Live in Los Angeles:
WE ARE SCIENTISTS
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 WeAreScientists.com
For more of Nicolas Bates' Photography, check out BatesImaging.com