Live in Los Angeles: WE ARE SCIENTISTS

Live in Los Angeles:


Saturday, July 16, 2016
El Rey Theatre
Los Angeles, CA

Words by Dan Sinclair
Pictures by Nicolas Bates


July 16, 2016 was a big night for We Are Scientists... as well as for Nick and I.  Okay, so probably bigger for the band, since they were celebrating the ten-year anniversary of their debut album With Love and Squalor, but it had been a while since the two of us had covered a show at the El Rey, so it was good to be back. But before We Are Scientists took the stage, the soothing psychedelic pop sounds of The Palms played to a nearly packed house. Fresh off a two-week stint opening for the headliners, the Los Angeles natives were happy to be back home and finished out their set with a song about being born and raised in Los Angeles-- "Stupid LA Love Song."


L.A. natives The Palms playing their first show at the El Rey


But shortly thereafter, the lights dimmed, the curtain opened and the now fully packed house went fucking nuts as Keith Murray picked up his guitar, Chris Cain grabbed his bass and Keith Carne sat behind the drum set. Murray says hello and then tells us, "We wrote songs a decade ago and we mostly remember how they go." But the crowd definitely remembered "Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt" right from the first chord and emphatically sang along: "My body is your body/I won't tell anybody/If you want to use my body, go for it!"


We Are Scientists, all of us


Fans used their own bodies very well, while not quite moshing, they were certainly bopping their heads and dancing around in a frenzy. Celebrating the ten-year anniversary, We Are Scientists were playing the entire album named for a JD Salinger short story in its entirety, so it was no surprise that "This Scene Is Dead" was next. Everyone here at BeerMoviesMusic can surely appreciate the line "Drinking myself into excess," as the El Rey clapped along to Cain's groovy bass line. Okay, shit. Now some of the more ambitious fans are actually moshing for the heavier "Inaction."

We Are... feeling the energy here, oh, yeah.


But the fellas aren't just there to make us dance, laughter is what they truly seek. Cain asks the crowd, "How many of you were not born yet when With Love and Squalor was written?" But turns out it's a trick question. According to Cain's calculations, no one was actually alive when the album was written-- everybody in the world was dead. He assures us his math is correct and that his assistant double-checked it all. Unfortunately, we come to find out his assistant was a $210 bottle of vintage wine. Then it's Murray that tells a joke: "What's the difference between a Harley and a Hoover? The size of the scumbag on it." He strikes his guitar to emphasize the punchline before launching right into "Make It Easy," followed by "Callbacks."


Chris Cain and his research assistant


Then Cain remarks, "One cool thing about a set like this is that requests are pretty much off the table." The guys that were moshing before, now pump their fists as they sing along to the "Cash Cow" chorus: "I'm not gonna wait for anything to happen/All at once, I'm ready for the cash-in." Then they jumps up and down as high as they can for "It's a Hit." Spoiler alert: They're white, dudes, so it's not very high. But one of them does get up pretty high when he crowd surfs during "The Great Escape." He actually makes it all the way onto the stage, where security politely helps him escape stage left.


Keith Murray taking the lead


Heavy reverb echoes over Carne's steady drum beat... and admirable smile. The drummer hasn't been able to wipe that thing off his face since the show started. Murray puts his guitar down and falls backwards into the crowd to do a little crowd surfing of his own to sing "Textbook." When he comes back to stage, he accepts a drink from a fan who I assume was not Bill Cosby (Too soon or too late?) He falls to a knee for the chorus, then heads back into the crowd, making his way on foot all the way back to sound booth.

The crowd loves Murray and he loves them back... respectfully, of course


When he returns, he asks his band mates how it went while he was gone, to which Cain replies, "It all fell apart. We lost all of our shoes and gloves. Your cat is M.I.A." After they play "Lousy Reputation," they assure the crowd that Murray is not allowed within 1,000 feet of any cat and that no cats were on stage. "Except for the jawbones of cats Keith wears around his neck," says Cain, drawing boos from the crowd, which all turn to cheers when "Worth the Wait" comes up next.

This bass line was definitely worth the wait


We Are Scientists close the set and album with "What's the Word," before they promise to return. The curtain drops and the Jeopardy theme song starts playing... for a good ten minutes straight. When the band returns, they wear black suits with cat banners hanging up behind them-- one cat smokes while the other wears a We Are Scientists gold chain. Cain thanks everyone for sticking around and apologizes to everyone for cutting the Jeopardy theme song short. "Don't worry. We'll be playing it for hours after the show." But instead of Jeopardy, the encore set begins with "Rules Don't Stop" of the 2010 album Barbara and "Buckle" off their latest record Helter Seltzer. Murray pulls the mic stand with him as he falls to the floor to sing the chorus for "Chick Lit"-- "I asked you nicely, but I won't do that again."

