Words: Michael Fioretti | Photography: Steven Philips StSteven.com
The Philadelphia-based godfathers of electronica-jam fusion closed out an absolutely stellar year for the quartet with five jaw and flat-brim sopping shows at Chicago’s Concord Music Hall (12/26-27) and New York City’s Best Buy Theater (12/29-12/31). This is the experience of one guy at the last three shows. As far as venues go, Best Buy (formerly Nokia) once again showed why it should be considered one of the premier venues in Manhattan sound. I didn’t plan on a blow-by-blow analysis of what occurred, but that’s what seems right and legit.
From the first seconds of “Bernstein and Chasnoff” on night one, it was clear that the band had arrived well rehearsed from Chicago. The tune popped to its extended trancy-house groove without a hitch, eased into semi-bust out “Voices Insane.” It was followed by the dirty high energy triplet of a “Pilin’ It High (Perfume)(that’s right no “er”) > M.E.M.P.H.I.S.> Tempest” that coerced even the most stubborn sweat glands to commence perspiration. Exit with the seamless cork to “B & C” and it was on from there. “On”, in this context, on this particular night, meant a second set featuring a seemingly endless and perfectly motley version of “House Dog Party Favor” serving as the bun in the sammich for a true blue, high-octane, and undoubtedly O.G., “I-Man”. The encore featured a Joe drinking and Strike smoking Magner bringing all of his creepy, yet tasty, lyrical stylings to “Spy”, which tailed into a “November Rain” (G n’ R) send off that sent the masses searching for their hypothetical umbrellas on their way to Tractorbeam.
Cobwebs shaken, the second night at the Best Buy was no exception to the rule that the Biscuits, when pocketed, are an absolute force. The “Neck Romancer” opener continued along the Chicago train of thought with a “dust-off” beginning that had previously supplied “Barfly” and “The Tunnel” to the fray. After one chose to either bring flowers to a lost love or adorn a hickey, it was full throttle Biscuits for the rest of the evening. While the “Strobelights >>>> Munchkin [end]” was dripping with the quintessential Bisco light/dark; minor/major ratio, and the stand alone “Magellan” brought one back to Barber freak-out Camp 12 days, it was the “Mindless Dribble > spacebirdmatingcall ” that stands out as the premier section of the entire run. The builds and the knockdowns of Dribble repeatedly provided wonked continuations bending and pulling both eardrums and kneecaps alike. This occurred until the extraterrestrial winged creature brought bags of money to its “call” in order to build its nest and populate its roost. After the last notes of an uncivilized “Morph” encore were played, the smiles reigned for miles with one more night to go.
Enter the Fever. As a young lad growing up in the Philadelphia suburbs, there was one album that was a constant in my childhood home. That album, the Saturday Night Fever soundtrack. While we all knew that “Disco Inferno” has been in the arsenal and that the “Disco” is not an ancillary word in the title of this band, the debut of the Walter Murphy version of “A Fifth of Beethoven” placed the musicality and the “homage” vibe of the band directly on display. Aside from the “7-11” opener that asked all the right questions, and the “Basis” that won the “Basis v. Robots” coin flip, once the “Fifth” was introduced to the jam/party for all to come out to, the night became downright Studio 42 worthy. The only possible criticism I could ever lay upon this night was a missed opportunity to capitalize on the vibe of the “Fifth” with a juicy “42” in lieu of the oft heard “Helicopters” with the “Happy new year” lyrical substitution. The “Abyss” probably would have been there during the slowdown of the “42” just in case that was the issue. The third set still brought my exhausted legs to wobble in tune, peaked by more “Fifth” and the “Gangster” fulfilling my dirty fantasies. That being said, we all got tucked in proper by “Once the Fiddler Paid” where Barber’s Parker flew into the skies as if it were the first song we heard all week. A totally gorgeous night of music with four talented and beautiful individuals is how it will go down in my empty head.
After all is said and done, Philadelphia should be proud that our best band is alive and well, and absolutely destroying it. The followers of these vibrations bring some of the best elements together to where, without sounding like a damn hippy, it can get to the point of one band > one family, sending the energy back and forth. If you like to dance or just like to be challenged in your cochlear implants, I promise you the Biscuits could be the answer to your qualms. Until February 19-21, where we can all be electric again, signing off, I love you all. God bless. For tickets to the Electric Factory run, click HERE.