This past April, The Disco Biscuits and several thousand of their closest fans ignited Denver, Colorado with the flame of the somewhat-annual, 4-day musical magic that is Bisco Inferno. The Disco Biscuits played three shows at the Ogden Theater (April 15th, 16th, and 18th) and at Red Rocks Amphitheater on April 17th along with Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead.
4/15 Night One – Ogden Theater . Denver CO
As flocks of fitteds flooded the Ogden Theater, Wednesday evening felt like a 10-year high school reunion – reconnecting with old friends, meeting their friends, instantly becoming new friends, bursting with laughter and causing scenes as unexpected faces appear from the masses. The theater was practically rumbling with excitement and greetings filled with hugs, kisses, and a plague of infectious smiles.
The lights got low, the crowd hushed and with eyes sparkling, gazed to the stage with the most intense anticipation.
The Disco Biscuits opened the run with a funkified version of 7-11. A recurring phrase from the lyrics, “So bring your ass to the party!”, epitomized most of our journeys to Colorado, traveling from every corner of the country and beyond, to get our asses to the party. Transitioning into Rainbow Song, you could hear the Ogden erupt with cheers on the soundboard as the song is not only a fan favorite, but has only seen the laserlight five times in the last six years. In a move which would come as a head scratcher to many Bisco vets, the following sequence was composed of four standalone songs: Neck Romancer, Home Again, The Overture, and closed the first set with 42. They were high energy and sounded tight and on point, but nonetheless confusing to break the usual flow of transition.
Set II opened with a personal favorite, Kamaole Sands. The pace quickly picked up into a high energy jam into Above the Waves. Sandwiched in between Above The Waves was a first time cover of After Midnight that slowed the tempo way down and let it all hang out. Out of Above the Waves came an ominous and evil Shadow. Coming out of the darkness, an inverted, blissful Confrontation sent the once rowdy crowd into interlocked arms, singing the song word for word. The ending chorus and opening verses were followed by a funky, Magner-led jam that ended with a Kamaole Sands ending to conclude the set. Encoring with Rockafella, the evening ended as it started: cheers, hugs, kisses, and the insatiable longing for more Biscuits.
4/16 Night Two – Ogden Theater . Denver CO
The second evening of a run is always my favorite – and rightfully so. The second night of a Biscuits run is usually the most solid musically and the band really comes together as a perfectly unified sound.
They come out swinging strong with a standalone Once the Fiddler Paid and they nail the poetic progression of the song’s story. They hold true to this tone for the rest of the show – never faltering, never failing. The Biscuits explored new territory in the jam and really showed their growth and coming-of-age as a band. That first tune set the standard high for the remainder of the run.
They break the sweet silence with a dance-y crowd pleaser: Story of the World. The wheels are turning as they ride smoothly into a gradually escalating, heavenly Tricycle ride. Magner brings the space funk and leads the glam jam journey into a Lunar Pursuit and the crowd is gravy – pouring, gushing over the steaming Biscuits.
Allen’s powerhouse drums persistently drive the pursuit to the end of Svenghali, to the second star on the right and straight on to setbreak. The Biscuits had launched a full on musical cannonball and truly ignited the Inferno fire inside us all. THIS is the Biscuits we LOVE. These are the Biscuits we get up to, we get down to, we get sappy, nasty, stoned and grabby to. This is our shit.
Set two jumped off strong in the dance department with a delicious Mr. Don with teases from the Talking Heads’ Life During Wartime, and gently eased into the rolling melody of Magellan. The storm of straight jam sex brewed and Cyclone directly followed as the tightest song of the set. Allen was steady and strong, Magner was light, funky and intentional, Brownstein was on point and off the hook, and Barber was a driving force of mind-blowing surprises. Munchkin Invasion and Story of the World, followed by the On Time encore were the just as delicious dessert after a heaping serving of Biscuits.
4/17 Night Three – Red Rocks Amphitheater . Morrison, CO
The marathon weekend continues: Day Three. Three sets. Red Rocks.
After doing some morning sight seeing through the stunning landscapes of Colorado, it was time to squad up once again and trek to Red Rocks Park for another night with The Disco Biscuits. With a M.E.M.P.H.I.S. opener, the amphitheater exploded with southern swinging energy. A patient and melodic jam out of M.E.M.P.H.I.S. set up a perfect segue into Basis For A Day. Pulling out the big guns straight out of the gate, the Biscuits busted out a long overdue Caves Of The East, only played once since 2011, and segued into a blissful Spraypaint.
After the first set ended, I took time during set break to speak with some of the older folks in the crowd who had been drawn by the historic presence of Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart on the bill. It was very refreshing to hear their take on their first Disco Biscuits experience and made me appreciate that, had this collaboration never taken place, a good amount of people at Red Rocks would have never had the chance to see or “get” the Biscuits.
The Disco Biscuits were joined by drummers Bill Kreutzmann and Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead, as well as Tom Hamilton (Brother’s Past, American Babies) for the entirety of the second set.
