Every festival has its own unique vibes, or flavor, if you will. City Bisco (which was hopefully the first of an annual event) had the full force of Philly flavor and was a rowdy, raged-filled weekend. “Ah, a lot of good times at the Mann Center…” the Disco Biscuits reminisced after their first pause from a wild introductory few songs on Friday evening. The 14,000 seat indoor/outdoor Mann Center located in West Philadelphia proved to be a perfect location for such a special event. There is a clear view of the stage from almost anywhere in the venue, whether you’re up in the pit, under the roof in the sea of seats, or even out on the lawn under the stars. Not to mention there’s a wicked view of the city skyline and surrounding area.
Being at City Bisco was as if everyone at this summer’s Camp Bisco XI had just taken a short break, crawled out of their tents, and magically awoke in Philly for another round of laser lights and non-stop hip shaking. Everyone seemed more than ecstatic to squeeze in one last hurrah before the end of the festival season. The performances were as diverse as the city’s inhabitants, each bringing their own energy to keep Philly moving.
RJD2, a native to Philadelphia, played one of the first sets, setting the mood on the main stage while the crowds poured in. Spinning vinyl the whole set, his beats were smooth and mellow, and despite the small crowd, everyone was head bobbing as they walked by, scoping out the venue. Those who were already ready to boogie headed to the appropriately named Skyline Stage, where Cinnamon Chasers and Aeroplane kept it funky for hours, spinning new disco and funky house tracks. The sun went down and the energy picked up as toe tapping turned into all out grooving as the crowd anticipated the first appearance of the Biscuits.
The Disco Biscuits certainly did not disappoint as they opened their first set with a bang. In addition to their usual over-the-top lights and lasers show, there was a three-panel LED video screen behind them, further fueling the chaos of the night. They didn’t slow it down for the entire hour and half set, leaving the crowd screaming for more. To keep the party going, Diplo (another Philly native) took over the stage and played an extremely eclectic set, jumping from house to dubstep to hip-hop and back around again. Though it wasn’t exactly fluid, he played something for everyone (and especially for the girls who took to the stage during his wildly popular “Express Yourself”). After an hour it was time for the Biscuits to take the reigns again.
Nobody but the Biscuits can play “Safety Dance”, Floyd’s “Run Like Hell” and trance music all in the same set and never miss a beat. This set was the standout set of the weekend, with mind-boggling visuals and ear-shattering sounds. For the inevitable encore they ended with fan-favorite “Highwire”, with every fan singing along to the lyrics about a childhood dream. The crowd reluctantly left with a lingering rush of adrenaline, even more eager for the next day’s performances.
Though Saturday was a lot cooler in temperature, Bisco fans were just as ready to go hard again for round two. While the beginning of the day was slow, Philly-based jam band (and friends of the Disco Biscuits) Brothers Past got things going on the Skyline Stage. Soon after, another legendary jam band named Papadosio kept the same vibes going on the main stage with a chill daytime set. Paper Diamond took over afterwards with a set of heavy hip-hop bass and dubstep while there were more chill things happening up on the hill on the second stage. Ott, known for his earthy dub and psychill beats, played with his newly formed band, The All-Seeing I. They began with a slow, swirling bass groove as the crowd grew, intrigued by the full band mixing Eastern and reggae sounds seamlessly. Those familiar with the sounds of Ott surely got the most out of the set, as he refreshed his tunes by having a band accompany him, all while staying true to his spacey sounds by hooking up the live instruments to several Kaoss pads. The English producer warped the vocals, bass, and guitar while simultaneous providing synths and even whipping out a melodica instrument that is part of his signature sound.
As the sun went down and the temperature dropped, the energy heated up. Tipper, who seems to be on the edge of fame in the EDM world, tore up the Skyline Stage with his bass-heavy anthems of glitch hop and dubstep. Hoopers, spinners, and glovers roamed the grassy lawn with their LED toys, mesmerizing those bouncing with the beat. It was the perfect precedent to the Biscuits’ third appearance on the main stage.
If even possible, the visuals of the Disco Biscuits’ second night on stage were even crazier than the first. Mandalas and fractcal-like videos hypnotized fans, making it almost impossible to look away as the guys shredded away on stage. Visions of choppers flew by during “Helicopters” and it seemed too soon when they ended the first set. It was then time for well-known producer A-Trak to take over. Like the previous night’s DJ Diplo, he spun a variety of genres, dropping everything from Daft Punk to Luminox to a medley of hip-hop anthems. A highlight was hearing both his own infamous remix of “Heads Will Roll” as well as underground Philly producer G-Buck’s killer trap version of the track.
The crowd welcomed the Biscuits back for one final set on their own turf, where they once again caused some raucous. Knowing it was their last chance to throw down some moves, fans danced whole-heartedly and took in last glimpses of the fantastic lightshow. The final encore ended with a reprise of “And The Ladies Were The Rest Of The Night” and “I-Man” (which they also played at this year’s Camp), leaving the crowd roaring.
The Disco Biscuits mentioned that it had been their dream to play the Mann Center for years and gave many thanks to the supporting acts, the venue, and of course the fans for finally making it happen. City Bisco was an unforgettable weekend festival and hopefully the first of many more incredible shows at the Mann to be hosted by the Biscuits in the years to come.