We Are Scientists 1/12/17

(a) setlist

    1. Make It Easy
    2. Cash Cow
    3. Chick Lit
    4. Buckle
    5. Dumb Luck
    6. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
    7. Rules Don’t Stop
    8. It’s A Hit
    9. I Don’t Bite
    10. What You Do Best
    11. Textbook
    12. We Need A Word
    13. Impatience
    14. After Hours
    15. The Great Escape


  1. Nice Guys
  2. Too Late

(b) highlights

  • as the kids say these days, We Are Scientists is bae
  • always down for Keith + Chris (and sometimes + Drummer Keith) = comedy hour
  • the crowd was shockingly great – saw the usual faces but a ton of newbies too; it’s cool to think how far this band has come in a lot of ways
  • they played my fav song off the new album, “We Need To Have a Word”!!
  • that encore felt very fresh and new – a nice change from the usual show closer of “After Hours”
  • all-around solid setlist – packed with the usual hits, obviously, but arranged in a new way that kept momentum high and gave new songs room to breathe
  • Christopher Cain: bassist, comedian, curly hair extraordinaire, period.

(c) lowlights

  • this was probably the first time in 10+ years of seeing this band that I thought they looked tired while performing.

(d) overall thoughts

We Are Scientists will always be my band. I’ll always love them, I’ll always see them, no matter what, until the end of time. This isn’t really news. What is interesting abut seeing a band like this one – local heroes of NYC who are and have been supremely underrated for over a decade – is watching all the ways they’ve changed over the years and all the ways they haven’t.

Anyone who’s seen We Are Scientists live will tell you that their show is – for lack of better phrase – a real romp. It’s usually two parts musical act, one part comedy schtick, and one and half parts IDGAF attitude that creates the perfection combination of charm. Keith Murray and Chris Cain have always given off the air that WAS is something fun, a side project that alludes to something everyone slapped together in a garage to blow off some steam and chill with some dudes. The guys are funny, joke around, and are otherwise aloof to what’s happening musically or practically outside the walls of the venue during showtime. This attitude has attracted a disproportionately high male fanbase compared to other indie rock tribes, and a comfort level of performance that has them fit like a glove in any Brooklyn venue on a weekday night.

But anyone who’s actually real fan of WAS know that all of that is just an act. It’s nothing but a farce. Even a surface-level lyrical listen to any of the band’s five studio album shows that this band has genuine heart, touchy-feely emotions, and enough harmonies to make a Beach Boy perk up his ears. Having this understanding of the band’s true selves in light of their performance selves gives every live show a wink-wink, nudge-nudge layer of meta-commentary. And in a strange way, that’s what makes their shows so fun. Yeah, they’re goofy and cracking jokes, and sometimes spend more time on the in-between song banter than playing their actual songs, but the band can’t help but expose themselves on songs like “Textbook,” “Make It Easy,” and “We Need A Word.” They’re the sensitive bros who aren’t too afraid to be sensitive, but they’re gonna crack two jokes for every heartfelt lyric just in case someone actually realizes that these guys genuinely care about their music and their performance. Somewhere along the way, WAS tricked us into thinking they were just two dudes who liked to jam on Saturday nights when they’re really a pair of hard-working musicians who’ve never quite received the comeuppance they deserved.


Bottom line: We Are Scientists are solid musicians who’ve been playing tricks on us for decades, and I can’t wait for the inevitable moment that everyone comes around and awakens to their subtle genius.

We Are Scientists 5/11/16

(a) setlist

First set:

    1. Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt
    2. This Scene Is Dead
    3. Inaction
    4. Can’t Lose
    5. Callbacks
    6. Cash Cow
    7. It’s a Hit
    8. The Great Escape
    9. Textbook
    10. Lousy Reputation
    11. Worth The Wait
    12. What’s The Word

Second set:

  1. Rules Don’t Stop
  2. Buckle
  3. Chick Lit
  4. Classic Love
  5. I Don’t Bite
  6. Dumb Luck
  7. Impatience
  8. In My Head
  9. Make It Easy
  10. Nice Guys
  11. After Hours
  12. Too Late

(b) highlights

  • seeing the entirety of the CLASSIC album With Love and Squalor
  • Michael Tapper, the original drummer of WAS who played on the first album, came back to play the first set with Keith and Chris – this was the first time they all jammed since 2006/07ish; this made me strangely emotional because the first few times I saw WAS live, Michael was their drummer
  • that classic Keith and Chris between-song banter gives life to my soul
  • the entire second set was ON.POINT.
  • the crowd was shockingly good – seemed like everyone knew the new songs as well as the oldies
  • Keith Carne, the current WAS drummer, always freaking kills it
  • the phrase of the night: “it’s not a We Are Scientists show unless Keith breaks something and then we fear for his life”
  • “Too Late” is a brand new song, but somehow the perfect set closer, freaking loved it

(c) lowlights

  • wish they had played my current favorite song on the new album, “We Need a Word”

(d) overall thoughts

The first time I saw We Are Scientists, they opened for Arctic Monkeys (!) at the Henry Fonda in LA on March 15, 2006 (!). For 10 years, I’ve loved watching these dudes perform – anyone who’s seen them live would certainly agree. This show at Irving Plaza was a special 10-year anniversary celebration for the release of their debut album With Love and Squalor – the album that made a lot of people fall in love with them. Even better – the band still played a full set immediately following that With Love and Squalor performance. How sick is that?

Adding a wonderful flourish, Keith Murray and Chris Cain played With Love and Squalor with their original drummer Michael Tapper, who left the band before their second album was released in 2007. It felt like a strange blast from the past seeing him, and – in a bizarre way – made me realize how much We Are Scientists have stayed the same over the years. Yeah – they’ve grown as performers, musicians, and songwriters, but they’re still the same lanky dudes singing the same songs and making the same jokes. And that’s why they’re so awesome. It’s all fun in a familiar way, like hanging out with old friends.

The second set featured four new songs off their most recent album, which only came out last week, Helter Seltzer. The crowd was loving every minute of it and I was elated to finally feel like everyone was dancing just as much as I was. I got a good feeling about this album; its reception is gonna be stellar. Ultimately, I’m so proud of these dudes and I’ll continue to support them as long as they keep making awesome tunes and making me laugh – which I imagine will keep happening until death.

Bottom Line: I’ve been a WAS fan for a decade and there’s no sign of stopping. Also, if you claim to be a WAS fan and you don’t sing “if you’re the night sky, then act like the night sky” during “Nice Guys,” then you’re lying.