“We can share the women, we can share the wine.”Jack Straw was the second set opener and proved instant testament to the dedication invested in this performance with legends beside them. The sound was fresh, yet classic, and refined, yet unchanged. Crazy Fingers and New Speedway Boogie followed without a flaw.
What happened next, however, is something only those who attended can truly understand. The band began the dreamy echo of Terrapin Station and jammed into Space. While traveling through space, in what seemed to be an eery conjuring of the looming storm, snow began to pour down from the sky. Coming to a peak in the jam, the lasers kicked on mid-set and the sky began to rain diamonds. We were in a Circus in a Bubble – a Grateful Biscuits snow globe, our world shaken and swirling around us. After the show, I was told by a passing patron, “I’ve been coming here for ten years and that was the most special moment I have witnessed here.” After summoning the snow, they closed out the set with Wharf Rat, Help On The Way, Slipknot!, which had been teased earlier this year, and Franklin’s Tower.
The second set was and incredibly special scene to witness. Although the Disco Biscuits have played alongside Bill and Mickey once in the past (Gathering of the Vibes – Bridgeport, CT – 2014), the musical visions were more in line with the potential of this powerful combination of musicians. The spirit of Jerry was truly felt in this 50th Anniversary year of The Grateful Dead, and was being channeled through our favorite band in a new and magical way. The whole crowd felt it that day, when their steadily-burning Inferno flames truly ignited and began to incinerate the amphitheater.
The third and final set came with mixed emotions. Many fans yearned for a pure Biscuits heater to end the evening and start the afterparty but we were given an even blend – half Biscuits, half Dead. They started with A Fifth of Beethoven, a cover that has been frequented in the rotation as of late, debuting on New Year’s Eve last year, segued into an evil Orch Theme, and completed the Magellan started the evening before. Tom Hamilton once again took to the stage to join the Biscuits in a cover of I Know You Rider, Casey Jones, and Goin’ Down the Road Feelin’ Bad to end the evening.
4/18 Night Four – Ogden Theater . Denver CO
The final night of a run is always bittersweet (with lingering desires for a next night show announcement). It’s like the last day of summer camp – the end is so close you can taste it, but all of your friends are there with every intention to carpe the crap out of the diem. We hug, hold back tears, hold hands and brace ourselves for whatever could possibly be next.
The set began with the excellent company of Tom Hamilton and One More Saturday Night. The Dead kicked off the night right and the Biscuits brought in the big guns with Plan B. The slinky and sly Morph Dusseldorph sent shivers down my spine as the layers converged and transcended the expected. The Morph was sexy, sleek, haunting, charging and crunchy. Then came the Wah Wah and everyone melted into liquid dance. Jigsaw Earth and Munchkin Invasion powered through the wrapped up the first set.
The last hurrah; the final set. There was an almost apocalyptic sense in the air, as if everyone could feel “The End is Near,” but weren’t ready to talk about it. But as the boys took the stage, without fail, the shit-eating grins returned to the faces of the fans and the set kicked off with a standalone Caterpillar. Highwire, inverted Humuhumunukunukuapua’a, Tempest, and back into Highwire followed and exceeded expectations. The songs all included new jam explorations and had something different about them. The Biscuits showed something different about them.
Those first few heavy chords of guitar and drums leading into Nughuffer set the crowd off into a wild race to elevate. The Ogden Theater filled entirely with smoke in the first 2.5 minutes before Brownie (bassist Marc Brownstein) began his Nughuffer banter speech. He talked about loving his experience here and left the crowd with a few powerful statements: “There is no Plan B,” “Denver’s got it right,” and “Take out your joint and spark it up.” We Tango’d and Bossanova’d for twenty Nug-huffin minutes. Tom Hamilton joined the stage once more for the almost obvious encore – Shakedown Street.
Bisco Inferno 2015 was undoubtedly a massive success. Sensible Reason would like to extend huge props and mad daps to all those involved in making this incredible event run flawlessly and putting together such a quality and memorable experience. We would also like to recognize the magic lighting creations and laser stylings of Johnny R. Goode. Thank you for creating a visual masterpiece of what the Biscuits create musically and inspire spiritually.
Enjoy some photos below of Bisco Inferno 2015 by Hunter Fries and Teresa Taylor.
Tee Tay (Teresa Taylor of Proper Perceptions) has been a dedicated Sensible Reason contributor since 2011. As a Master of Architecture, lover of music dance and creative expression, and The Ambassador of Fun - her interests and passions embody all things aesthetically lovely and creative. As founder, Boss Lady and creative mind behind Proper Perceptions, she ventures and experiments with many visually stimulating mediums, including photography, spray paints and layering templates, and psychedelic graphic art and photo-editing. Her photography experience ranges from architectural captures from world-wide adventures, to thorough and professional site documentation, to capturing musicians passionate live show facial expressions and covering the full festival experience with her trusty Nikon D90. Most of her time outside of work is spent deep in and around the music and festival scene, as well as taking significant time with nature and outdoor adventures. She is thrilled to be able to continue her work with Sensible Reason - the ultimate dream team.