It was a homecoming show of sorts for We Are Scientists, playing Lee’s Palace on Tuesday night. Alright – perhaps homecoming is a bit strong of a word for the California-formed, New York-based band, but after signing to Toronto’s Dine Alone Records for the release of their fifth studio album, 2014’s TV en Français, they may as well settle down and make the city their second (slash third) home. Please.
Last here less than a year ago – then playing NXNE – the trio took to the stage with a barebones setup but a well-polished sound. They also brought with them a huge sense of humour. They’re the type of band you want to instantly befriend because they’d probably be hilarious companions to your daily life. It’s a wonder they get any work done in the studio because I’d assume they’d just spend all their time laughing and bantering between one another. But clearly they’ve worked out how to balance the hilarious with the actual musicianship, making it all look so easy on stage.
Guitarist and vocalist Keith Murray and bassist Chris Cain (who kind of recalls Paul Rudd) handled the night’s banter – something that oddly included a large amount of talk on sausage parties. They also made sure to give love to opening band PAWS, Cain jokingly telling the crowd: “Those boys are like sons to us and if one of you… Oh f*** it, do whatever you want.” Touring drummer Keith Carne, meanwhile, was silent and seated at the back but made up for his lack of interaction by instead effectively hitting things with sticks in an impressive, timely manner.
The band themselves kept things brisk, throwing in “Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt” from their 2005 breakthrough sophomore record With Love and Squalor four songs into their show, effectively getting the close-but-not-quite sold out crowd singing along.
Murray himself is great when he belts it out, showing off strong vocals on the reverb-heavy “I Don’t Bite,” from 2010’s Barbara. Cain’s bass, meanwhile, was a highlight on the doo-wop inspired “Sprinkles,” off of We Are Scientists’ newest.
“Lousy Reputation,” another fan favourite from With Love and Squalor played well, as did new song “Make It Easy.” Set closer “Dinosaurs,” from their third album (2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery) offered a fleeting glimpse at the band’s instrumental capacity, Murray dropping out on vocals in favour of his guitar. If there’s one critique I have of the night it’s that there actually could have been more of these instrumental displays. I’m not saying they should end every song with a guitar solo – but when We Are Scientists let loose on their instruments it’s pretty wonderful to watch and there’s certainly room for them to take these moments even further.
They returned after “Dinosaurs” for a three-song encore, kicking it off with the bouncy “Can’t Lose,” dropping into TV en Français’“Slow Down,” and ending on the night’s oft-requested, rapid-paced “The Great Escape.”
We Are Scientists are undoubtedly and undeniably good at what they do and, even more impressively, they make it look easy (which might be a result of being a band for 15-plus years.) They’re also jokers, however, and perhaps that’s why they don’t get all the credit they deserve. Because they really do deserve a lot more credit and attention than they generally get. Seeing them on stage though, it’s hard to believe they’d want it to any other way. So yes, please feel free to leave the serious banter to the other bands and stay hilarious, We Are Scientists. It’s actually quite endearing.
Thanks to Collective Concerts for media access.