Murray asking nicely once last time


Cain says, "It's great to be back here at the El Rey... after that ten to 12 minute pause, before going on a very long rant, I won't even begin to try and repeat, but will tell you it used a voice distortion and ended with him looking at the crowd and shouting, "Who the fuck are they?" But even if he didn't remember his fans, he did remember the bass lines for "I Don't Bite" and "Dumb Luck."

Cain doesn't care who the fuck they are, he just plays for them


It's a big night for Mr. Keith Carne, and we finally realize while he's smiling. Tonight, he plays in his 400th show for We Are Scientists. His band mates reward him by playing one of the songs he was a part off on their last record, "In My Head," followed by "Make It Easy."

The two seconds that Keith Murray wasn't smiling


Before playing "Nice Guys," Cain asks that everyone just clap after the song, and they'll just stay on stage for the encore because they don't feel like walking up those stairs to the green room again. "I hope we aren't presuming too much here." 

An encore of Chris Cain


They do stay and play "After Hours," and a young lady rushes up on stage to dance next to Murray for a few seconds before security escorts her off stage. Murray then does the opposite and rushes back into the crowd for "Too Late." This time he carries plays his guitar up close and personal for the most loyal of fans who stayed for the duration of the two-hour plus performance. Very few walked out before 1:00 a.m. Sunday morning, and only one person complained. But that was me, and I was only complaining about the El Rey's beer selection (or lack thereof). But as far as the rockin' science? No complaints here at all.


For more on We Are Scientists, head on over to




For more of Nicolas Bates' Photography, check out
For more on Dan Sinclair's writing check out
or follow him on Twitter @seedanwrite



written and directed by Matt Ross

Captain Fantastic definitely lived up to the adjective in its title, but I’ll get to that in a second. Let’s talk a little about Q&A’s for a second, shall we? Beer.Movies.Music was present at the Arclight Hollywood on Friday, July 8th to not only watch this gem of an indie film starring Viggo Mortenson, but to also catch actor Chris Messina interview writer/director Matt Ross following the screening. The only thing better than seeing a new film on the big screen is to hear the filmmakers’ insight immediately following said film. And if you have a lingering question sitting on the tip of your tongue as the credits role, you just might get a chance to get your answer if you are one of the lucky few folks who get called on. Or you could use that opportunity to try and promote yourself and say fuck everyone else.

Here's a shitty picture from that night.


And that’s exactly what one woman did on Friday. She sat right there in the front row, and when Messina called on her, her response—directed to Ross—was, “Um, you’re also an actor, right?” Which first of all, if you’re gonna pull this shit, you should at the very least know who the person is before trying to get them to hire you. She then announced that she was, in fact, an actor in the most melodramatically way possible, even taking a beat for applause that never came. She then said, “As an actor, I’ve been really disappointed in the quality of roles I get… [blah, blah, fucking blah] and I’m looking to start writing and directing. What advice do you have for me?”

Ross was much more patient and friendlier than I would’ve been, telling her more or less to just get out there and do it. You want to write, start writing hundreds of scripts to hone your craft. You want to direct, make some short films and again, make hundreds and hundreds honing your craft, etc. In other words, you want to start into a new line of work, start fucking working, and maybe you’ll get there one day in the future.  Had I gotten the chance (after insulting the woman for a good 15 minutes), I would’ve asked her a question like, “So, you’re a failed actor who wants to quit acting and just fall-ass backwards into writing and directing? Do you think those who have spent their whole lives writing and/or directing could now just grab all those roles you failed to grasp simply by now calling themselves actors?”

And here's a shittier one to distract you from how goddamn long this review is


Matt Ross did actually get to talk things other than this woman’s acting career for a little bit though, and that’s where we learned the inspiration for Captain Fantastic came from discussions he’s had with his own wife about raising their children. “Child rearing” is not only a weird phrase to say out loud, it’s also the central theme for the film, and how everyone seems to have their own “right” way to raise not only their children, but yours as well. What is the right way? Is there a right way? Is there a wrong way? Fuck it, I’m never having kids. But as for the film itself, Captain Fantastic is one of those movies for everyone… well, except for those who are offended by the F word and aren’t comfortable with full frontal nudity, of course. It hits every emotion, but does so without coming off as forced and/or cheesy, all while maintaining a pretty damn good sense of humor with some pretty dark material. This isn’t Ross’ first venture on the other side of the camera, and it certainly will not be his last. As great as the character of Gavin Belson is, I think Ross can do much bigger and better things for the film world writing and directing.

