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 10/31/15

(a) setlist

Setlist.fm isn’t acknowledging that this was a real show, which is SO unfortunate because it was Halloween and I was dressed as Han Solo and wore a badass blaster holster – do you think I remember most of the setlist???

(b) highlights

  • despite neither me nor setlist.fm remembering what WAS played that night, I can say for sure that they played a 12-minute rendition of “Don’t Fear The Reaper” by Blue Oyster Cult that was only about 3 minutes of actual music and 9 minutes of banter
  • it was Halloween, so everyone was dressed up – Keith, Chris, and drummer Keith all wore lady bug costumes (I know), but each with a little twist; Keith wore a crown, so was a lady bug king, Chris wore a sheriff star, so was a lady bug sheriff, and drummer Keith wore tie-dye and groovy glasses, so was a lady bug hippie – need I say more
  • they brought a dude wearing a business suit and unicorn head on-stage for a song, no really, need I say more
  • I live, literally LIVE for We Are Scientists on-stage banter, give Keith and Chris their own TV show I swear to God
  • the band was projecting a “scary” movie behind them the whole show, which was actually about zombies, sharks, and a topless deep sea diver – no, I’m not kidding, it was incredible

(c) lowlights

  • I think everyone in the entire venue, band included, was totally wasted

(d) overall thoughts

Halloween is always fun. We Are Scientists are always fun. This night was fun squared, trust me. Tickets were $6.66 and Rough Trade in Brooklyn is a fun venue with a built-in record store to boot. Whenever costumes, movie projections, and stopping mid-song about 15 times to instruct a dude dressed as the reaper to be “more scary” and “reap” members of the audience, are involved…you know it was a good show.

Shout out to the dude in the business suit wearing the unicorn mask and the woman by the bar playing the kazoo loud enough to bother Chris all night…you guys are the real heroes for prompting some of the best random stand-up comedy performed by a Brooklyn band I’ve ever seen. To quote Frankie Valli – oh what a night.

Bottom line: I remember more of this night than probably anyone else at the show because I’m pretty sure everyone was drunk, but more so than anything…We Are Scientists are the best.

Note: For some reason, this is the only photo I have of the whole night, which further suggests that this entire event was a bit of a fever dream.


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.

We Are Scientists (Surfer Blood Benefit) 5/12/15

(a) setlist

    1. After Hours

(b) highlights

  • seeing a looooot of bands I otherwise wouldn’t have
  • helping raise money for a good cause
  • literally watching a two and a half hour show just to see We Are Scientists play “After Hours” = worth it

(c) lowlights

  • cancer sucks

(d) overall thoughts

Even though I’ve never really known much about the band Surfer Blood, I remember when I first read that their guitarist Thomas Fekete was battling cancer. The whole story was pretty devastating, and this show was put together as a benefit for both him and the band to come together to help pay some of his medical bills. What a world we live in where that happens.

Surfer Blood and We Are Scientists weren’t the only bands to play, so we also got to see peeps like Julianna Barwick, Cults, Marnie Stern, Kip Berman of The Pains of Being Pure at Heart, Andy Boay, and others. It was a small taste of all these people who knew Surfer Blood and Tommy well, so it was a bittersweet experience.

We Are Scientists were their usual selves, seemingly stumbling onstage in ripped up t-shirts probably purchased at K-Mart and just roaring into one of their instant classics, “After Hours.” Does anyone not love that song? If anyone says they don’t, they’re lying. Fact.

Bottom Line: Cancer sucks, but it’s cool when people get together to jam and raise money.