If anyone thought Monday nights couldn't be funky, they didn't see the Disco Biscuits perform Nov. 4 at the Showplace Theater.
The improvisational/jam quartet from Philadelphia, which recently released their new album, "Se?+/-or Boombox," delivered a high-energy, innovative and simply entertaining performance, winning the crowd and owning the stage.
When the band first stepped up, lead singer and guitarist Jon Gutwillig told the audience he obtained his brown shirt for free at a store called Octopus's Garden when he frowned at the shopkeeper's $6 asking price.
"That's the key," Gutwillig said. "Just try to act all bummed out when they try to charge you for something."
On that note, the Biscuits launched into their set, which consisted of a mixture of rock, funk and electronica. The audience was immediately taken over and the entire room seemed to be dancing. With all the bouncing going on, there were sure to be plenty of young people with sore joints waking up Tuesday morning.
The second song of the night was "Eulogy." It started off slow and very melodic, with Gutwillig soulfully singing "there's more to the world than what I've seen/there's more to my life than my eulogy/and if I ask my maker for one more day/when all my chances are slipping away."
At first it appeared as if the song would be extremely personal and borderline sentimental, until Marc Brownstein's bass kicked in hard and the band started rocking. The song's progression from sweetness to pounding rhythms was appropriate given that it's a celebration of a bittersweet life that's more than worth living.
In the very beginning of the show, and at some points throughout, Gutwillig's amazing guitar took a backseat to Aron Magner's keyboards, which at times were a little simplistic. At the same time, it took Brownstein's bass licks a bit of time to warm up and overcome drummer Sam Altman's clanging cymbals.
But once the band became more comfortable with the crowd and played in-synch, the Biscuits meshed into a single, musical entity and were completely in tune with one another. One fan, Steve Pane, described the band's chemistry as "organized confusion."
"The sum is greater than its parts," said Sean P. Kelly, a Disco Biscuits fan who drove down from Canada to see the show. "(The band) seemed to be playing individually but coming together as a whole."
One of the more memorable songs of the night was "Morph Dusseldorf," which was played by audience request. It was during this song that Gutwillig's guitar took the driver's seat and he put his fancy technical skills to work. Brownstein was able to match his energy equally with the hard-hitting bass lines.
Nearly everyone in the crowd was singing along with Gutwillig when he sang: "Morph is who a boy you see/he's changing as we speak/from adavan to aleman in twenty-forms a week/A rock at three to feel still the wind at four to fly."
For those who are unfamiliar or unaccustomed to this musical genre, the Disco Biscuits served up a typical jam session that relied heavily on improvisation, but always stayed in tune to the mood of the crowd, so as not to disconnect themselves from the audience while hypnotized by a funky groove.
When they finished their set, the audience cheered and stomped the floor hard and ceaselessly until the band took to the stage once again for an encore, which was as long as a full performance.
The audience was a mixture of devoted fans and Disco Biscuit rookies, none of whom seemed disappointed. While there were plenty of neo-hippies with dreadlocks and patchouli oil, it was startling to see some Fred Durst look-alikes in hoodies and baggy pants frolicking around like elves in a field.
With exception of a few very inebriated, rowdy people, the general atmosphere was one of friendship, warmth and fun. During the set break, Rock promoter Jimmy T shouted: "You might not be the greatest crowd in the world, but you know how to party!"
Erik Lema, a senior philosophy and environmental studies major from UB, had never seen the Disco Biscuits perform and was converted into a fan.
"I think that, like Phish, they are able to bring the keyboards into the music in such a way as to tie the rest of the elements of the band together, but not impede their presence," said Lema.