Viggo Mortenson is the only person in the world who could have played this role and it is, in fact, the role he was born to play. The child actors are great, too, and the score is by Sigur Ros’ Jonsi Birgisson. Everything is great. Go see it. This is an easy recommendation to pretty much everyone. Well, except for that former actor turned budding writer/director in the front row. I would’ve recommended her to have been anywhere else that night, and I think everyone in attendance aside from her would’ve agreed with me.


Feature Review: SWISS ARMY MAN


Written and directed by Dan Kwan & Daniel Schienert


The highlight of the Q&A following the premiere of Swiss Army Man at the Arclight Hollywood was when Dan Kwan held up his cell phone to the microphone to play the audience a recorded fart. It was during this time that we learned that many of the fart sounds in the film were actual farts, though the filmmakers did actually try creating artificial fart sounds using ordinary household products, but none quite sounded wet enough for a jet ski propelled by a dead man's ass. Paul Dano was also on-hand to relay a story about going over at Daniel Radcliffe's apartment months prior to filming. After a few drinks, Radcliffe asked, "Do you want to start sticking your fingers in my mouth now?" Dano politely declined and recommended they wait until shooting starts.

And that's partly what makes Swiss Army Man so great-- the dedication to the story on by all parties involved. It's rare in this day and age for something to actually make onto a movie screen and feel... different. But that's exactly what Dan Kwan and Daniel Schienert did. I can speak from the writer's side of things, and tell you that too often great ideas are adjusted, compromised or just flat-out tossed aside out of fear of appealing to the masses (or in some cases, the studios), and those great ideas turn devolve into mediocrity or worse. 

Swiss Army Man is about a castaway who finds a dead body that comes back to life in order to show the lonely castaway how to truly live. That was the great idea and they stuck to their guns. In their world, Manny the dead man (Radcliffe) has all the tools that the castaway (Dano) needs to survive, and uses every part of his body to do so. His farts propel them to sail across the water, his spit can quench your thirst, his erection points the way home-- none of these things are exactly the PC kinds of storytelling devices you'd find in 99% of the movies out there, and guaranteed if this was a studio film, all these ideas would've been shot down in the rewrites. "Hmm, how about he points with his leg instead of his penis? Legs are funny, right?"

But the directing duo known as Daniels didn't fold. They told their story the way that it had to be told and the result was fantastically imaginative, beautiful movie-making that I haven't seen in years. It hits all the senses-- you can practically smell the farts, I swear. You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll get angry, you'll feel happy, you find moments where you can relate and you'll feel human. Dano and Radcliffe are mind-blowing. Not only can I not recommend this film to everyone who loves movies, I'll take it a step further and say this is the type of film that will inspire other filmmakers to make better films.





Directed by Nicolas Winding Refn/Written by Refn, Mary Laws and Polly Stenham

By his own admission at the Q&A following The Neon Demon at The Dome at Arclight Hollywood, Nicolas Winding Refn has always wanted to be a teenage girl, and has now, perhaps, gotten to live out that fantasy in this horror movie where the "monster" is beauty. But as anyone who has seen others films by the Danish auteur would already know, this is not your typical teenage horror flick. It's flashy, it's stylistic, it's shocking, it's violent and it's flat-out fucked up most of the time. Oh, and that's a good thing.

Refn is a very polarizing filmmaker, most love or hate him. Even those who love him have a hard time loving everything he does-- personally I loved Drive almost as much as I passionately loathed Only God Forgives. The Neon Demons fell somewhere in-between, but the more I think about it, the more it leans toward the Drive end of the spectrum. It's one of those films that gets stuck up there in your brain like a parasite and won't let you stop thinking about it no matter how hard you want to. I can't recommend this film to everyone, of course, but anyone who has enjoyed Refn's films in the past won't be disappointed. Also, Elle Fanning & Jena Malone are great, and Keanu Reeves plays a really good role (as a total slimy douche).




Directed by Anne Fontaine/Screenplay by Sabrina B. Karine & Alice Vial/Adaption & Dialogue by Pascal Bonitzer & Fontaine

The Innocents is not exactly the feel-good story of the summer, but it's an important story that needed to be told, so sorry to ruin your day. Yes, the horrors of war are one thing, but the inhumane acts committed by men who use said "horrors of war" as an excuse are a completely different thing. The Innocents focuses on the disgusting true story of a group of nuns who were left pregnant after getting raped by occupying Russian soldiers. Director Fontaine weaves a complicated tale of horror, societal morals, and the human response that will haunt you for days afterwards with amazing performances from leads Lou de Laage and Agata Buzek.

I apologize that it's not a superhero movie and it's not based on a graphic novel's sequel, but The Innocents is an important film you will have to seek out as soon as possible. But be warned, you will probably need a couple of drinks afterwards...