kicked things off by returning to “Spectacle” by way of a blissful intro jam, marking the first time the band had split the song up between two sets. This version exemplified why this song is at its best when it’s jammed out. Every member was feeling it, and rightfully so—they were cooking.
The band then executed a flawless transition into “Spacebirdmatingcall”, another clear highlight of the show. The song’s jam featured some skillful interplay from Barber, Magner, and Brownstein. Allen kept it simple, giving the front three a blank canvas on which to illustrate. The simple rhythm worked in their favor, as the band drove the peak home with passion and purpose, Barber jumping up and down as he played. They followed with a short but sweet standalone version of “Hope”.
To cap the night off, The Disco Biscuits turned in a “Reactor” sandwich with an inverted “Crickets” serving as the meat. This improvisational stretch got spooky and mystical, featuring some great cymbal work from Allen and chromatic scale tones to keep the crowd on their toes. After easing into “Crickets” with a slapping Barber/Magner groove, the band dropped into the song’s composed theme, followed by a uniquely funky jam. By the time they made their way back to “Reactor”, the crowd was elated and illuminated by Cass’s eye-popping light work.
With the venue’s 12:30 a.m. curfew quickly approaching, the band took a very brief encore break before returning to cap the show with an extremely fast rendition of “Portal to An Empty Head”.
You can watch full pro-shot footage of The Disco Biscuits’ 11/24/18 performance at The Palace Theatre below:
The Disco Biscuits – 11/24/18 – Full Show
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
Next up for The Disco Biscuits is their three-night mountain town run in Frisco, CO on December 7th, 8th, and 9th, followed by their trip to Mexico for Holidaze and their four-night New Year’s run in Philly. The band will then kick off 2019 with a newly-announced three-night stint at The Capitol Theatre in Port Chester, NY on January 31st, February 2nd, and February 3rd. For a full list of upcoming dates, head to the band’s website here.
Setlist: The Disco Biscuits | Palace Theatre | Albany, NY | 11/24/18
I: The Tunnel -> Spectacle, M.E.M.P.H.I.S.-> We Like to Party-> Rock Candy, Save the Robots
II: Spectacle-> Spacebirdmatingcall, Hope, Reactor-> Crickets (inverted)-> Reactor
E: Portal to an Empty Head