At the turn of the century, most jam bands fled farther underground in order to combat electronic rave music for the industry’s coveted title of we-don’t-sell-records-but-make-tons-of-cash award.
And now that the ecstasy-fueled, pseudo-hippie movement has all but washed away, the jam bands are back trying to re-grow a fanbase with a musical style as weathered as their patchwork pants.
And then, there’s the Disco Biscuits.
The Biscuits — or Bisco as the band is oft referred to by it’s fans because, frankly, the full version is possibly the stupidest alias in music history — may be a jam band down at it’s roots, but up top it’s all innovational foliage.
After forming in Philly in the mid -90s, Bisco released a pair of subtley eccentric jam albums that were mainly hinged on big guitar rock and sleek funk.
The band’s sophomore release, Uncivilized Area, was the better of the two; an album so well-rounded it rivals only those of jam grand masters Phish. But being a really good jam band wasn’t enough for Bisco.
The Biscuit boys had always been fans of much more progressive music, so they decided to make like their influences and infuse something different into their tunes.
With the band’s subsequent releases, They Missed the Perfume and Senor Boombox, Bisco took some of it’s old jam and stirred it into a pot full of trance, electronica and melody.
And while the group’s latest releases haven’t garnered the same praise from jammers as Area, Perfume and Boombox, The Biscuits have managed to attract throngs of new fans and to keep themselves excited about making new music.
Like Phish, Bisco fans habitually follow them around the country, meeting up at Bisco music and camping festivals.
Once a jam band, always a jam band. And in that same jam vein, Bisco relies on it’s live performances to spread the word and make the money.
These boys write songs for live shows, and only record that new material when they get around to it.
Record execs must love that.
Each Bisco song is a journey all in its own. The songs are played in a pattern that builds audience excitement in anticipation for that climactic audience-band musical peak sometimes called the nod by DJs. Bisco shows have intermissions, acts and lots and lots of what seem to be spooky hippie dances. Good times.
Many of the fan-favorite Bisco tunes are also band favorites that will pop up again and again on different Disco Biscuit albums. “Jigsaw Earth,” “Little Betty Boop” and “M.E.M.P.H.I.S.” (that’s “Making Easy Money, Pimpin’ Ho’s In Style,” in case you didn’t know) are great album cuts that are transformed into instrumental epics onstage during the Bisco musical journey.
If it all sounds kind of cheesy, maybe it is. But it’s good music, good people and finally something good to come out of rave culture.
The Disco Biscuits play tonight at Twilight in Ybor. Tickets are $15 at the door.