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Favorite ThisCity Bisco 2012 Review

Published: October 23, 2012
By: Ben Weiss
Photos By: Bethany Rees (

The Disco Biscuits have done a number of iconic things over the course of their wacky 17-year career. To name a few, they branded the annual Camp Bisco gathering that has grown to accommodate 25,000 guests, hosted two consecutive years of “Bisco Inferno” at Red Rocks, performed on the Riviera Maya and got to puff one down with Snoop Dogg (Lion?) at their own festival.

But, for a band that got together at the University of Pennsylvania, getting to rock at The Mann Center for the Performing Arts—one of the largest, most hallowed venues in Philadelphia—has likely been a foremost priority on The Biscuits’ bucket list for quite some time.

On October 5th and 6th, 10 years after The Biscuits performed what is argued by many to be their best set ever at Haymaker Festival in Virginia, the powers that be made it a reality.  Coming to fruition in the form of the first ever City Bisco (described in a recent preview article for as “a more urbane version of Camp Bisco, with many of the acts—Diplo, Brothers Past, RJD2 and the Biscuits—hailing from Philly”) the event was a festive homecoming party that was clearly a dream come true for many of those involved. Let’s take a closer look at how it all went down.

The supporting cast:
While The Biscuits were certainly the captains of their two-day adventure, it wouldn’t have been their style to fulfill the longtime fantasy all by themselves. In order to make the celebration all the more exciting, The Biscuits brought along an eclectic combination of friends who delighted the crowd on the two different stages while The Mann filled up in anticipation of the headlining performances.

On one end of the spectrum, the electro heads got their fill of heavy bangers with the likes of Diplo, A-Trak, and Paper Diamond. At the same time, the event’s organizers stayed true to the host’s psychedelic roots by inviting along some of the finest livetronica ensembles on the market including Ott. and the All Seeing I, The Nadis Warriors, and Papadosio.

It was a celebratory atmosphere to which all the performers seemed to bring their A-game, and the audience (albeit a likely departure from the patrons who go see the Pops in the same space) ate up every moment of what was probably the last of the outdoor events to be enjoyed in the northeast this year.

The stars of the show:
Anyone who has been to Camp Bisco the past two summers has likely noticed that the festival has outgrown the hosts themselves. In other words, as producers like Bassnectar—who had been cultivated at the festival for years—started to gain massive mainstream popularity, the biggest acts at the event became the aggressive electronic artists who had only populated the side and late night stages in past years. That’s not to say that plenty of folks at Camp these days aren’t Biscuit heads, but the proportion of people wondering why a four-piece rock band gets so many righteous sets has certainly grown significantly.

However, at City Bisco, The Biscuits returned as the main attraction. So even though cats like Diplo are increasingly being seen as megastars in the eyes of the general public, when he performed during The Biscuits’ set break on the first night, that’s when most people went to the food trucks to get themselves a Philly cheesesteak before returning to rage the end of the show.

Now, that’s not to say that The Biscuits’ performances were their best. Far from it. Especially the first night, many of the transitions were flubbed and they had trouble settling into comfortable jams. But, at the same time, I have to give them props for still taking some interesting musical risks. Although they were pretty rusty at points after not playing a show together in several months, they didn’t fall victim to “greatest hits” style shows and kept the set lists fresh and interesting (the transitions in the Above the Waves>House Dog>Above the Waves medley were very cool ideas, although the execution was a bit rocky).

The bottom line:
In a musical landscape where the heavy hitters are now artists whose live performance revolves around perfectly pre-recorded sets triggered with controllers and launch pads, the group who rose to notoriety because of their off-the-cuff transitions still managed to garner up some moments of excitement even with a lack of practice. But, what really struck me wasn’t the music but the excitement coming from the band.

As Brownstein bantered about how long they’d waited to play The Mann, I started imagining his younger self – perhaps with less facial hair and  a higher-pitched voice – as a patron in the crowd years ago thinking “someday my band is gonna be on that stage and we’re gonna rock the fucking shit out of it.” And that was enough for me to get past some of the musical missteps and enjoy a couple guys fulfilling a lifelong dream. Next year at the Wachovia center? 


Best jam: Rockafella (night two, set two)
While the composed section was average, when Brownstein took off the bass and hopped on the MIDI, the jam that took off was absolutely on fire. They were locked in, listening to one another and feeding off the crowd’s energy. It was good.

Best transition: Mashing up King of the World with Rock Candy (night two, set two)
Right after Marc Brownstein relayed his kid-before-Christmas-like merriment while roaming the venue alone before any patrons showed up, the band played a metaphorical “King of the World” that was mixed up with the “Rock Candy” introduction. Jon Gutwillig and Aron Magner continued to play the two melodies against one another for several measures before the Rock Candy drop. It was good.

Worst tune: Bombs (night one, set two)

Best supporting act: Ott. and the All Seeing I
Ott. is a master of psychedelic dub wizardry. A longtime member of the Twisted family, Ott. brought out his brand new four-piece band for a spin at City Bisco, elevating his live show to a whole other level. The set had some of the most intricate and beautiful textures of the entire weekend and was undoubtedly a favorite wildcard treat for the audience to feast upon.

Best DJ-set bustout: Pass the Courvoisier Part 2 (Puff Daddy/Busta Rhymes) - Spun by A-Trak
Enough said.

Link to City Bisco Photo Slideshow by Bethany Rees:

Tags: ElectroHip HopHouseLivetronicaDowntempoDrum and BassBreaksDubstepGlitchTechnoTrance