The Disco Biscuits kicked off their four-night New Year’s run at the PlayStation Theater in New York, NY in true Bisco fashion. They gave fans a little taste of everything, delivering setlists with both old and new songs.
Times Square always has anxiety-producing energy around New Year’s Eve, and last night the venue didn’t do anything to help that. Their ticket scanners weren’t working for four-day passes, which led to a mob of angry Biscuits fans, many of whom have been seeing them at the venue for over ten years. It was a disappointing start to what’s been billed as the final run at one of the most storied venues in the 2.0 era of the Biscuits. Everybody is crossing their fingers that the venue gets the situation fixed before New Year’s Eve. It was business as usual and the band delivered once everybody got inside, however, but it definitely had a negative effect on the experience for many people.
“Strobelights & Martinis” is always a strong opener. It captures the essence of the past decade of Biscuits and usually leads to solid improvisation. They rode it into “Electric Slinky”, one of the new songs recently debuted on this tour, and let the room breathe. Bassist Marc Brownstein brought in the melody and the band naturally followed behind him. The tune has quickly emerged as a new fan-favorite, featuring bluesy rock n’ roll guitar work from Jon “Barber” Gutwillig.
What came next was arguably the tightest segment of the night. “Feeling Twisted” is synonymous with the overall vibe and energy of the PlayStation Theater. It produced a dark electronic four-on-the-floor jam that had the entire dance floor rocking. Keyboardist Aron Magner took the spotlight and laid down multiple layers. His phrasing on the Virus was exceptionally good. When he’s selecting the right patches, it brings the band’s improvisation to new heights. Drummer Allen Aucoin was using a tasteful balance of acoustic and electronic drums as Brownstein brought the bassline in for an inverted “Abraxas”.
The band juiced the transition with patient tenacity, building the tension before releasing it with the first notes of the composition. Like “Feeling Twisted”, “Abraxas” has always been a perfect fit for the dungeon of Times Square. Barber used his white Stratocaster extremely well during the first set. Since adding it into his rotation he has slowly dialed in the tone, and it really showed last night.
The drop into “Spaga” was smooth, and they exploded into the verses with the signature grunge that the song brings. Instead of going completely evil with the improvisation, they slid into a drum and bass jam that danced on the line of dark and light, keeping the crowd engaged and on their toes. It’s always a treat to see Aron Magner solo on the piano. He’s one of the most talented and diverse players in the scene, and few songs show that more than “Spaga”.
Opening the second set with “The Tunnel” was a great choice. It’s one of the most heartfelt songs in the Biscuits’ catalog. Everybody has lost people throughout their lives and this song pays homage to all of those guardian angels. Barber broke out the Gibson and let loose. The band followed his lead and delivered a massive standalone rendition.
Next came “Astronaut”. Barber and Magner were tossing lead melodies back and forth while Brownstein and Allen kept the backbone strong. Together, they made their way into a beautiful section of “blissco”. Lighting Designer Johnny R. Goode needs to be applauded for his beautiful work last night. His approach was more minimalistic than in past years, as he refrained from using any lasers whatsoever.
The band seemed to be feeling good as they jammed into the debut of a new song titled “Running into The Night”. The fan base has been extremely grateful that the band has debuted a number of new songs over the course of this tour, and it’s been interesting to watch as they transform and evolve on stage. The song has major potential and ended up being one of the highlights of the night. The low dynamic jam out of it was captivating.
Then came another one of these Tractorbeam segments that the band has been doing during the second set of every show. Using Ableton, they’ve been covering electronic tracks selected from a variety of DJ’s and producers. Last night’s segment came from the European DJ, Solomun. They brought it down into complete space before launching into an all-out assault of techno madness, transporting the crowd into the basement of a Berlin nightclub in the late ’90s.
After sitting in that and leveling the crowd, they made their way into the ending of “Astronaut”, which Barber ripped to shreds. It produced a filthy jam that allowed Magner’s incredible synth work to shine. All in all, the second set was a good look into the past, present, and future of the Disco Biscuits.
They capped off the night by encoring with “Digital Buddha” > “Tempest” > “Digital Buddha”, a strong segment that many would’ve liked to see in one of the sets. The first night of every New Year’s is always a bit chaotic. The amount of energy bouncing around can be overwhelming at times. Then the band and crowd settle in and lock into their symbiotic relationship at a remarkably deep level.
In terms of how the PlayStation Theater is operating, hopefully, the next three nights are much smoother. The Disco Biscuits have something very special planned for New Year’s Eve, but they still have two nights to blow everyone’s minds before that occurs. So strap in and enjoy the ride because it’s only going to get better.
Check out a pro-shot video of the entire show below.
The Disco Biscuits – PlayStation Theater – 12/27/19 – [Full-Show Pro-Shot]
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
The Disco Biscuits still have three more shows at The PlayStation theater planned for their New Year’s run. They will play again tonight (12/28), and twice more on December 30th and 31st. Click here for ticket information.
Below, check out a gallery of photos from the first of four Disco Biscuits New Year’s shows courtesy of Andrew Blackstein.
Setlist: The Disco Biscuits | PlayStation Theater | New York, NY | 12/27/19
Set 1: Strobelights and Martinis > Electric Slinky, Feeling Twisted > Abraxas > Spaga
Set 2: The Tunnel, Astronaut > Running into the Night > Tractorbeam Jam > Astronaut
 Inverted version |  Original debut