photo: Tara Gracer


A Night at The Space Opera

There was nothing but love in the room at Webster Hall as the Disco Biscuits celebrated the release of Revolution in Motion, their first studio album since 2011’s Otherwise Law Abiding Citizens. Their avid fans showed up in droves to see the band perform the full album live for the first time, and the Biscuits treated the sold-out crowd to a tale of how they once saved the universe (or at least the planets Earth and Polyfuzia) with trance fusion music, told by way of a multimedia trance rock musical / dance party / shredfest and microcosm for just how fucking dialed in this band is right now. 

Since Guitarist Jon “Barber” Gutwillig’s 2019 declaration of the end of “set break,” the Disco Biscuits have diligently, if quietly, cultivated a creative renaissance that has built the momentum of a runaway train. Gutwillig and keyboardist Aron Magner have been working with author Nicholas Schmidle to develop a musical from Gutwillig’s canonical 1998 rock opera, Hot Air Balloon, leading to new songs such as “Falling,” which has made it into regular rotation since its May 2023 debut in Reykjavik, Iceland. 

The band has been touring relentlessly and performing the hell out of new tunes like “Dino Baby” and “Photograph” as they continue to take their Why We Dance tour across the country. But none of this would have been possible if not for the band’s multi-year creative partnership with longtime friend Joey Friedman to conceptualize, write, and tour on a set of songs comprising a “space opera” that ultimately took the form of Revolution in Motion, an accompanying animated film, and the setlist for the Webster Hall show.

From the jump, the Disco Biscuits have been a live band, so new songs and albums can be exciting, in part, because of the new jam vehicles they represent. In mid-March of this year, after a show at the House of Blues in Boston, Magner shared on Instagram that these songs had become fully imprinted in their brains, freeing them up to continue to explore and refine their live renderings. This could not have been more evident as the band stretched the 71-minute album into nearly four hours of music, kicking off the first set with album opener “Shocked,” a four-on-the-floor banger that has become a setlist regular since its August 2022 debut. The band took their time, stretching the song into a persistent 25-minute jam, the longest of the night, with varying intensities that perfectly set the tone for their segue into the hypnotically heavy vibe of “The Wormhole,” propelled by bassist Marc Brownstein’s bouncing lines and drummer Allen Aucoin’s hybrid analog and electronic beats.

The first set flowed with no breaks between songs, the band’s sonic dynamics ranging from heavily overdriven lead guitar to ethereal synth landscapes; pulsating, metronomic rhythms to a variety of beeps, boops, bleeps, sweeps, and creeps. Singer Erin Boyd, who also appears on the album, joined the band for a 20-minute “Twisted in the Road,” which led directly into an almost equally long version of “Another Plan of Attack.” In addition to their typical light show, the band’s stage set included visuals similar to the animated short film released along with the album, and after the band worked through a raging “Times Square,” eliciting cheers apropos of a New York crowd, and the peak jams in closer, “Freeze,” the crowd was ready for set break and eager to hear how the rest of the album wound sound.

After just under a half hour to breathe, the band gradually launched into their second set opener, “Tourists (Rocket Ship),” featuring Matteo Scammell on vocals. From here, they moved into Magner-penned “Spaga’s Last Stand,” with Magner stepping out from behind the boards to don a keytar and, naturally, join Brownie and Barber out front, along with Cloudchord, a guitarist, producer, and frequent collaborator who also sat in with the band. As Barber switched between his Gibson and PRS throughout the show, he didn’t miss a beat in what turned out to be a night — and second set, in particular — of uniquely and idiosyncratically face-melting guitar work, with ample support from an able rhythm section that called to mind Talking Heads, LCD Soundsystem, and Nile Rodgers’ production work. The audience was all smiles as Boyd and Scammell returned towards the end of the second set, and as the show drew to a close around 1am, the exhausted, satiated, and grateful crowd — the best in the scene these days — left the venue basking in the afterglow of what everybody knew was a special show.