The Disco Biscuits were clicking on all levels for the third night of their New Year’s run at Playstation Theater in Times Square on Monday. The band and fanbase are operating on a symbiotic level, and last night the vibe was just right. The comfort that they have on that stage is unprecedented; it’s as if they’re playing in an intimate studio space. Their onstage chemistry is beginning to show signs of what it once was during the touring years of 2007 and 2009. It’ll never be the same sound and style, because they’re no longer the same people, but the energy still has the ability to bring the fans where they need to go.
Opening up the first set with “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.”, the band offered a laid back approach to the composition and jam. Jon “Barber” Gutwillig started the night off with his classic Gibson hollow body, but during the transition of “I-Man” into “Cyclone”, he switched to his green Fender Stratocaster that he appropriately donned for “Moneybag: during the early years of the band. It could be argued that the tone on that guitar has been dialed in the best it ever has been since it was brought back into the mix; it sang when it needed to sing and it screamed when it needed to scream.
They skated into “Cyclone” and cradled the room softly before shaking it up, but it never strayed from smooth to abrasive. By the time they got into the dub jam of “Lunar Pursuit”, they couldn’t miss. Barber caressed the crowd with breathtaking phrasing. The notes were dripping off the fretboard at points. It should definitely be mentioned that the musical communication between him and bassist Marc Brownstein was awe-inspiring. The band reached some pockets of “blissco” that were unparalleled. The key change on “Loose Change” was called by Brownstein at a great time as the front three stepped into it together. The improvisation of the first set was delicate. That same intense contrast between the rawness and the bliss is what makes the Disco Biscuits the band that they are.
The second set started off with “Little Shimmy in a Conga Line”, and it didn’t take long for the crowd to realize they were bringing us into dark waters. The Disco Biscuits dance between the dark and the light, playing off the emotions of the mind with such a distinct presence. That’s the beauty of truly playing in the moment, without having changes mapped out; the music uses the musicians as vessels instead of the other way around.
Over the course of this entire tour, the band has done a great job pairing their old songs with new songs, and last night wasn’t any different. They jammed into “Rocket Science”, and it was as if they’ve been doing it for year. The new songs and the jams in and out of them have gotten better every time they played them. The band has broken into the next stage of their sound with these new songs; their creativity has been rejuvenated and they’re setting themselves up to enter 2020 with an idealistic balance of the past and future. They’re working to bind the soulful traditions of American music with the futuristic technology of international dance music, and they’re doing so right in front of our eyes. The “Tractorbeam” jam into inverted “Ladies” was a prime example of that. From there, they glided into “Tricycle” with total satisfaction before making their way into a monstrous “Shimmy” ending—a near-flawless second set. Again, Marc Brownstein deserves credit for his set-list construction. It isn’t hard to tell that he’s a diehard fan of Phish and the Grateful Dead; he lives and breathes this music.
The band returned to the stage and encored with “Station” and “Kitchen Mitts”, another great pairing of new and old songs. Well, as usual, the shows have gotten better and better as the run rolls on. There’s one night left, and it’s going to be huge. The Disco Biscuits and their team have something unforgettable planned to close out the decade in a timeless manner. It will be a culmination of their entire career, from start to finish, and will be looked back on as one of the most monumental shows of their career. The show is sold out, so if you’re in the building, you are supposed to be there.
Below, you can watch a full, pro-shot video of night three of The Disco Biscuits’ New Year’s run at the PlayStation Theater and view galleries of photos from the show via photographers Dave Vann and Andrew Blackstein.
The Disco Biscuits – PlayStation Theater – New York, NY – 12/30/19
[Video: The Disco Biscuits]
For a full list of upcoming Disco Biscuits tour dates, head here.
Setlist: The Disco Biscuits | PlayStation Theater | New York, NY | 12/30/19
Set One: M.E.M.P.H.I.S.-> I-Man-> Cyclone-> Lunar Pursuit-> Loose Change-> I-Man
Set Two: Little Shimmy in a Conga Line-> Rocket Science-> And the Ladies Were the Rest of the Night (inverted)-> Tricycle-> Little Shimmy in a Conga Line
Encore: Station, Kitchen Mitts