Peter's Room at the Roseland Theatre, Portland, OR 2/9/11
By Chris CalarcoFebruary 23, 2011
For only the second time in ten years members of the Disco Biscuits stepped onto the fertile ground of the Pacific Northwest. The sane ones of us here in Portland, Oregon and the Northwest at large have long given up hope of Marc Brownstein and Aron Magner’s titanic livetronica innovators returning to our beautiful corner of the country but for one night at Peter’s Room inside the Roseland Theater we were fortunate to have another chance to dance with their side project Conspirator. A show that was originally slated to be at the Rose City’s wonderful Fez Ballroom was moved to the Roseland after STS9 had to cancel their winter tour due to bassist Dave Murphy’s health concerns. Thoughts and prayers to them and their far-reaching family. While Roseland is a 1400 seat venue, Peter’s Room is a bar on the first floor that holds 400 and Conspirator made the right call by deciding to play this room on Wednesday February 9th. Harkening back to the down low setting of many old school Bisco explosions between 1998 and 1999 it was great to rewind the vibe while moving forward in sound.
Conspirator took to the stage to approximately 300 starved NW heads. Joining the two Biscos on stage were guitarist Chris Michetti (RAQ) and drummer Lane Shaw (Pnuma Trio). Opening with an absolutely blistering “Caves of the East” the band immediately declared their intention to throw down. Through their secret plotting inside a roving tour-bus-studio, Conspirator delivered immensely thick electro rhythms layered with Snoop and Beastie Boys vocal samples. Propelled forward by Magner’s leadership and his Middle Eastern influenced leads, it was apparent we were getting a buoyantly inspired band.
The permanent addition of Michetti and rotating live drummers has deepened the evolving Conspirator experiment that began with the release of their 2005 album The Key. Subterranean psy-dub textures evoke a Twisted Records vibe; no doubt Brownstein and Magner widened their electronic music ideas during their collaborations with Simon Posford, Benji Vaughn, and Ott of the famed UK label. The band spiraled outward from here, sculpting and peeling away layers of drum n’ bass, dub step bangin and Biscuit-y peaks creating a unique hybrid of genres. Michetti’s shredtastic leanings on guitar throw a wicked slider into the mix, birthing the band’s fusion into warped dub metal. However, Michetti also managed to lay back and seamlessly fit into the downtempo electro feel by searing through clipped, staccato phrases with precision.
At two points in the night the band concretely manifested their aggressive power by literally burning a hole in the venue speaker, igniting the funky smell burnt sparklers before security doused the speaker with water and seamlessly rolled in a replacement! During the set closing “Oname’Wa”, Michetti blew his amp and spent the encore, his new gooey textured and thumping original, slicing guitar sounds into Brownstein’s midi-keyboard.
Most importantly for the Biscuit starved Northwest, it was truly wonderful to see a solid group of Portland heads turn out and get down. While the Biscuit’s “go for the throat” form of electronica is sometimes thought to be less of a snug fit for Northwest hippies than STS9’s more overtly mellow vibe, Portland kids brought the heat for Magner and Brownstein - showing they too love and respect a night of musical warfare. Come back soon fellas.