Given the build-up for the Disco Biscuits return to Denver, the opening night of the band's three night stand was lacking a certain je ne sais quoi. Perhaps it was the hype the anticipation for Bisco and the pop-up store, but it just wasn't there last night. The Ogden wasn't slammed, and it was relatively easy to get around, and sometimes that's a good thing, but I was expected a frenzy of bodies and energy.
The four-hour set began shortly after nine with a three-song segueway starting with "Very Moon." Someone once pointed out that "we hippies love our music, but we just have to suffer through the lyrics." At the time, I thought it was one of the funniest things I had ever heard. Whether or not it's true, I do have to admit that some lyrics just don't make any sense unless you've got the secret understanding, and some just synchronize really well with a whole song. It's the suffering through the lyrics, though, that makes it all worth it for high points of flawless stage chemistry.
Marc "Brownie" Brownstein, the scratchy-voice bassist, and Jon Gutwillig really got into it on "Shem Rah Boo, one such song that makes little to no sense, but yet the song somehow manages to be pretty epic on its own. Live, it climbs up and up, providing perfect improvisational opportunities, as Brownie and Gutwillig capitalized on last night. Both artists fed off each other, which was visible in both musicians' faces as they switched paces out of "Boo" and back into "Visions Insane."
This was especially apparent with Brownie. Watching him is like watching the reactions to movie-goers as the plot unfolds -- expressions of confusion, contentment, satisfaction, excitement -- and Brownie feeds off the crowd. There were a couple rough transitions, heard and expressed, but the wrap up for the first set closed nicely with "Neck Romancer" into "Overture."
Unlike the last time Biscuits came through Denver, this opening night was void of any nickelodeon lasers that have trademarked the group's set. The smart lights that were used certainly don't disappoint, but those lasers are just so damn cool. They paint all over the walls and provide a ceiling of greens, blues and yellows filled with dazzling swirls of whatever is being exhaled in the room.
The second set opened with "Park Avenue," which immediately pumped a breath of life into the venue. The bare floor visible during the set break filled up again, but the back of the venue never really packed out. This led into the repetitive "Vassilios," and then into "Orch Theme." The second set jam started way later than the setlist read -- actually about thirty minutes later -- but this just meant it would run later than the 1 a.m. call time, but not by too much. All in all, the Ogden certainly didn't feel sold-out and tickets are still available for tonight and tomorrows show, which, with the help of Big Boi and Rusko, will make for a fucking awesome party.
CRITIC'S NOTEBOOK Personal Bias:This was only my fourth time seeing the Biscuits, and it wasn't the best yet. Inferno from 2010 still holds that distinction, and I await this weeks climactic ending. Random Detail:No lasers.
Disco Biscuits Ogden Theatre - Denver, Colorado 5/26/11
SET I Very Moon Voices Insane Shem Rah Boo Voices Insane Neck Romancer Overture
SET II Park Avenue Vassilios Orch Theme Mr. Don Tricycle Mr. Don
ENCORE Shelby Ross
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.