Wednesday night was filled with snappy beats and clever humor as New York’s own We Are Scientists returned to the city for a sold-out gig at Bowery Ballroom.  This was the band’s first show on home turf in a while, leading bassist and backing vocalist Chris Cain to remark, “It warms our very cockles to see you here, and that doesn’t mean cocks!”  Not to be outdone, lead singer Keith Murray joked, “What was the conversation we had about no chitchat under three minutes, so what was that, 2:15?”

All kidding aside though, with the band’s long absence from the stage in New York – a period occupied with extensive international touring, the creation of a series of television shorts and the making of a new album – the night’s show was highly anticipated by fans and critics alike, and the band lived up to expectations with an exceedingly fun and remarkable performance. Sitting in on drums, as well as contributing backing vocals, was Danny Allen (Youth Group), who trades off with another guest drummer, Andy Burrows, on live shows.  With Allen blending in seamlessly, the three displayed intense chemistry on stage as the melodious tunes showcased Murray’s gifted guitar playing and Cain’s groovy bass lines.


Kicking off with the “Nice Guys,” from the new album, Barbara, the Scientists dazzled the audience with a generous, high energy, 17-song set featuring a satisfying mix of material old and new.  The already enthusiastic crowd went nuts during old hits such as “Inaction,” “Nobody Move Nobody Get Hurt,” and “The Great Escape,” all from 2006’s With Love and Squalor. The band slowed things down with the dreamy, mellower “Pittsburgh,” Cain’s favorite from the new record, and “Impatience,” from 2008’s Brain Thrust Mastery.  The set also included the peppy “Jack and Ginger,” and a hard rocking “Dinosaurs,” before closing with a one-song encore in old crowd favorite, “Cash Cow.”


As to be expected with We Are Scientists, the witty banter continued throughout the evening. After Cain and Murray shared a microphone during “I Don’t Bite,” Cain commented that he’d somehow gotten one of Murray’s lashes in his mouth, joking, “I know it was yours, it tastes like cinnamon,” and adding that that’s never happened before because, until how he’d “always kept the one meter rule.”  Cain, who was wearing a t-shirt that read “Bring Back Bana” (referring to actor Eric Bana’s lead role in 2003’s Hulk) joked with the audience that texting during the show was okay, “as long as it’s about Eric Bana!”  Fans of Ed Norton were not mentioned.


Opening the night was the Brooklyn-based Rewards, the solo project of Chairlift’s Aaron Pfenning.  With special guest guitarist Dev Hynes (Lightspeed Champion and Test Icicles), Rewards’ impressive set featured intricate dream-pop styled guitars layered with synthesizers and electronic beats.  Songs included “Two Cardinals” as well as “Falling Asleep with the Lights On,” which Hynes co-wrote with Pfenning, and contributed vocals on during the live performance. Rewards will be supporting We Are Scientists for their entire U.S. tour this summer.  –Teresa Sampson, Photos by Teresa Sampson

  1. Bravo WAS, glad to see you back in NYC… Dev (LC too)!


  2. [...] and Keith are united in their love of Chairlift mastermind Aaron Pfenning and his new project, Rewards. Here’s [...]